Photo of a fig

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition. It may be called by an older name, attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Short attention span, hyperactivity and/or impulsive behaviors are key problems for people with ADHD.

Some people only have problems with short attention span, and are not hyperactive.

Because some people with ADHD have a hard time being patient, behavior and social problems at school, home, or in the workplace are common.

ADHD typically begins early in childhood and may continue into adulthood. ADHD is more common in boys than in girls. About one-third of children with ADHD also have learning problems such as a reading disability. It is estimated that 5 to 11 percent of children have ADHD.

If you suspect you or your child has ADHD, make an appointment with your doctor or find mental health services at Kaiser Permanente. It is important that your child get help for ADHD as early as possible.

You can also talk with your child's teacher or your local school district about finding resources to help your child succeed in school.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior

  • Trouble sitting still or moves constantly
  • Speaks in a loud voice
  • Talks a lot
  • Blurts out answers
  • Trouble waiting
  • Interrupts conversations or activities

Symptoms of inattention

  • Makes careless mistakes in paperwork
  • Trouble paying attention when doing a task
  • Not listening
  • Trouble following directions or finishing tasks
  • Poor organization
  • Avoids homework or tasks requiring concentration
  • Loses things
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetfulness

Learn more about ADHD, including treatment and how parents can help their children build self-esteem and get the most out of school.

Reviewed by: Andrew Bertagnolli, PhD, November 2015
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

©2015 Kaiser Permanente