Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral childhood disorders, commonly known as ADHD. ADHD affects a child or adolescent’s ability to pay attention, focus, or control impulsive behaviors.

There are three types of ADHD:

Predominately Inattentive type:

  • Doesn’t pay attention
  • Less likely to have outwardly noticeable symptoms
  • Difficulty following instructions, finishing tasks or daily chores
  • 6 or more symptoms from the inattention category

Predominately Hyperactive-Impulsive type:

  • Fidgets and talks constantly
  • Difficulty controlling impulses, such as interruption, grabbing things, or speaking at inappropriate times
  • Constantly in motion
  • Very impatient- doesn’t wait for turn in games or activities
  • 6 or more symptoms from the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories

Combined type:

  • Equal number of symptoms for both hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention categories


Pediatricians are able to diagnose children with ADHD, but may refer them to a neurologist or neuropsychologist for further evaluation. Not all children who have the symptoms meet the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD. Some other disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities, may present with similar symptoms as ADHD. There is not a simple, single test used to diagnose ADHD. 


Medications used to treat ADHD work by either increasing or reducing the availability of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The result is improvement in the child’s ability to concentrate and a decrease in impulsivity and hyperactive behaviors. Common medications include:

  • Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate
  • Ritalin
  • Focalin
  • Concerta
  • Daytrana
  • Metadate
  • Amphetamine
  • Adderall
  • Vyvanse
  • Alpha Agonist Anti-hypertensives
  • Tenex
  • Intuniv
  • Atomoxetine
  • Strattera

Erlanger Resources

Pediatric Neurology