The 3 Types of ADHD
“Remember that you are not alone. There are others going through the same thing.” – Adam Levine, lead singer and show host with ADHD
The three different types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are hyperactive-impulsive, inattentive, and combined presentation. The hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive subtypes are differentiated by their distinct symptoms, while a person with combined presentation ADHD demonstrates several symptoms of both types. Through observation of the child’s behavior, medical professionals diagnose both the type and the severity of ADHD. As a parent, teacher, family member, or friend, it’s important to be familiar with these different classifications to strengthen awareness and improve daily interactions involving this learning difficulty.
Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is often identified at a very young age. This subtype of ADHD is characterized by a constant urge to move and a difficulty controlling impulses. Due to the nature of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, it is extremely noticeable and embodies the general public perception of this learning challenge.
Some of the primary symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are constantly moving, frequently fidgeting, or playing with any objects within reach. Children with this subtype tap their hands or feet, squirm in their seat, or walk away from their desk mid-lesson. Additionally, children with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD exhibit an inability to control impulses. They are often singing or talking to themselves and struggle to participate in quiet activities. Blurting out responses, incessant talking, immediate retaliation, and a lack of anger management are all conventional signs of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD.
Inattentive ADHD can be obscure and difficult to diagnose. Children with this subtype are more reserved and not necessarily disruptive. Inattentive ADHD children struggle to pay attention and are very easily distracted, though they do not exhibit hyperactive behavior. These children may appear spacey or shy and are often perceived as daydreaming or uninterested. Because the standard behavior of a person with inattentive ADHD is not blatant or disturbing, this particular classification sometimes goes unnoticed.
The inability to pay attention is one of the main characteristics of inattentive ADHD. Students with inattentive ADHD lose focus during tests, leave classwork unfinished, and make careless mistakes on assignments. Their short attention spans can cause disorganization and forgetfulness. Often times, children misplace important possessions. Children with this form of ADHD may frequently zone out in the middle of a conversation. When a person with inattentive ADHD has these symptoms, their behavior may be misinterpreted as uninterested, rude, lacking dedication, or conceited, which further increases anxiety levels and causes extreme amounts of stress and frustration.
Combined Presentation ADHD
Combined presentation ADHD is a combination of both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive ADHD. Children with combined presentation ADHD struggle in several areas of each classification, though they progressively display less difficulty with hyperactivity and impulsivity as they reach adolescence. To be diagnosed with combined presentation ADHD, a child must exhibit multiple signs of both forms of ADHD in a variety of settings and for a duration of at least six months.
Children with combined presentation ADHD are easier to identify than with other subtypes of ADHD. These energetic children are impulsively interrupting others, misplacing belongings, fidgeting in their seats, and intermittently spacing out. They may find school extremely challenging and frequently reflect their frustrations with poor attitude and outbursts. Boundless energy and discomfort coupled with a severe lack of focus and an intense emotional capacity create an abundance of anxiety and erratic behavior.
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