ADHD Symptoms In Children And Young People

September 14, 2023

ADHD Symptoms In Children And Young People

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a medical condition that affects both toddlers and children. The condition influences behaviours creating problems that can range from mild to severe. ADHD is thought to affect 1 in 20 children in the UK alone.

This article by Childhealthy will discuss ADHD in its entirety. Some of the topics included are – what is ADHD? What are the symptoms associated with the condition? Causes, diagnosis and more.

Two toddlers in denim dungarees playing with cups

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is a lifelong condition that usually develops in children before the age of 7 years. There are different types of ADHD, and your child may show signs of one type or a combination of both. Some children experience issues with inattention (difficulty concentrating) while others experience problems with hyperactivity-impulsivity (being highly active – struggling to stay focused).

You may notice they have difficulty interacting with others and low self-esteem. Therefore, you must seek an early assessment if you suspect your child is showing signs of ADHD. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have concerns.

ADHD Symptoms in Young Children

Take time to familiarise yourself with the symptoms associated with ADHD. Understand that ADHD can be difficult to diagnose in preschool children. This is because they have difficulty paying attention in general. Be aware that some young children will go undiagnosed as it is difficult to tell the difference between a child with ADHD and a “disruptive” child.

Thankfully, with a thorough assessment by a developmental paediatrician, you can get a correct diagnosis. Be aware that as your child gets older, it will become a lot easier to identify the signs of ADHD. Take a look at the list of common symptoms below:

  • Constant fidgeting
  • Inability to sit still when engaging in activities
  • Being overly chatty and noisy
  • Constantly on the move
  • Prone to outbursts
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Struggling to be patient with others
  • Contentious behaviour when playing

Many of these symptoms will be seen in children without ADHD, however, if persisting and
problematic and you are concerned, it is always best to consult with your doctor for your reassurance. Diagnosing ADHD early can significantly improve your child’s development and education and also support families in managing and helping their child.

ADHD Symptoms in Girls

Although ADHD is a condition that is usually most common in boys, girls can also have it too. But ADHD can be difficult to diagnose in girls and can often be overlooked. This is because their symptoms are often a lot less noticeable.

Therefore, you must take time to familiarise yourself with the common symptoms to help you acquire an early diagnosis. Take a look at the list of symptoms below:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty paying attention to directions
  • Trouble socialising and maintaining friendships 
  • Severe emotional sensitivity and reactivity 
  • Disorganisation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Extremely focused on things that interest them

Although girls can suffer from any of the three types of ADHD (inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive or combination type), they commonly sway towards the inattentive type. This means they struggle to concentrate and have difficulty learning and processing information. Be aware that not every child with ADHD will be disruptive and hyperactive.

ADHD Symptoms in Boys

Although ADHD can affect both genders, it is most common in boys than girls (4:1). Take a look at the list of symptoms below commonly associated with boys who have ADHD:

  • Tendency to lose things 
  • Disliking towards tasks that are mentally stimulating
  • Easily distracted
  • Failure to listen and follow instructions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Struggling to pay attention
  • Constant fidgeting
  • Excess talking

Although some of these symptoms are similar to girls, boys tend to be more hyperactive. Seek medical advice if you are concerned that your child has some or all of these symptoms that are persisting and problematic.

What Causes ADHD?

ADHD is caused by a combination of factors with some associated risk factors increasing the likelihood of ADHD in a child. Some of these are listed below:

  • Genetics: lots of research in this area, with genetics of course likely to be a factor
  • Children who were born prematurely or with a low birth weight
  • Children with epilepsy

The genes you inherit from your parents play a significant role in the development of the condition. Studies that involve looking at brain scans of affected children have also shown that specific areas of the brain may be functioning differently in those with ADHD.

ADHD and Autism

ADHD and autism can be difficult to differentiate as they share similar and common symptoms. Children can struggle to remain focused with both conditions, and they can often be impulsive. Although some of the symptoms between the two are similar, they are two very different conditions. Autism is a range of developmental disorders that influence behaviour, social interaction and language skills. ADHD, on the other hand – affects the way the brain regulates impulse control.

A child with ADHD may struggle to focus on tasks that require concentration, while a child with autism may struggle to focus on a task they do not like. Instead, they may become fixated on the things they enjoy the most. Seek medical guidance if you have concerns that your child is showing signs of either condition.

For more information about autism, please read our article on the early signs of autism.

ADHD Diagnosis

If you are concerned your child has symptoms of ADHD, although it can be difficult to diagnose, it is always best to seek advice from your GP or paediatrician who may refer you to a specialist for further assessment. They will offer you support and recommend different treatment options.

Your doctor will discuss your concerns, the symptoms and your family history – to identify whether ADHD runs in the family. At first, your doctor may not advise treatment. They may recommend behaviour management to help deal with parenting your child with possible ADHD. You will monitor your child’s symptoms to see if they show improvement at home and at school. Assessment is likely to include further observation or information from school, questionnaires and learn assessments when required.

Get in Touch

If your child has ADHD, celebrate the fact that your child gets to see the world in a unique way. A child with ADHD often has a fascinating imagination and creativity, which draws people in. Their sense of humour and positive attitude will undoubtedly shine too.

Here at Childhealthy, our paediatricians can discuss any initial concerns and refer you to the appropriate paediatric ADHD specialists. We aim to put you in touch with the right people, so your child can get the early diagnosis and support they need. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via the contact section on our website.




Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child please contact your doctor for advice.


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