ADHD Signs: Common Symptoms in Children and Adults

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that can impact children and adults. It is characterised by difficulty with executive functioning, such as paying attention to tasks, controlling impulses, and regulating emotions.

Symptoms of ADHD can vary in intensity and frequency and manifest differently in children and adults. It is essential to be aware of common ADHD symptoms in order to understand the disorder better and how to provide appropriate support. This article will outline the common symptoms of ADHD in children and adults, providing insight into how it may manifest in each age group.

Common Symptoms in Children

There are many common symptoms associated with ADHD. These symptoms can impact children in various ways, both in their relationships with those around them and their social abilities. These include the following:

A. Inattention

Inattention is defined as the inability to sustain focus or concentrate on tasks for an appropriate length of time. Children with ADHD may often seem bored or uninterested in what they are doing because they are unable to finish activities.

They may exhibit the following behaviour:

  1. Difficulty paying attention: A child with ADHD may seem preoccupied and unable to focus on a task or work well with others. They may be “spacey” or “dazed.”
  1. Easily distracted: Distractions may include physical objects or sounds, making it difficult for the child to finish work and stay on task in class.
  1. Forgetfulness: Children with ADHD may appear disorganized and forgetful because of the constant interruptions they experience. They often get lost in their own thoughts and often lose track of where they are in a task or process.

B. Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is defined as excess restlessness and a constant need for movement. Children with ADHD may move constantly, fidget excessively, and seem unable to keep still—even when sitting or standing. This behaviour often interferes with their ability to focus and concentrate on tasks, work well with others, or complete assigned work.

  1. Restlessness: Children may appear “antsy” and unable to sit through a task or process because of the need for constant movement.
  1. Excessive talking: Children with ADHD may engage in excessive talking to distract themselves or others, making it difficult for them to work well individually or with others.
  1. Difficulty engaging in quiet play: Children with ADHD may not be able to find activities that they can do quietly. They often need activity-based entertainment and are unable to sit quietly and do puzzles, games, or other quiet activities.

C. Impulsiveness

Impulsiveness is defined as the inability to control or resist urges that interfere with the task at hand. Children with ADHD may push themselves to do things they do not want to or try to complete tasks they can’t finish.

They may exhibit the following behaviour:

  1. Difficulty waiting: Children with ADHD may be unable to wait their turn or put off doing a task until a later time. They often get bored and lose focus on tasks that take more time than others. They usually finish things quickly and then have difficulty keeping quiet for longer periods of time.
  1. Acting without thinking: Children with ADHD may act impulsively or take unnecessary risks because they are unable to think things through or make decisions. They often interrupt others to speak and may make inappropriate jokes or comments.
  1. Blurting out answers: A child with ADHD may blurt out answers to questions or statements unrelated to the topic. This can make it difficult for them to be aware of what others are saying, which can sometimes lead to confrontations.

Common Symptoms in Adults

There are many common symptoms associated with ADHD in adults. These symptoms can impact adults in various ways, both in their relationships with those around them and their social abilities. The symptoms of ADHD may vary slightly in adults, but the basic characteristics remain the same.

A. Inattention

ADHD is a real issue that can significantly impact an adult’s ability to concentrate and collaborate. Adults with ADHD experience a multitude of symptoms that affect their ability to focus, such as:

  1. Difficulty paying attention to details: Adults with ADHD may have trouble remembering details or seem to be easily distracted. They may get side-tracked by the smallest things or lose track of what they are doing in their day-to-day tasks. Those who don’t understand ADHD might describe individuals with ADHD as “inattentive,” “unfocused,” or “spacey.”
  1. Forgetfulness in daily activities: Those with ADHD often forget things. They may have trouble storing things in their memory or find it difficult to remember where they put items after using them. They may also be unwilling to write out lists for others for fear of forgetting them.
  1. Poor organisational skills: Due to their inability to focus and pay attention, those with ADHD often struggle with organization. This can make it difficult for them to plan ahead, finish tasks on time, and remember instructions.

B. Hyperactivity

ADHD in adults impacts their ability to relax and can cause them to appear restless and fidgety. Those with ADHD may exhibit the following:

  1. Restlessness and fidgeting: Adults with ADHD are unable to sit still or stay focused for long periods because their minds are always racing. Their restlessness often interferes with their ability to complete tasks or meet deadlines.
  1. Excessive talking: Adults with ADHD may engage in excessive talking to distract themselves or others, making it difficult for them to work well individually or with others.
  1. Overly frequent needs for movement: Adults with ADHD may need to move constantly. They often walk quickly and talk excessively, lose their place when standing still, or pace about the room.

C. Impulsiveness

Impulsiveness is the inability to control urges that interfere with tasks at hand. ADHD in adults can impact their ability to make decisions or resist urges that might interfere with the task at hand. They may exhibit the following:

  1. Acting on impulse without thinking of consequences: Due to the inability to control their urges, adults with ADHD may act on impulse without thinking of how their actions will affect others. They are also often unable to stop once they’ve started something, which can lead to conflict over time.
  1. Interrupting others: Adults with ADHD are unable to filter out their thoughts and distractions, which often leads to interrupting others. They may talk over others, ask questions when it is not their turn, or interrupt others while they are talking.
  1. Making hasty decisions: Adults with ADHD may rapidly make decisions without considering all the consequences. They are often unable to weigh their options and, as a result, make rash decisions that do not consider potential problems or issues.

Final Thought

It is important to note that not all individuals with ADHD will experience all symptoms and that the severity and manifestation of symptoms can vary from person to person. However, if several of these persistent symptoms impact daily life, it is recommended to seek a medical evaluation to determine if ADHD is the underlying cause.


About the author
Managing Director / Counsellor at Anglia Counselling Ltd | 07747042899 | [email protected] | Business Website

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).