What does ADHD look like in children, teens and adults?

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a disorder that is common in both children as well as adults. Although the disorder has many of the same characteristics for both groups, they manifest themselves in different ways. Adults diagnosed with ADHD have most likely had it since childhood. Many times, people with ADHD, do not get an accurate diagnosis until adulthood. With teenagers, it is important to recognize how symptoms look in both groups since teens will often have characteristics of both. The three main components to ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsiveness. But what do these look like in children and adults? According to Health Central, there are signs to look for:


Hyperactivity in Children

· Excessive movement, fidgeting, and squirming

· In the classroom, the child will have a difficult time staying seated, often causing a distraction by dropping pencils or books.

· Talks excessively, even during quiet time

· Difficulty playing games or engaging in any activity that requires sitting still


Hyperactivity in Adults

· Feelings of restlessness; difficulty with jobs that require long periods of sitting still, needs constant movement

· Easily bored; may change jobs often; may have difficulty finishing projects due to being bored.

· Risky, fast-paced activities are more prone to hold one’s interest


Inattention in Children

· Difficulty listening and paying attention

· Forgetful

· Makes careless mistakes

· Does not complete homework, projects, or chores

· Avoids engaging in activities that require mental effort

· Does not pay attention to details (Teens may find learning to drive very difficult and scary)


Inattention in Adults

· Always losing and misplacing important items such as keys, phone, important documents

· Lack of self-motivation

· Loses track of time

· Easily distracted; does not finish one task before moving on to the next

· Very forgetful, forgets to pay bills or reply to others in a timely manner

· Has difficulty following a conversation


Impulsiveness in Children

· Acts before thinking; engages in risky behaviors

· Yelling or talking out of turn in school

· Interrupting others in conversation or in games

· Difficulty waiting one’s turn; jumping in line


Impulsiveness in Adults

· Careless, impulsive spending

· Always interrupting others conversations

· Blurts out comments without thinking, often causing offense or hurting other’s feelings

· Engaging in risky behaviors such as driving too fast, risky sex, or gambling.


It is important for parents to recognize the signs of ADHD in their child. The symptoms of ADHD can cause problems with grades, developing friendships, and problems within the family dynamic. Also, the risky behaviors that can be a part of ADHD can put your child at risk in several ways. It can be easy to brush off the behaviors in a teen as just “normal teen behavior”. This is why it is important to have a professional see your child or teen, and complete an assessment of their behaviors and symptoms.


There is treatment for ADHD that can make a world of difference in how your child relates to the world around him. The most researched and effective treatments for ADHD include medications like stimulants, non-stimulants and antidepressants, and can be prescribed by your child’s pediatrician, primary care doctor or psychiatrist. A combination of medication, education, training and counseling are regarded as the most effective treatment. By combining medication, counseling and skill building, many people find relief from many symptoms of ADHD. Like other mental health and wellness challenges, it may take some time to determine what works best and making a wellness plan with your counselor is a great start!


Counseling can help you Improve your time management and organizational skills, help you learn how to reduce your impulsive behavior, develop better problem-solving skills, cope with past academic, work or social failures, and even improve your self-esteem. Counseling can also help you learn ways to improve relationships with your family, co-workers and friends, and develop strategies for controlling your temper. An effective counseling approach for ADHD is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. This structured type of counseling teaches specific skills to manage your behavior and change negative thinking patterns into positive ones. It can help you deal with life challenges, such as school, work or relationship problems, and help address other mental health conditions, such as depression or substance abuse. Request an Appointment with eSupport Counseling and get started on the road to wellness today! We are ready when you are!