The three main characteristics of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, are inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. If the children only have difficulty controlling their attention and impulses, but are not hyperactive, they are said to have attention deficit disorder. This so-called ADHD occurs more frequently in girls than in boys.
These main symptoms are often accompanied by other disorders: Many of the affected children have difficulties in learning, show a reading/spelling or arithmetic disability, suffer from other psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, bedwetting or tic disorders. They are usually also conspicuous for their social behavior: they are defiant, aggressive or have difficulty following rules.
manifestations in childhood and adolescence
The symptoms of ADHD show up differently at each age of life. How severe they are, how they develop over the course of a lifetime, and what impact they have on the lives of those affected depends on a variety of factors: biological characteristics, psychosocial conditions, and environmental conditions. However, affected children of all age groups have one thing in common: their emotional and social development. Psychosocial development is delayed compared to other children.
Often, but not always, children diagnosed with ADHD were already conspicuous as infants, and their parents experienced them as "difficult" from the beginning: as restless and easily excitable "writing babies" with difficulties adjusting, eating or sleeping problems. Affected infants also often reject physical contact with other people.
In kindergarten, children with ADHD usually stand out because of their pronounced restlessness and "fidgetiness": they are constantly on the move and literally walk across tables and benches. When playing, they have little stamina, get angry easily, and have difficulty following rules and fitting in with the group.
Children with ADHD, on the other hand, are often particularly dreamy, playful and slow. They also tend to be developmentally delayed in speech and rather clumsy in motor skills. They cry quickly, are usually very clingy and anxious, and often have no or only one friend.
By preschool age at the latest, the typical symptoms appear permanently in all affected children and in all areas of life.
At school, children suffering from ADHD usually find it difficult to implement the many instructions from educators, teachers and parents due to their disturbed perception. They are messy and chaotic, and this is also reflected in their handwriting. In class, these students are usually unfocused and distract their classmates. But they are also often a nuisance at home, for example when visitors come, and have difficulty keeping themselves occupied. "Fights" with parents over meals or homework are part of everyday life for affected families.
Despite these disorders, however, all these children also have many positive characteristics: they are almost always particularly helpful, curious, creative and imaginative, and have a strong sense of justice.
While the outward restlessness usually diminishes after puberty, adolescents with ADHD remain impulsive and inattentive in the majority of cases. Furthermore, lack of self-esteem, anxiety and depression come to the fore. At this age at the latest, the affected adolescents often stand out due to poor performance at school, although they are actually intelligent and creative.