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The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders, 2nd Edition by Sandra F. Rief

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1.5 Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

In making a diagnosis of ADHD, a qualified clinician does so based on the criteria set forth in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association, which is described in detail in List 1.3.

The DSM-5 lists nine specific symptoms under the inattention category and nine specific symptoms under the hyperactive-impulsive category. Part of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD is that the child, teen, or adult often displays a significant number of symptoms of either the inattentive or the hyperactive-impulsive categories or in both categories.

Following are behaviors or observable symptoms that are common in children and teens with ADHD. The eighteen symptoms that are found in the DSM-5 criteria are italicized. Additional symptoms associated with ADHD are also included, but they are not italicized.

All people exhibit these behaviors at times. If a child or teen frequently exhibits several of these symptoms and they are affecting his or her functioning and causing him or her problems (e.g., at school or socially), it is a red flag that an evaluation for ADHD is appropriate. The evaluation determines if all of the DSM-5 criteria have been met in order to receive the diagnosis of ADHD (Lists 1.3, 1.15).

Symptoms of Inattention and Associated Problems

  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for example, sights, sounds, movement in the environment)
  • Does not seem to listen ...

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