It depends largely on age…

The difficulties of ADD begin in infancy and continue through adulthood. They can show up in academics, work, or behavior. When behavior symptoms predominate, a child is often felt to be hyperactive, but this is not really the “key” symptom. Some symptoms are unique to certain ages, while others are lifelong.

An individual with ADD may not have all of the symptoms listed here, but is likely to have many. On the other hand, just because your child has some or even all of the symptoms listed below does NOT necessarily mean they have ADD. These are just symptomsthe same symptoms can also be caused by many other disorders.

All ages…

  • Short attention span – “burns out” quickly.
  • Easily bored – only attends to things of high interest to self.
  • Distractible – can’t “tune out” noises, movement, or “attractions” around them.
  • Distracted – preoccupied with internal thoughts/feelings.
  • Impulsive – rushes into and through things, not thinking before acting.
  • Insatiable – never satisfied, always wants more, can’t delay gratification.
  • Restless – in constant physical (fidgety) or mental (can’t stick to one task) motion.
  • Impersistence – low “stick-to-it-iveness”, gives up easily.
  • Inconsistency – does something well at one time, poorly another.


  • Difficulty establishing feeding/sleep schedule.
  • Tendency to squirm away from parents’ cuddling attempts.
  • Hard to console.

Toddler & Preschool years…

  • Fearlessness – may be accident prone, or frequently get into mischief/danger
  • Demands constant attention – unable to entertain or play by self.
  • Verbal & physical intrusion into other peoples “space” (games, interactions).
  • Insatiable curiosity.
  • Difficulty with transitions & changes in daily routine.
  • Can’t sit still for meals, TV, stories.

School Age…

  • Underachievement – all academic subjects.
  • Disruptive of classroom.
  • Poor study habits – doesn’t finish assignments.
  • Inconsistent grades.
  • Behavior problems which seem unintentional (“gets into trouble without meaning to”) and don’t respond easily to normal discipline.
  • Fidgetiness & Hyperactivity

Adolescence & Adulthood…

  • More control over activity level but “mentally fidgety“, can’t stick to one thing.
  • Disorganized – affecting work and school.
  • Doesn’t finish things – lots of “loose ends” in life.
  • Easily Bored.
  • Social difficulties – loses friends easily.
  • Poor self esteem.