A neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, has symptoms presenting in two or more settings (e.g. at home, school, or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities), and negatively impacts directly on social, academic or occupational functioning. Children with ADHD have difficulty focusing (picking something on which to pay attention), sustaining focus (paying attention for as long as is needed), and shifting focus (moving attention from one thing to another); tend to fidget, talk excessively or be constantly "on the go"; and speak and act on impulse rather than waiting their turn. Symptoms typically worsen in situations like the classroom that require sustained focus and self-application, and may be absent when the child is in a new or one-to-one situation. In the adult form of ADHD, the symptoms associated with hyperactivity may diminish while those related to inattention and impulsiveness persist. Adult symptoms may include lack of attention to detail, inability to maintain focus, poor listening skills, disorganization, forgetfulness, misplacing or losing things, being overwhelmed by tasks of daily living, difficulty sustaining friendships or intimate relationships, impulsive spending habits, restlessness, irritability, low tolerance for frustration, emotional outbursts and poor self esteem. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms.
A disorder arising in childhood or adolescence which is marked by an inability to learn or other functional deficits that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers, teachers and other adults; inappropriate types of behaviour or feelings under normal circumstances; a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; and a tendency to develop physical fears associated with school problems or other issues that is severe enough to adversely affect the child's educational performance or ability to engage in age-appropriate activities. Characteristics may include hyperactivity, aggression or self-injurious behaviour, withdrawal, immaturity, and learning difficulties.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.