Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD for short, is characterized by problems in three areas: energy level, attention and impulse control (ability to think things through before acting). The sub type of ADHD depends on which of those three areas the person has problems in. As the term hyperactivity suggests, some people with ADHD, particularly children and adolescents, have too much energy. The high energy may show up as difficulty staying seated, running around in children or feeling restless in adults and adolescents, loud play or talking too much. Problems in attention can manifest as failure to pay attention to details, careless mistakes in schoolwork or work, trouble staying on task, messiness or disorganization or a tendency to misplace things. People with ADHD my not seem to listen when they are spoken to or may not follow through on instructions. They may be easily distracted and forgetful. The last problem area, impulsivity, may manifest as blurting out answers, trouble waiting one’s turn or a tendency to interrupt or intrude on others.

ADHD is believed to occur in 3-7% of children.

In order for someone to be diagnosed with ADHD he/she has to have shown symptoms before 7 years old. Though ADHD has traditionally been seen as a childhood disorder, it is now known that symptoms continue into adulthood for approximately 60% of people with ADHD. Adults with ADHD are more likely to procrastinate, have car accidents, change jobs a lot, abuse drugs and have relationship problems.

You may have heard that sugar causes ADHD symptoms, but research does not support such a connection between them. On the other hand, some research has shown a possible link between eating foods with additives like artificial colors or preservatives and an increase in activity.

Summaries of research looking at ADHD symptoms and diagnosis in Black children shows that while Black children are more likely to show ADHD symptoms, they are less likely to be diagnosed or receive treatment for it. Black children are more likely than the general population to have risk factors for ADHD including low birth weight, exposure to lead (often in old paint) and low socioeconomic status.

You can find more general information about ADHD and resources from the CDC by clicking here and from Children and Adults with ADHD aka CHADD by clicking here.