ADHD in Children

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause hyperactive and impulsive behavior and/or make it difficult to pay attention. Although usually diagnosed by age 7, ADHD affects children, adolescents and adults. It’s a life-long condition and many people are first diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood. To be considered ADHD, these behaviors must last for at least six months and be present in two environments. For children, that typically means home and school.

There are four types of ADHD:

  • Inattentive
  • Hyperactive
  • Impulsive
  • Combined (the most common type)

The cause of ADHD is unknown, but there is likely a genetic component since ADHD can run in families. 

ADHD Symptoms

Symptoms can vary according to the type of ADHD:


  • Easily distracted by sights and sounds
  • Doesn't pay attention to detail
  • Doesn't seem to listen when spoken to
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Doesn't follow through on instructions or tasks
  • Avoids or dislikes activities that require longer periods of mental effort
  • Loses or forgets items necessary for tasks
  • Is forgetful in day-to-day activities


  • Restless, fidgets and squirms
  • Runs and climbs; not able to stay seated


  • Blurts out answers before hearing the entire question
  • Has difficulty playing quietly
  • Talks excessively
  • Interrupts others
  • Has difficulty waiting in line or waiting for a turn


  • Can present with any of the symptoms of inattentive or hyperactive ADHD

Treatment at UVA Health Children's

There’s no cure for ADHD, but these treatments can help your child manage the symptoms of ADHD:

  • Medication, which can help control behavior and attention span
  • Behavior therapy, which focuses on practicing social and problem-solving skills; coaches work with children to help them organize and create strategies so that they can be more efficient and successful