Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) occurs when problems with inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity significantly interfere with a person's ability to function at school or at work, or with their social relationships. ADHD affects approximately 3-5% of school-age children and in approximately 4% of adults age 18-44 in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
People with the inattentive type of ADHD (which used to be called ADD) have trouble maintaining their concentration. They may daydream often, are easily distracted, and have trouble sticking with one activity for long. People with this type of ADHD can often sit still and look like they're paying attention to what's going on around them. This makes it hard for family members or others to notice the attention problems.
People with the hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD have trouble sitting still. They're up and out of their seat, have trouble waiting their turn, interrupt others who are speaking, and often speak or act before thinking. This causes them to say or do things they may regret later.
Both types of ADHD are often accompanied by deficits in executive functioning (the ability to initiate and organize behavior). Deficits in executive functioning make it hard to keep track of one's belongings, or to manage time effectively.
People with either type of ADHD often show variable attention; they're able to pay attention in some settings but not in others. A diagnosis of ADHD means that a person can't consistently pay attention when he or she wants or needs to do so.
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