Child Behavior


ADHD—What Is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?

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Almost all children can experience times when they don't seem to be paying attention, when they can't sit still, or when they have trouble taking turns. However, if any of these behaviors occur often and interfere with daily life, finding out the cause is important.

If attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the cause, effective treatments are available to help your child manage life at home, in school, and in other settings. Keep in mind that not all children with ADHD have all the symptoms. Your child's doctor will fine-tune a plan that's best for your child's individual needs. Here is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about ADHD.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a condition of the brain that makes it difficult for children to manage their attention, activity, and impulses. ADHD is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. It affects 6% to 12% of school-aged children. ADHD is diagnosed about 3 times more often in males than in females. However, that may be because females more frequently have the inattentive type that goes unnoticed. The condition affects children in specific ways.

ADHD continues into adulthood in most cases. However, by developing their strengths, structuring their environments, and using medication when needed, adults with ADHD can lead very productive lives. ADHD doesn't need to interfere with their daily lives.

There is no cure for ADHD at this time, but some children learn to compensate enough that they can manage without any medication. Research is ongoing to learn more about the role of the brain in people with ADHD, long-term outcomes for people with ADHD, and the best ways to treat the disorder.

The number of children getting treatment for ADHD has risen. It is not clear whether more children have ADHD or more children with ADHD are now receiving a diagnosis of ADHD and treatment. Also, more children with ADHD are getting treatment for a longer period. ADHD is one of the most common and most studied behavioral conditions of childhood. Because of more awareness and better ways to diagnose and treat ADHD, more children are being helped.

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Here is a list of ADHD support groups and resources. Also, your child's doctor may know about specific resources in your community.

ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association)

Center for Parent Information & Resources

CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)—The National Resource

Center on ADHD

National Institute of Mental Health

Tourette Association of America


Adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics patient education booklet, Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

In all aspects of its publishing program (writing, review, and production), the AAP is committed to promoting principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Any websites, brand names, products, or manufacturers are mentioned for informational and identification purposes only and do not imply an endorsement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP is not responsible for the content of external resources. Information was current at the time of publication. The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.