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The 3 Types of ADHD Cheat Sheet by

types     healthcare     mental     adhd


ADHD doesn’t look the same in all kids. In fact, there are three ways a child with ADHD might “present.” Some people think of these as three subtypes of ADHD, or three types of ADHD.

The type of ADHD a child presents depends on the signs that child has. ADHD symptoms fall into two catego­ries. One is inatte­ntion. The other is hypera­cti­vit­y/i­mpu­lsi­vity. Symptoms can change as kids get older, however, so the type of ADHD they present can also change.

1. Hypera­cti­ve-­Imp­ulsive Presen­tation

Kids who have this type of ADHD have symptoms of hypera­ctivity and feel the need to move consta­ntly. They also struggle with impulse control. Typically they don’t have much trouble with inatte­ntion. This type is seen most often in very young children.

It’s often easier to spot signs of this type of ADHD. Kids who have it may struggle to sit still in class and manage their behavior.

2. Inatte­ntive Presen­tation

Kids who have this type of ADHD have difficulty paying attention. They’re easily distracted but don’t have much trouble with impuls­ivity or hypera­cti­vity. This is sometimes unoffi­cially referred to as attent­ion­-de­ficit disorder (or ADD).

Kids with this type of ADHD may “fly under the radar” because they may not be disruptive in class. In fact, they may appear shy or “daydr­eamy.” They may not have signif­icant behavior problems. But their problems with attention may still cause them a lot of diffic­ulty.

3. Combined Presen­tation

Kids with this type of ADHD show signif­icant problems with both hypera­cti­vit­y/i­mpu­lsivity and inatte­ntion. They may gradually have less trouble with hypera­cti­vit­y/i­mpu­lsivity as they get into their teen years, however.

How it is Diagnosed


Signs of ADHD in Presch­ool­–Grade 2

Has trouble getting started on tasks and routines, such as getting dressed or putting away toys.
Often ignores directions or delays too much in following direct­ions.
Has a harder time sitting still during meals or group activities than other kids her age.
Gets up, fidgets or talks when she’s expected to be quiet.
Has trouble stopping one activity to begin another.
Struggles to slow down enough to do things carefully.
Needs to be reminded a lot to stop and listen.
Has a harder time paying attention than most kids her age.
Grabs things without permis­sion.
Is unable to wait for directions before starting an activity.
Takes too much time or needs a lot of encour­agement to complete routine tasks.
Has trouble rememb­ering direct­ions.
Has trouble recalling facts she learned recently.
Tends to get very upset or angry over what ought to be minor frustr­ations.

Signs of ADHD in Grades 3–7

Has a tough time getting started on tasks, especially when the tasks involve more than one step.
Is often very restless.
Often fidgets, moves around or makes too much noise when he’s expected to be quiet.
Tends to forget what he just heard or read, unless it’s really intere­sting to him.
Often rushes through assign­ments or produces messy work with lots of careless mistakes.
Often seems to be working below his potential in school or on homework.
“Spaces out” a lot or loses focus easily.
Often stops doing chores, homework or other activities without finishing them.
Has trouble rememb­ering day-to-day things.
Tends to forget things like bringing home notes or handing in homework.
Struggles to keep track of his stuff.
Has trouble waiting his turn to join a conver­sation or activity.
Worries that he’ll forget what he wants to say unless he says it right away.
Has a hard time thinking through the conseq­uences of his actions.
Often says or does things without consid­ering what might happen as a result.
Works too slowly.
Has trouble finishing tasks—such as taking a quiz or writing a book report­—within a reasonable period of time.

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