Symptoms of ADHD

Synonyms in a broader sense

ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, fidget Philipp syndrome, fidgety philipp, psycho-organic syndrome (POS), hyperactivity syndrome, hyperkinetic syndrome (HKS), behavioral disorder with attention and concentration disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

English: Attention - Deficit - Hyperactivity - Disorder (ADHD), minimal brain syndrome, Fidgety Phil.

Summary ADHD

Before the scientific survey of the problem areas of ADHD, these children were often described as clumsy and restless. Today we know that in many - but by no means all - cases, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - ADHD - can be the cause.
Children who suffer from ADHD find it difficult to focus on that Distractibility is immense. It is also noticeable that work that has begun is often not finished.
This is exactly where the problems a child with ADHD can face in school become clear. Because even if the intelligence is in the normal, sometimes above-average range, the child can overcome the deficits caused by a Poor concentration arise, cannot or only with great difficulty compensate. It is not uncommon to find one in children with ADHD Reading and writing difficulties or Arithmetic weakness in front. The combination of ADHD and partial performance weaknesses (Dyslexia or Dyscalculia) cannot be ruled out.

In order to be able to help the children, a specific cause research must be carried out. The diagnostic surveys are also diverse and usually cover the entire educational field of the child. The more varied and individual a diagnosis is made, the more individual a therapy can be. Blaming and insulting the children does not change anything. On the part of parents and teachers, patience and, above all, (self) control are required. Consistent educational action, setting up and adhering to agreed rules is the top priority.
You can obtain more detailed information on the individual sub-areas from the relevant subject area on the link bar on the left.

Symptoms of ADHD

As already mentioned, the image of the fidgety Philip or the wild Heinrich comes to life in us when one thinks of inattentiveness, sometimes naughtiness. Not least because of this, ADHD is also known as “Fidgety Phil” in English-speaking countries.

The following list of possible symptoms is intended to provide information about behavior. First questions and first suspicions should be clarified. The assignment of the symptoms only serves as an indication of the suspicious factors. Such “checking off” possible behaviors alone never replaces a visit to the doctor and the symptomatic clarification of the phenomenon.

The list of possible symptoms listed below is not intended to be exhaustive, and the presence of one or more symptoms does not necessarily mean that your child has ADHD. The diagnosis is complex and should be made precisely.

Symptoms of ADHD

Due to the inability to filter information (important? / Unimportant?), Those affected are permanently overloaded with stimuli and under constant stress. It is obvious that such situations are difficult to endure and that the affected person should behave accordingly.

While some symptoms of the two areas, such as:

  • Short phases of attention, poor concentration and related: quick distractibility, forgetfulness and changeable behavior.
  • under certain circumstances: spatial instability (mixing up the sides (right - left) and, associated with this, mixing up letters, similar sounding sounds, etc.)
  • Cramped hold of the pen
  • Problems in fine motor skills
  • Developmental delays in the area of ​​mobility (learning to crawl late, walking, ...)
  • Difficulties in contact or inconsistent friendships (lack of distance, isolation, frequent conflicts, ...)
  • Problems in performing everyday actions in a controlled sequence,
  • Problems in other school areas and develop other school weaknesses (e.g. reading and spelling weaknesses, arithmetic weaknesses, ...)

are the same, there are also specific symptoms of ADD and ADHD.

Heaven or Hell?
  • long phases of crying in infancy (also: often bad mood, defiant phases)
  • Problems sleeping, trouble eating
  • acquisition of the language very early or rather late
  • Fidget, can't wait.
  • Tasks are not finished. Lots of unpredictable plot changes)
  • Inability to remain seated permanently (restless behavior)
  • Rejection of physical contact
  • Usually: playing loudly
  • Talk into it
  • hasty speaking ("rumbling")
  • Compliance with the rules of the game is very difficult
  • Injustice is difficult to endure ("sense of justice")
  • Clumsiness
  • common: low self-esteem. Sometimes this can lead to fears and depression in adulthood
  • ...

Many of the above symptoms can also occur in children without attention deficit disorder. Precisely for this reason, making a diagnosis is very difficult and should by no means be hasty or rash. Only the combination of a large number of the symptoms mentioned, which occurs again and again within a certain period of time, and the fact that these behaviors affect all areas of a child's life, should necessitate a closer look and diagnostic delimitation.

In contrast to a child without ADHD, the symptoms in a child with ADHD are permanent through the child's development, so they do not “grow out”. Therefore, ask yourself critically whether your child's symptoms are typical even before the age of six occurred and whether they are also in several areas of life over a longer period of time shown again and again to have.

It was already pointed out above that the symptoms should not only have shown in one area of ​​life, for example in the home environment. For this reason, a diagnosis cannot only be one-sided. In order to be able to get a comprehensive and detailed picture, all areas of the child's life should be “examined” and their main contact persons should be asked.

Which includes:

  • Interviewing the parents
  • The assessment of the situation by the kindergarten / school

The child itself is also examined in detail on two different levels and is therefore part of a typical ADHD diagnosis:

  • The preparation of a psychological report
  • A medical exam

How are the symptoms of ADHD and ADD different?

In the non-hyperactive form, the so-called ADD, the attention disorder shows up differently. Similar to the typical variants of ADHD, those affected experience a real one in everyday life Overstimulation and it is difficult to separate the unimportant from the important. So they show the same Concentration and attention problems, but deal with it differently.

Hyperactive patients compensate for the overstrain with the signals flowing in on them and for the accumulated energy with excessive movement. They are jittery, do not sit still and are constantly "on the move".

In the non-hyperactive form, those affected tend to suffer from inner restlessness and isolate themselves from the outside worldto avoid overstimulation. This is shown e.g. in a hypo-, i.e. sub-activity. The person seems dreamy and absent. The main abnormalities in ADD are therefore disturbed social behavior and psychological problems. This form of ADHD is much less typical, is diagnosed less often and more often persists into adulthood.

Interviewing the parents

As a rule, parents are the most important caregivers for a child. Parents know their child like no other person and can therefore provide extensive information on the child's behavior and level of development. However, since it is extremely difficult to admit that there are problems that actually have to be addressed in order to be adequately solved, initiatives are often only taken when the family situation (the home environment) is increasingly stressed.

The questioning of the parents usually includes a questionnaire that tries to examine the characteristics of the child. The playing behavior, the ability to concentrate, the stamina, the ability to work in a team, etc. are of enormous importance and are repeatedly questioned through specific questions.

Due to the security that a child experiences in the family environment, it often behaves differently in this shelter than with friends or even in school. Because of this feeling of being unobserved, it often shows traditional behaviors that have developed over the years and thus become more or less automatic. Many of these behaviors are familiar to the family members, which means that serious and thus extremely disruptive behaviors can be clearly seen, but are still not always recognized. Through targeted questioning by means of a questionnaire, behavior patterns that have been simply accepted by family members over the years are also specifically questioned.

Of course, it is up to each parent to determine the extent to which the surveys cover the assessment of the entire situation. Ultimately, you can only give your child an advantage (in terms of time) if you are honest with yourself and try to answer questions with the best of conscience.

Assessment by school or kindergarten

ADHD in school and Kiga

Since the typical ADHD behaviors are not limited to the family environment, but also come to the fore in interaction with peers and in stressful situations, the assessment of the situation by the kindergarten or school is an essential element of the diagnostic Elevation.
Typical problems arise with ADHD children in particular when increased concentration and attention are required or when topics are discussed that do not correspond to the interests of the ADHD child. ADHD - children then find it difficult to resist the inner urge and then stand out due to hyperactive behavior and often also due to an extremely low frustration tolerance.
Not least because of these concentration and attention problems, additional learning problems can often appear in addition to the actual symptoms. In particular, areas of study that are difficult for the ADHD child offer a large area of ​​attack with regard to the development of learning problems. Examples are the “classic problem areas” in reading and spelling (reading and spelling weakness; dyslexia), as well as in arithmetic (arithmetic weakness, dyscalculia).
In addition to the specific observations of a teacher, standardized assessment sheets are also used here. They are usually designed in detail and question the situation in a targeted manner.

Symptoms in kindergarten

In kindergarten many children first notice ADHD. They are fidgety, disobeying the rules and causing unrest. Of the pronounced urge to move can increase the risk of accidents and make children difficult to follow instructions and defiant. Inappropriate outbursts of anger and impulsive behavior are common. A dreaminess and mental absence of the child without motor restlessness is also possible. It is not uncommon Symptoms in kindergarten are more severe than at home, because there are many more stimuli flowing in on them and overwhelming them. The relationship with the educators and the other children is strained by the inappropriate behavior. Those affected find it difficult to integrate into a group. Their lack of concentration can also lead to developmental delays, e.g. when learning fine motor skills while drawing and doing handicrafts.

However, since the intelligence is not impaired by the attention disorder and children with ADHD often have a more pronounced imagination than their peers, the correct handling of the symptoms and the promotion of their individual talents can avoid problems later on.

Preparation of a psychological report

psychology control

The aim of a psychological report is to develop a picture of the child that is as objective as possible by summarizing the various test results in a report. Since test results always have to be seen in connection with the test carried out, the test procedures on which they are based are always named in the report. It also indicates how to interpret the results. As a rule, a psychological report also provides initial indications of therapeutic procedures that are based on the individual results and events.

The way in which a psychological report is drawn up can vary and is particularly dependent on the age of the child.
Psychological reports for children of preschool age are mainly prepared on the basis of developmental diagnostics. Psychological reports that are created in this way generally do not use standardized test procedures. One refers to conversations with caregivers and to the analysis of the child's behavior and individual movement characteristics. Observing the child usually provides the first important clues with regard to the ability to concentrate and pay attention. In addition, the tolerance for frustration and the ability to adhere to rules can be assessed quite well.

Psychological reports for children from the age of six are based not only on the individual assessment by the psychologist and / or pediatrician, but also on standardized test procedures that consider the individual child's performance in relation to the age norm, i.e. in relation to the average age-appropriate development of a child.
Before test methods can be described as standardized test methods, they must meet certain quality criteria. They must be objective and deliver the same results even when the test is carried out repeatedly (results must not depend on chance). Ultimately, they also have to measure what was intended.
It is up to the tester to choose which test procedures are used in each individual case.

The medical diagnosis

medical diagnostics

Medical diagnostics are usually based on two aspects. On the one hand, the physical examination, the so-called Basic diagnostics to assess the general state of health of the child and to identify any development deficits (development deficits). As a rule, the physical examination includes, in addition to a comprehensive blood test, physical examinations in the form of hearing, vision and / or allergy tests.
In addition, within the scope of the medical diagnosis, differential diagnosis is also differentiated. This Differential diagnostics enables an investigation of various accompanying symptoms with regard to their cause. There are, for example, diseases that cause symptoms similar to ADHD (Tourette's syndrome, tics, ...). In order to differentiate whether the symptoms are really due to ADHD, whether other diseases are responsible for them or whether ADHD is present together with another clinical picture, differential diagnostics is an important instrument of medical diagnostics EEG (Electroencephalogram) to determine and examine the brain waves in the brain, as well as a EKG (Electrocardiogram) to check your heart rhythm and heart rate. Both methods serve to rule out possible concomitant diseases (differential diagnosis) rather than to establish a diagnosis of ADHD. Here you can find out more in terms of Differential diagnosis.

Symptoms in adults

The three core complexes of ADHD symptoms form the Attention disorder, the impulsiveness and the Hyperactivity. Each of these terms encompasses a wide variety of symptoms that every patient may or may not experience.

The attention disorder shows up, for example, in the distractibility, forgetfulness, poor concentration and similar problems of the person concerned. She is responsible for the difficulties in school and for adults in work.

The impulsivity shows up in the person's decision-making, emotional behavior, and responses. It makes it difficult to consider the consequences and to classify them in the social environment.

The hyperactivity is characterized by a massive urge to move and makes the patient jittery and restless.

Which specific symptoms each individual has varies from case to case. Some show isolated attention disorder, others just have problems with social interactions. In adults, it is also ADHD harder to see than in a child. Since the problems have existed since childhood and the people affected have struggled with the ADHD symptoms for many years, most of them develop their own compensation strategies. They avoid situations in which their ADHD would be suspicious. For example, adult attention disorders can develop. show as disinterest, impulsivity as social isolation and hyperactivity as excessive exercise. There are a variety of ways in which ADHD can develop in adults that are significantly less typical than in children.

In addition, the risk of side effects increases after years of symptoms. E.g. depressions and similar problems significantly more common in adult ADHD patients than the rest of the population. The typical core complexes are not only less noticeable compared to the child, there are also other symptoms.

Thus, the appearance of ADHD in adults becomes much more complex and difficult to interpret. Recognizing the disease and treating and supporting the person affected are a challenge, but very important in order to avoid accompanying problems.

Problems in the partnership

People with ADHD can often find it difficult to concentrate, easily distracted, and impulsive. This often leads to difficulties and quarrels in the relationship. The biggest problem is that disturbed communication. Those affected find it difficult to listen to and respond to their partner. They also often react inappropriately, forget important things, and are unreliable. This behavior is frustrating for the partner and difficult to understand, so he reacts with criticism and does not feel valued.

Often ADHD patients are also impulsive and emotional, suffer from mood swings and feel misunderstood, are therefore easily offended. If the attention disorder also affects sexuality, the relationship is also burdened. Frequent criticism from the partner lowers the patient's already low self-esteem even further. This makes the symptoms worse and the problems persist. Therefore, in order to avoid relationship failure due to misunderstanding, proper communication is required. The patient and his partner can learn this through the right therapy.

Medication for the symptoms

Most of the drugs used in ADHD belong to the group of so-called psychostimulants. They contain active ingredients that stimulate signal transmission in the brain and thus improve mental performance. The most commonly used active ingredient is that Methylphenidatecontained in drugs such as Ritalin® or Medikinet®. An alternative are various amphetamines, which work in a similar way. These stimulating drugs respond in around 80% of patients and are indicated when psychotherapy and behavioral therapy alone is not effective enough. Unfortunately, stimulants often have side effects, e.g. Sleep problems, loss of appetite and many more. In most cases, these are not serious, but occur in up to 50% of all treated patients.

There are other drugs that are used if the common substances are not sufficiently effective or if the patient has side effects of ADHD, e.g. Depression, suffering. However, these substances were actually developed to treat other diseases and also have side effects. Nevertheless, they can be very effective in individual cases and are prescribed at the doctor's discretion.

Possible accompanying symptoms

Here you can find out more about accompanying problems. In relation to the school sector, these include not only reading and writing weaknesses but also weaknesses in numeracy. On the lack of concentration - page you can find out more about the problems that also appear as symptoms in the area of ​​ADHD.

  • Reading and spelling weaknesses - LRS
  • Arithmetic weakness
  • Poor concentration

Other ADHD issues

  • ADHD
  • Causes of ADHD
  • ADHD symptoms
  • ADHD diagnosis
  • ADHD therapy
    • ADHD curative education
      • ADHD psychotherapy
      • Depth psychology
      • Behavior therapy
      • yoga
      • Autogenic training
    • ADHD medication
      • Methylphenidate
      • Ritalin
      • Antidepressants
    • ADHD diet
    • ADHD and the family
    • Educational games

Related topics

  • ADS
  • Poor concentration
  • Reading and spelling weaknesses / dyslexia
  • Arithmetic weakness / dyscalculia
  • Giftedness

A list of all the topics that we have published under our "Problems with Learning" page can be found at: Problems with learning A-Z