ADHD is a biological disorder that afflicts around 4-5% of children. A large percentage of those will continue to have symptoms that affect their functioning as adults, with an estimated 3.4% of adult affected.

ADHD affects each individuals differently

ADHD affects each individuals differently; not two people with ADHD have the same difficulties. It affects males at higher rate than females in childhood, but this ratio seems to even out by adulthood.

ADHD is a neurological disorder

ADHD is a neurological disorder that is explained by a difference in brain networks and density in the frontal part of the brain that are used in planning, organizing, attention etc (executive functions). While a child’s environment can help or worsen his/her symptoms, it is not something you can “catch”.


ADHD is usually understood as a problem with attention and hyperactivity, but it is much more complex than that. The main symptoms of ADHD can be summarised in 3 clusters: Hyperactivity – Impulsivity – Inattention.


  • Hyperactivity is the poster of ADHD and usually translates through restlessness, fidgety, can’t sit still, making a lot of noise, doing several things at once.
  • Some children show their hyperactivity through their speech, constant talking is another way to release energy.
  • Finally, the hyperactive also translates through a hyperactive brain, constant thinking, having new ideas, trying new things, trouble sleeping.


It is the inability to consider your action before acting, in other words acting before thinking.

While this can translate in impulsive tendencies to engage in more risky behaviour, some of the symptoms of impulsivity are less obvious:

  • Not thinking before acting or talking can be perceived as being tactless/ thoughtless as children say or do inappropriate things.
  • Impatience, difficulty waiting for turn, blurting out answers.
  • Interrupting, butting into conversations, or carry on talking even I they are being asked to stop.


  • Difficulties to concentrate on an activity or task for long period of time, but also the ability to sometimes hyperfocus when the subject is interesting.
  • The problem is not about not being able to focus but not having control about when and how this focus happens.
  • Some of the symptoms stemming from inattention can be very disruptive in day to day life such as:  Being forgetful, being late, not able to finish things, losing things,  failing to pay attention to details, procrastinating and making careless mistakes.

ADHD has high co-morbidity with other disorder such as dyslexia, anxiety, depression or Asperger’s. However, it is not always the case that a child will have other disorders.

It is also important to note that a lot of girls have ADHD too. They do not show the same symptoms as boys and tent to be more inattentive than hyperactive. However, the effect of ADHD is still as impactful, if not more as they tend to go under the radar.

However, it’s not all bad! While uncontrolled ADHD can be very disruptive and challenging,  the symptoms of ADHD can also have many perks. Children with ADHD often are highly enthusiastic, forgiving,  have high energy levels, are open to new things and frequently very creative. They can also be perceptive, open-hearted, show sensitivity, think outside the box and great talent for multi-tasking.

Denise Challis
Helping you understand...
Denise Challis
ADHD Parenting Practitioner