ADHD Signs, Symptoms & Effects In Children

Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is an important part of the effort to get treatment for a child or adolescent. At Little Creek Behavioral Health in Conway, Arkansas, we’re proud to be a source of information and comprehensive care for young people who have been struggling with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other mental health conditions. 

Understanding Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Learn about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes behavior changes in children and adolescents. Inattention is one way ADHD manifests, and this often causes young people to have difficulty with organization and concentration. Children who are struggling with ADHD also exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity that may cause an increase in movements, such as continual talking, tapping, or fidgeting.

Impulsivity is common in many young people who are living with ADHD. This behavior can be seen through symptoms such as interrupting conversations, making decisions quickly, and skipping to various sections when working on tasks. Children who are suffering from ADHD may also exhibit difficulty waiting for results or rewards.

While ADHD can develop at any point during an individual’s life, a mental health professional can only diagnose an adolescent or adult with ADHD if some symptoms were present before the age of 12.

Young people may experience an increase in symptoms when they are not being directly watched, not receiving rewards, and not stimulated through activities such as exercise and technology. A child may also display more symptoms of ADHD when they are participating in unenjoyable activities, spending time in familiar environments, and integrated in large groups.


Statistics about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health has collected the following information on children and adolescents who are living with ADHD in the United States:

The prevalence of children who are living with ADHD increased by 42% between 2003 (7.8%) and 2011 (11.0%).
In 2011, about 69.3% of children who were living with ADHD were taking medication prescribed for the condition.
About 33% of children who are diagnosed with ADHD continue to experience symptoms of this condition through adulthood.
Male adolescents are diagnosed with ADHD more frequently than female adolescents.

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

The causes of ADHD are a combination of environment, genetics, and personality. If your child has one or more of these risk factors, this does not guarantee that they will develop ADHD. However, these factors may place your child at an increased risk for experiencing symptoms of ADHD:

  • Difficulty controlling their behaviors
  • Consistently negative or irritable moods
  • Engaging in reckless or risky behaviors
  • Maternal exposure to smoking, alcohol, or infection during pregnancy
  • History of trauma, abuse, or neglect
  • Inconsistent environments, such as frequently changing foster homes
  • Exposure to toxins such as lead
  • Family history of ADHD

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

ADHD causes children and adolescents to display a range of behavioral, physical, and mental symptoms. Young people often display different symptoms based on the environment they are in. For example, a child or adolescent may primarily exhibit inattention and other mental symptoms at school and behavioral symptoms, such as impulsivity, at home.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Misses details or does not follow directions during tasks or activities
  • Difficulty sustaining attention
  • Dislikes or avoids tasks that require prolonged effort
  • Inability to play quietly
  • Has trouble taking turns
  • Difficulty organizing belongings
  • Talks excessively, often interrupting conversations
  • Answers quickly before the other person finishes speaking

Physical symptoms: 

  • Difficulty sitting for long periods
  • Frequently runs or climbs in inappropriate situations
  • Consistently fidgeting, tapping, or squirming
  • Restlessness

Mental symptoms: 

  • Difficulty organizing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Easily distracted by external surroundings
  • Appears to not pay attention when directly spoken to


Effects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

The symptoms associated with ADHD can potentially cause your child distress. If your child is struggling with untreated ADHD, they may experience the following adverse effects at home, at school, and in their community:

  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Substance use or other addictive behaviors, such as emotional eating
  • Difficulty establishing or maintaining interpersonal relationships
  • Poor academic performance
  • Inflicting harm on self or others due to inattention (e.g., frequent motor vehicle accidents)
  • Legal difficulties due to behavioral concerns

The effects of ADHD may significantly impact many areas of your child’s life, but help is available. Young people who are dealing with ADHD should receive appropriate mental health services to increase their chances of managing the symptoms of this mental health condition and achieving improved well-being.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among children and adolescents who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

If your child has ADHD, they may also suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition. In this case, it is vital that they receive comprehensive care to address each diagnosis. If any of these mental health conditions remain untreated, your child may experience more difficulty functioning in school, at home, and in social situations. Some disorders that commonly co-occur with ADHD include: 

  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) 
  • Conduct disorder 
  • Learning disorders 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Depression 
  • Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) 
  • Substance use disorders 
  • Antisocial personality disorder 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 
  • Tic disorders 

It is beneficial to seek personalized services that fully address each mental health condition your child is struggling with. At Little Creek Behavioral Health, your child will receive the direct attention they need to manage the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other mental health conditions. 

Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval