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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder causes children and adults to have problems with poor attention, over activity, and poor impulse control. 

ADHD has been studied for over a century with many previous names including "minimal brain dysfunction" and "attention deficit disorder." The scientific literature about this disorder is immense.

Symptoms How a Child May Behave







  • Does not give attention to details, makes careless mistakes
  • Difficulty holding attention for a long time
  • Does not seem to listen
  • Does not follow through on instructions or finish tasks
  • Is disorganized
  • Avoids things that require sustained mental effort
  • Loses a lot of things
  • Is easily distracted from work or play
  • Forgetful in daily activities





  • Is constantly moving, as if "driven by a motor"
  • Has difficutly staying seated, such as in school or during meals
  • Squirms and fidgets
  • Talks too much
  • Runs, jumps, and climbs when it is not permitted or appropriate
  • Cannot play quietly




  • Interrupts others
  • Calls out answers before the question is complete
  • Trouble waiting their turn


Different Types of ADHD

There are 3 main types of ADHD.

  • Inattentive (previously call attention deficit disorder or ADD)
    • Their main symptoms are from attention, but they are not overly active.
      Because they do not disrupt at school, their symptoms may not be noticed.
  • Hyperactive/Impulsive
    • Their main symptoms are from hyperactivity and impulsivity, but they can pay attention.
  • Combined
    • They have symptoms of all 3 types. This is the most common type of ADHD.


How to Treat ADHD

You can do a number of things to help ADHD:

  • Educate your children and their family about ADHD
  • Medicines (Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall)
  • Work with the school to train the child to be more organized


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will the medications change my child's personality?
    • No. The medications should help your child focus and help them take the time to make better decisions. It should not change their personality. If it does, be sure to talk to your doctor.
  • Will the medications cause side effects?
    • Some children experience side effects while taking the medications. The side effects depend on the medications. Possible ones include:
      • Being less hungry
      • Trouble sleeping
    • Talk to your doctor about which side effects to watch for, and what to do if they happen.
  • Will the medications for ADHD cause problems for my child in the future?
    • Research shows that these medications help protect the child over time. Children with ADHD who are treated with medications are more likely to make good decisions about drugs and alcohol when they are teenagers and adults.
  • What about other or "alternative" treatments for ADHD?
    • While options like supplements and special diets are popular, they have not been proven to help. They also have potential side effects. Please talk to your doctor before you start one of these treatments.
  • Will my child ever outgrow ADHD? Will they always need to take medication?
    • While some people do outgrow their ADHD, some still need medication as adults. The symptoms of ADHD often look different in adults and some people can find ways to adapt so they do not need medication.


Additional ADHD resources

ADHD handouts in English

ADHD handouts in Spanish

Helpful Websites:

National Resource Center on ADHD

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/HyperActivity Disorder

National Institute of Mental Health

ADDitude - Strategies and Support for ADHD & LD

Tennessee Disability Coalition

National Center for Learning Disabilites

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - ADHD

5 Ways To Help Siblings Get Along

What We Know - Info Sheets on ADHD

Tennessee Department of Education - Special Education