Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD: A Typical Profile
The behavior of children with ADHD is typically affected in many settings (e.g., home, school, and with friends). The most prominent feature of ADHD is a consistent pattern of developmentally inappropriate levels of attention, concentration, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is important to note that these problems must be inappropriate to a child's developmental level to be considered ADHD. One concern among physicians is rampant over diagnosis of ADHD, in part because the condition has been so hard to define.
Children with attention deficits are unable to remain on-task for extended periods of time. They may appear forgetful, in part because their inability to attend to information prevents them from understanding it in the first place. Such children may also have cognitive and language delays. Children with hyperactivity may fidget, have difficulty engaging in quiet activities, be excessively talkative, and always seem to be on the go. Children with impulse control problems may be impatient (e.g., they may blurt out an answer before the question has been finished), have difficulty waiting their turn, and are often perceived to be intruding on others. All of these manifestations can cause difficulties in academic and social settings (Warner-Rogers 2000).
It is common for children with ADHD to be misdiagnosed as having learning disorders because they often perform poorly on tests that require information processing and concentration (Hartman 2004; Weiler 2000). There is also evidence that adults with ADHD are more likely to have a variety of addictive behaviors, among them alcoholism (Ponce 2000), smoking (Levin 2001), and cocaine use (Bandstra 2001).