The symptoms of ADHD in all age groups

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Main symptoms of ADHD in children


Hyperactivity is the most “visible” symptom of ADHD. In the permanent activity, children with ADHD climb, jump from one place to another but also from one activity to another. Unable to remain seated, in class or at the table, they always have something to do. The obligation to stay in place requires considerable effort on their part and can lead to angry reactions.

They often get involved in sports activities, provided they are limited in time. Hyperactive children show great difficulty concentrating for a period of time on most of their tasks. Their attention is limited.

Distraction and forgetfulness

Distraction and forgetfulness are the rule. It is common to see people with ADHD staring at an object or another person when they are spoken to. They are then unable to repeat what has been said. Hyperactive schoolchildren often forget their things, simply because they were thinking about something else when they put them away.

Difficulty getting organized

Time management is difficult for children with ADHD. A task such as getting dressed in the morning can be like an obstacle course for parents who are in a hurry… For the child, getting dressed means organizing a complex sequence of activities, without being distracted by the many thoughts and projects going through his mind.

Often turbulent, hyperactive children experience very badly the refusals and limits that are placed on them. Capable of extreme reactions, they are not always aware of the consequences of their actions.

Childhood ADHD Disorders

Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities in reading (dyslexia) and writing (dysgraphia and dysorthographia) are often associated with ADHD without being a consequence. More than a third of hyperactive children have ADHD. Often referred to as clumsy, some children may have difficulty performing certain specific movements (dyspraxia) such as those required for successful crafts.

Although ADHD and learning disabilities are independent, they are often associated. Therefore, any development of academic delay will need to focus on assessing both areas.

Psychological Disorders

Hyperactive children have anxiety and depressive symptoms in more than a quarter of cases. Sleep is disrupted by difficult falling asleep, night-time movements and frequent nightmares. Opposition to parents and provocation may be the rule. Some small hyperactive patients can be negative, sometimes even aggressive and violent.

Main symptoms of ADHD in adolescents

Possible persistence after adolescence

ADHD has often been a pathology that disappears little by little over the years. It is now known that almost two-thirds of children will continue to show symptoms of ADHD in adolescence, especially if they suffer from associated psychological problems.

If the diagnosis has not been made, if treatment is absent or ineffective, the hyperactive adolescent is often disengaged from school and lacks confidence due to successive failures.

The age of all dangers

Often isolated, the hyperactive child remains so during adolescence or turns to unstable relationships. Family relationships deteriorate. If the patient receives medication, he or she may refuse it in an attempt to gain independence from parents. Daily life is disrupted. Sleep schedules are not respected.

Risk behaviors

Lack of inhibitions and impulsiveness lead the teenager to engage in risky activities: dangerous sports, unprotected sex… Hyperactive teenagers have more frequent unwanted pregnancies.

Substance use

Tense inside, constantly on the edge, hyperactive teens tend to turn to certain drugs for relief. Alcohol is also popular with ADHD teens because it stimulates social interaction and soothes anxiety.

Main symptoms of ADHD in adults

A variable evolution

About one-third of hyperactive children will no longer be hyperactive as adults, perhaps because the symptoms have disappeared altogether, but more likely because they have learned how to compensate. Nearly two-thirds of children will therefore retain, to varying degrees, manifestations of ADHD.

If the basic core (inattention-hyperactivityimpulsivity) persists in the majority of cases, it evolves strongly according to each person’s history, failures, successes, and personal and professional environment. It is therefore difficult to draw the typical portrait of ADHD in adulthood!

Attention difficulties

Attention difficulties in adults are characterized by rapid boredom, poor time management, organizational and planning difficulties. Hyperactives tend to become involved in secondary activities without choosing priorities.

The brain in turmoil

The brain is often described as a volcano, always boiling. Hyperactives often have the greatest difficulty going to bed and falling asleep.


Impulsivity may subside over time. In some cases, the difficulties encountered during adolescence may be aggravated, especially if the patient has committed acts of delinquency or uses drugs.

Without reaching these extremes, there is often a low tolerance for frustration, impatience and loss of temper.

Associated psychological problems

ADHD in adulthood is characterized by a high degree of associated problems. Nearly two-thirds of hyperactive adults will experience depression, anxiety, drug use or sleep problems. In some cases an antisocial personality may develop. This is defined by behaviour that shows contempt for others, transgression and aggression.

Compensation Mechanisms

Often unconsciously, the hyperactive patient, who has always lived with his or her problem, develops mechanisms called compensation mechanisms. They can be positive. Some develop rigor and firmness that allows them to compensate for their attentional difficulties. Constantly on their agenda, scrupulous in their schedules, they are perfectionists and sometimes rigid in their social relationships and at home. These mechanisms can also be negative if they consist of the use of drugs (especially cannabis and alcohol) to soothe anxiety, to give themselves courage on the way home, or to fall asleep.


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