Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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Definition

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is a behavioral disorder that makes it very difficult to focus on daily tasks and activities. People with ADHD typically have challenges focussing, organizing themselves, making plans, and thinking before they act.1 ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children.

ADHD is diagnosed as one of three types1 :

Doesn’t pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school or job tasks, has problems staying focused while doing tasks and activities; does not seem to listen when spoken to; does not follow through on instructions and doesn’t complete schoolwork, chores or job duties; has problems organizing tasks and work; avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort; often loses things needed for tasks or daily life; is easily distracted; forgets daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands.
Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat, is not able to stay seated; runs about or climbs where it is inappropriate; unable to play or do leisure activities quietly; talks too much; blurts out an answer before a question has been finished; has difficulty waiting his or her turn; interrupts or intrudes on others.
An estimated 8.4 percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults have ADHD. It is more common among boys than girls.1
Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (not being able to maintain focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that does not match the context) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought).1 *Refer to definition for more examples*
Scientists have not yet identified the specific causes of ADHD. There is evidence that genetics contribute to ADHD. For example, three out of four children with ADHD have a relative with the disorder. Other factors that may contribute to the development of ADHD include being born prematurely, brain injury and the mother smoking, using alcohol or having extreme stress during pregnancy.1
Researchers are using new tools such as brain imaging to better understand the condition and to find more effective ways to treat and prevent ADHD.4
  • For school-aged children, teachers and school staff can provide parents and doctors with information to help evaluate behavior and learning problems, and can assist with behavioral training. Students whose ADHD impairs their learning may qualify for special education, they can benefit from study skills instruction, changes to the classroom setup, alternative teaching techniques and a modified curriculum.1
  • Adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. Behavior management strategies to minimize distractions and increase structure and organization can also be helpful.1
Funded by

Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience & Culture Laboratory
School of Psychology
Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Ottawa

136 Jean-Jacques Lussier, Ottawa, ON,
Canada, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 ext. 4459
vtrac@uOttawa.ca