ADHD in Children: Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis, Treatments

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 May 2022

Table of Contents:

  1. Symptoms of ADHD in Children
  2. Diagnosis
  3. 3 Types of ADHD in Children
  4. ADHD Treatments
  5. Medications for Childhood ADHD
  6. Behavioral Treatments for Children With ADHD
  7. What Treatment Is Best for My Child?
  8. The ADHD Coach

Symptoms of ADHD in Children


Inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity are all symptoms of ADHD in children. These kids are:

  • Are perpetually in motion
  • Fidget and squirm
  • Have trouble playing quietly
  • Talk excessively very often
  • Interrupt or invade on the privacy of others
  • Are prone to distraction
  • Leave things unfinished



Although your child might exhibit some symptoms consistent with ADHD, they may be indicative of something else. That is why you should see a doctor.


There is no conclusive or clear test for ADHD. Other than that, diagnosing is a multi-step process that requires the collection of a large amount of data from various sources. Assessing your child's actions should include you, your child, his or her school, and other caregivers. A doctor will also inquire about the symptoms your child is experiencing, the duration of those symptoms, and the impact the behaviour is having on your child and the rest of your family. Doctors diagnose ADHD in children after they exhibit six or more serious signs of inattention or hyperactivity on a consistent basis in at least two environments for more than six months. The doctor will equate the child's actions to that of other children his or her age.


Your child will undergo a physical examination, a medical history, and possibly a noninvasive brain scan.


Your child's primary care doctor will decide whether your child has ADHD based on the American Academy of Paediatrics' standard recommendations, which state that the disorder can be diagnosed in children aged 4 to 18. However, symptoms must begin by the age of 12.


ADHD is very difficult to detect in children younger than the age of five. That is because many preschool children exhibit signs of ADHD in a variety of cases. Additionally, children undergo accelerated development during their preschool years.


In certain instances, behavior that appears to be triggered by ADHD can actually be caused by:


  • A sudden life change (such as divorce, a death in the family, or moving)
  • Undetected seizures
  • Medical disorders affecting brain function
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder


3 Types of ADHD in Children


Doctors can classify symptoms of ADHD into the following categories:


  • Hyperactive/impulsive type: Children exhibit both hyperactive and impulsive behaviour, but they are generally capable of paying attention.
  • Inattentive type: Previously referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD). These are not very active children. Since they do not interfere with classroom or other events, their symptoms can go unnoticed.
  • Combined type (inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive): Children with this form of ADHD exhibit symptoms from both groups. This is the most prevalent manifestation of ADHD.


ADHD Treatments


Special education services, psychiatric counselling, and medication treatment can all be included in treatment plans. Determine as much information as possible about the choices and discuss them with your child's health care provider in order to make the right choice for your child.


Long-term treatment with a combination of drugs and behavioural therapy is significantly more effective than treatment with only medications or no particular therapies in treating hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and anxiety and depression symptoms. Additionally, children treated with both ADHD medications and therapy demonstrated improved social skills.


Medications for Childhood ADHD


Psychostimulants (or even simply stimulants) are an extremely beneficial treatment for childhood ADHD. These medications assist children in concentrating on their thoughts and avoiding distractions. They include

  • Adderall
  • Adzenys XR-ODT
  • Vyvanse
  • Concerta
  • Focalin
  • Daytrana
  • Ritalin
  • Quillivant XR

Nonstimulant medication is another option for treating ADHD in children. These include:

  • Intuniv
  • Kapvay
  • Strattera 


Short-acting (immediate-release), intermediate-acting, and long-acting ADHD medications are available. A doctor may need some time to determine the optimal drug, dose, and schedule for someone with ADHD. Though ADHD medications do sometimes cause side effects, these typically occur during the initial stages of treatment. Generally, side effects are mild, temporary and well tolerated.


Behavioral Treatments for Children With ADHD


Behavioral care for children with ADHD entails creating structure, encouraging keeping routines, and clearly communicating the child's expectations.


Additional types of ADHD care that could help your child include the following:


  • Social skills training: This will assist a child with ADHD in developing and maintaining social relationships.
  • Support groups and parenting skills training: This includes providing guidance to parents and assisting them in learning more about ADHD and how to handle an ADHD child.


What Treatment Is Best for My Child?


There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for children with ADHD. Each child's individual needs and background must be carefully considered.


For instance, a child can experience adverse effects from a drug, rendering the treatment ineffective. If a child with ADHD often suffers from anxiety or depression, a combination of medication and behavioural therapy may be the appropriate course of action.


It's important to collaborate with a physician to determine the best course of action for your child.


The ADHD Coach

Coaching is a relatively recent area in the treatment of ADHD in children. ADHD coaches are intended to assist children in achieving better outcomes in various aspects of their lives by setting targets and assisting the child in determining how to achieve them. However, a child must be sufficiently mature and encouraged to work with a coach.


Referenced on  28/4/2021

  1. Mayo Clinic: “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children."
  2. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: “Treatment Options for ADHD in Children and Teens: A review of Research for Parents and Caregivers."
  3. FDA: “How Do You Know if Your Child Has ADHD?"
  4. National Institute of Mental Health: “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)." 
  5. National Resource Center on ADHD: “Parenting a Child with ADHD (WWK2)."
  6. FDA: “FDA permits marketing of first brain wave test to help assess children and teens for ADHD."

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