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Frequently asked questions about ADHD

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

A child or adult with ADHD has symptoms that may include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, although the condition can continue into adulthood.

ADHD is a behavioural disorder affecting between 2 and 5% of school children and young people in the UK.

What should I look out for if I suspect someone had ADHD?

Some of the warning signs include failure to listen to instructions, inability to organise oneself and school work, fidgeting, talking too much, leaving projects, chores and homework unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to details.

Is ADHD caused by bad parenting?

There is little compelling evidence that ADHD can arise purely from social or parenting factors. Most substantiated causes appear to fall in the realm of neurobiology and genetics. Causes include:

Environmental: studies have shown a possible correlation between the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy and ADHD in the offspring of that pregnancy. Another possible environmental cause is high levels of lead in the bodies of preschool children.

Genetics: attention disorders often run in families. Studies indicate that 25% of the close relatives of ADHD children also have ADHD, whereas the rate is about 5% in the general population.

Food additives and sugar: Certain food additives, and also sugar, may increase levels of hyperactivity in some children. However, to date, no conclusive evidence has been found to show that food additives, or sugar, actually cause ADHD.
Most likely, ADHD is caused by the combination of changes in brain structure, environmental factors, and heredity.

How is an ADHD diagnosis made?

A professional with training in ADHD should make the diagnosis.

The symptoms of ADHD in children and adolescents are well defined. The NHS details the main symptoms of each behavioural problem below:


  • A very short attention span
  • Being very easily distracted
  • Being unable to stick at tasks that are tedious, or time consuming
  • Being unable to listen to, or carry out, instructions
  • Being unable to concentrate
  • Constantly changing activity, or task


  • Being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • Constantly fidgeting
  • Being unable to settle to tasks
  • Excessive physical movement


  • Being unable to wait for a turn
  • Acting without thinking
  • Breaking any set rules
  • Little or no sense of danger

If your child has ADHD, their symptoms will usually become noticeable at around the age of five.

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