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What is ADHD in children?

Celia Hornos Velázquez
Pediatric Neurology visits and Pediatrics
03 May 2024
3 Min
Health tips

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is one of the most common behavioral disorders in childhood and usually persists into adulthood. According to the Spanish Federation of ADHD Support Associations, it is estimated to affect between 8 and 10% of school-age children.

Children with ADHD can understand what is expected of them, but it is difficult for them to complete tasks, as they have difficulty sitting still, sustaining attention and often have impulsive behavior. While it is true that all children, especially younger children, sometimes behave this way, especially if they are excited or happy, children with ADHD do not outgrow these behaviors as they get older and the symptoms continue, which can lead to poor school performance, problematic relationships and low self-esteem.


ADHD symptoms begin before 12 years of age and in some children, they are noticed as early as 3 years of age. Mainly, we can divide them into two categories: inattentive type and active-impulsive type. It is important to keep in mind that the symptoms of ADHD vary considerably from one child to another and may be different over time.

– In the inattentive type, signs include the following:

  • Inability to pay attention to detail or distractibility resulting in a tendency to make mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.
  • Difficulty maintaining sustained attention to tasks or play.
  • Apparent hearing problems.
  • Difficulty following instructions.
  • Organizational problems.
  • Tendency to avoid activities that require mental effort.
  • Ease to be distracted, dispersion.
  • Tendency to have forgetfulness in daily activities.


Hyperactive-impulsive type, signs include the following:

  • Repetitive gestures or movements that denote nervousness or restlessness.
  • Difficulty sitting still.
  • Tendency to run or climb places excessively.
  • Difficulty playing quietly.
  • Excessive or uncontrolled talking.
  • Responding impulsively to questions without fully listening to them.
  • Difficulty waiting their turn and waiting in line.
  • Tendency to interrupt.


Combined type, includes a combination of the two previous types and is the most frequent.



The diagnosis of ADHD is clinical, based on detailed assessment of the child’s behavior in different contexts. Interviews with parents or guardians are conducted, school reports are reviewed and a variety of specific scales and questionnaires are used. Diagnosis cannot be based simply on a checklist of symptoms; it must be a complex, multidimensional process.

Sometimes it can be complicated to diagnose this disorder as it often presents with other coexisting problems or conditions such as oppositional defiant disorder, dissocial disorder, mood disorders, anxiety disorder or learning disorders.



The treatment of ADHD is based on offering tools to children so that they can learn strategies that allow them to effectively control their behavior and help the family to create an atmosphere that facilitates it. Treatment is usually multidisciplinary and combines medication and behavioral interventions.

The symptoms of ADHD, although sometimes diminishing with age, are never cured. Therefore, it is important to make an early diagnosis because early treatment can make a big difference in managing one’s own behavior and strategies to control it.


Although raising a child with ADHD can be challenging at times, it is important to remember that children with ADHD have difficulty controlling their behavior, i.e., it does not mean they are bad, they are not doing it “on purpose” or “trying to be seen”.

If your child’s behaviors meet the above descriptions or if you suspect that your child has this disorder, consult a pediatric physician. The multidisciplinary team of specialists at the Pediatrics Unit of the Hospital CreuBlanca Maresme will evaluate your child’s symptoms in order to reach an accurate diagnosis and provide a comprehensive and personalized treatment, adapted to the child’s needs.