ADHD is an umbrella term for all variations of a disorder, including those formally known as ADD. When making a diagnosis, physicians and psychiatrists use a combination of child and parent interviews along with a checklist of common behaviors associated with ADHD. Several different forms of ADHD checklists are available, but the only one appropriate for diagnosis is found in The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), and paraphrased on the CDC website. Not every symptom or behavior will appear in every child who has ADHD. For example, the Center for Disease Control notes that a child with ADHD typically exhibits at least six of the nine behaviors listed in each section.
The checklist questions regarding inattention serve as a basic assessment of how challenging it is for your child to pay attention, even to seemingly obvious or important matters. The inattentive behaviors on the ADHD checklist range from appearing carelessness and forgetful, to disorganized and messy. A child with ADHD may constantly lose everything from her coat and shoes to her homework and backpack. Her binder, desk or toys may appear constantly disorganized. She may "space out" to the extent that she doesn't hear her name when called.
A child with ADHD is frequently and easily distracted, either by what's going on around him or by the newest idea just popped into his head. This leads him to start new projects or play with many different toys without completing any one activity. Even small distractions, such as a waving flag or a blinking light, are enough to distract him completely from the task at hand. In school, he may strongly resist tasks that require sustained focus and concentration.
Impulsive behavior is a key checklist trait for children with ADHD. Being impulsive doesn't just mean she regularly tries risky stunts despite being old enough to know better. According to the ADDitude Magazine checklist, impulsive tendencies can cause your child to constantly interrupt others, blurt out answers without waiting until the end of the question. She may grab toys from peers, struggle to wait her turn and carelessly, though not maliciously, push past someone in her way without recognizing her rudeness.
Hyperactive behavior comes in many different forms, according to the ADHD checklist used by the CDC. Your child may appear to be "driven by a motor" running, jumping and leaping long after his peers are exhausted and he may constantly squirm or fidget, particularly when he's expected to stay still or seated. However, hyperactivity can also appear as excessive or incessant talking even when told to be quiet, he may also be constantly talking to peers, even when they're obviously occupied in another task.