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SMC|Student Services|Disability Resources|What is ADHD?

What is ADHD?

DEFINITION:

The generally accepted definition of Attention Deficit Disorder (as established in the DSM  IV) distinguishes between three types of attention disorders. The new name for this is now "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder":

1. The type primarily characterized by inattention (difficulty sustaining attention to task)

2. The type characterized by hyperactivity-impulsivity (excessive fidgeting or talking, difficulty refraining from saying whatever or doing whatever comes to mind) 

3. The "combined type" in which both inattention and  hyper-activity/impulsivity are present

DIAGNOSIS:

Diagnosis is made by a psychiatrist, a doctoral level clinical or educational psychologist or a combination thereof. (The LD program cannot  make this diagnosis, but does give referrals to qualified practitioners)

The following five criteria must be met in order for a diagnosis to be made:

  • The person must display a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than his/her peers.
  • Some of these hyperactive or inattentive behaviors must have been present before age 7 years.
  • Some impairment due to the symptoms must be present in at least two settings. (example: workplace and school)
  • There must be clear evidence of interference with develop-mentally appropriate social, academic or occupational functioning.
  • The "disturbance" is not better explained by another disorder schizophrenia, depression, autism, chronic anxiety, etc.)

 

The diagnosis is made through the process of interview, observation, questionnaires. Complete medical, developmental and educational histories are taken and evaluated, along with impressions from "significant others" in the person’s life.

 

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF ADHD:

  • Following are some typical characteristics of persons with AD/HD. This is only a partial list, and not meant to be diagnostic.
  • Often seems inattentive to details, makes frequent errors in school work

  • Has difficulty sustaining attention

  • May seem not to listen when spoken to directly

  • Difficulty with "following through"

  • Fails to complete tasks

  • Has trouble organizing tasks and activities

  • Avoids tasks requiring sustained mental effort

  • Loses things necessary for tasks

  • Is easily distracted by the environment

  • Frequently forgets appointments or other daily activities

  • Fidgets or squirms restlessly

  • Inability to engage in leisure activities quietly

  • Is always "on the go"

  • Talks excessively

  • Blurts out answers before questions are completed

  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others

 

Interesting Articles related to this topic: 

           

            "Adult ADD Symptom Checklist"