ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is often picked up when children are young and are struggling to:

  • pay attention
  • stay focused or concentrate
  • sit still without fidgeting or becoming restless (hyperactivity)
  • think before they do things

Many of us go through phases where we are fidgety or find it hard to pay attention. This can be completely normal and does not mean you have ADHD.

Things normally get better as children get older, but some adults are affected all their lives. ADHD affects more boys than girls.

What does it mean?


ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

This is a disorder that includes symptoms which can be categorised into 2 types of problems:

  • inattentiveness and hyperactivity
  • impulsiveness.

ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder.

It has similar symptoms to ADHD, but without the hyperactivity.

The main problem for people experiencing ADD is poor concentration.

What does ADHD look like?

School or college can be difficult places for young people with ADHD. The need to concentrate is tough and they can appear as if:

  • they’re not listening in lessons
  • they’re easily distracted and
  • they forget information and instructions given to them

So it’s important teachers know if you have ADHD. They need to know how it affects you, how it impacts your learning and what support you need.

At home you’ll probably need support and somewhere quiet to get your homework and other stuff done.

ADHD can be managed with medication and behaviour management strategies.


The symptoms of ADHD in children and adolescents are usually noticeable before the age of 6 years. Such symptoms will occur in more than 1 situation; therefore, they will occur in home and school.

Some people can have problems with inattentiveness only, therefore not have problems with hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This form of ADHD is known as Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and the symptoms of this can be less obvious.

Indicators of ADHD

  • Inattention, hyperactivity (including restlessness) and impulsivity since starting primary school
  • impulsivity and lack of concentration is significantly impacting on school functioning, such that teachers feel that this is holding a child back academically and socially
  • Limited and/or disrupted sleep
  • Previous services involved, ie. Educational Psychologist/Behaviour Support Service, and outcome
  • Previous and current behaviour plans in place and outcome
  • Description of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity in the home environment and any support the parents have accessed to address these behaviour traits.

These types of behaviour are common in most children. It becomes a problem when these characteristics are exaggerated, compared to other children of the same age, and when the behaviour affects the child’s social and school life. Often the signs will have been obvious since the child was a toddler.

Top tips for getting help

  • Remember to look after yourself and make sure you have a good diet with regular meals, it is easy to become distracted and miss out on meals and getting a shower etc.
  • Get a good sleep routine of going to bed at a regular time, not getting enough sleep can make you more irritable and affect your concentration.
  • Use your phone to create a list of things to do and reminders to do them and set yourself
  • Make a list and set yourself timers for each task.
  • If you are in a meeting or lesson write down anything you are expected to do in a diary in case you forget.

Getting help

If these behaviours are affecting your daily routine or making school or time at home particularly challenging then talk to someone you trust and visit your GP. There isn’t a test for ADHD and so instead a psychiatrist may talk to you about your feelings, moods and difficulties to find out the best way to help.

Non-urgent advice: Other sources of help

  • NHS choices is a great place to find out more info about ADHD; what it is, and how to get help.
  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPSYCH) have some really helpful information for young people about ADHD.
  • ADDISS, the National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service is worth a look too.

For more information on ADHD visit Young Minds or find out how you can access our services so that we can support you.

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Page last reviewed: 20 December, 2023