ADHD or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurological condition that affects people across the lifespan. There are however different ways that the symptoms of this condition can present themselves in children compared to adults.
There are three different types of ADHD, ADHD Inattentive type, ADHD impulsivity/hyperactive type and ADHD combined.
The predominantly inattentive presentation (formerly ADD) is categorised by symptoms related to an inability to pay attention. This can result in an inability to stay focused. Those with this type of ADHD may not present in a way that is hyperactive.
The predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation is categorised by symptoms that are related to hyperactivity and impulsivity. This may present itself in symptoms such as fidgeting, talking excessively, interrupting others, running, jumping or moving their body more than others and not being tired after activities that may otherwise exhaust others. Those with this type of ADHD may not present with inattentive symptoms.
The combined presentation involves having both of the above symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention.
Often the biggest differences between how ADHD presents itself in children compared to adults involves that adults and children may express and experience hyperactivity and impulsivity differently.
Children often are fidgety, move around in their seat and get up when they shouldn’t. They may also feel the need to run around, jump or climb on things, whereas adults will often feel restless and fidget with their hands or feet which can present as more subtle.
What does ADHD look like in children?
Difficulty completing or staying focused on tasks
Appearing to not listen when being spoken to
Difficulty remembering things
Ability to follow instructions
Not paying attention to detail
Making careless errors
Often loosing things
Keeping quiet for extended periods of time
Making careless mistakes
Climbing, jumping, or running in excess
Hard to become tired
Appears always on the go
Acting without thought
Difficulty waiting their turn
Unable to stay seated when it would be appropriate to do so
What does ADHD look like in adults?
Often adults with ADHD have reported that symptoms are less severe than during childhood including a reduction in hyperactive symptoms. However there are other ways that adults can present as being hyperactive that do not present the same as children, for example:
Hyperactivity in adults can present in the following ways:
Feelings of restlessness
Interrupting others in conversation
Finishing other people’s sentences
Difficulty waiting ones turn
Trouble staying still and relaxing
Acting as if they are “run by a motor”
Other symptoms include:
Difficulty with organisation
Difficulty prioritising or getting started on tasks
Forgetting to complete tasks
Issues around emotional regulation
Low frustration tolerance
Issues with impulsivity
Want more resources or reading?