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Overview of ADHD

ADHD can affect a child’s behaviour, they can seem restless, day dreamy, angry, and impulsive. Most often children are diagnosed before the age of 12, but it may also be diagnosed later in childhood if the difficulties have not been understood.


ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by excessive activity, difficulty paying attention and a tendency to act without thinking. Difficulties arising from ADHD are separated into two groups of symptoms; inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity & impulsivity. Children often present with both groups of symptoms, this is known as the ‘combined type ADHD’. Some children may experience one set of symptoms and are therefore diagnosed with either the ‘inattentive type’ or ‘hyperactive-impulsive’ type. All people can experience difficulties with paying attention or acting without thinking, however for those with ADHD the symptoms lead to ongoing difficulties in life and are persistently seen at home and school. 

Causes of ADHD

The causes of ADHD are not fully understood, but research suggests a strong genetic link with ADHD often running in families and many adults are often identified once their children have been diagnosed and vice-versa. Research from genetic studies shows that parents and siblings of a child with ADHD are four to five times more likely to have ADHD themselves. 

Impact of untreated ADHD

ADHD can negatively impact functioning and behaviour of young children and teenagers in school. Young people may struggle with following instructions, failing to meet deadlines for homework and assignments, making careless errors in work, and acting in inappropriate ways in social situations. Research suggests that people with untreated ADHD are at increased risk of failing to pass their GCSEs or A-Levels, and less likely to graduate from university. 

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