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The Three Major Types of ADHD

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ADHD is attention-deficit disorder, a behavior disorder that is usually diagnosed during childhood. ADHD is characterized by behaviors such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. While these behaviors usually occur all together, one might happen without any of the others being present. 

If a child has hyperactivity, this is usually apparent by the time they’re seven years old. Attention-deficit or inattention, however, may not be apparent until elementary school. There are different types of ADHD and it is important to be aware of each type and what makes them different. 

The Three Major Types of ADHD 

The three main kinds of attention-deficit disorder are: 

  • Combined type. This is the type of ADHD that’s most commonly diagnosed. It’s characterized by behaviors that are impulsive and hyperactive, as well as distractibility and inattention. 
  • Inattentive and distractible type. This type of ADHD is characterized by behaviors of distractibility and inattention, without any hyperactivity expressed. 
  • Impulsive/hyperactive type. This is the type of ADHD that’s least commonly diagnosed and is characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity. 

A common misperception is that a person who has  ADHD is hyperactive, but that is not commonly the case. There are different behaviors that someone who has ADHD may exhibit, and it’s important to know what these behaviors may be and that there is a range. 

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Inattentive behaviors may include:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details or listening 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Poor study and organizational skills for their age 
  • Being easily distracted 
  • Short attention span for their age  

Impulsive behaviors may include: 

  • Interrupting others constantly 
  • Inability to wait to be called on or for their turn 
  • Blurts out their answers 
  • Frequently takes risks and acts without thinking 

Hyperactive behaviors may include: 

  • Are constantly in motion with no apparent goal (running, climbing) 
  • Has difficulty remaining seated or squirms 
  • Fidgets excessively 
  • Talks excessively 
  • Forgets or loses thing often and repeatedly 
  • Has difficulty staying on tasks and goes from one task to another without completing anything 

Another common misperception is that ADHD is only diagnosed in children. However, while ADHD is typically diagnosed at an early age, it is possible for adults to experience symptoms of ADHD. It’s important for adults to understand the different types of ADHD, as they may be experiencing it and have not yet been diagnosed. 

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How Do I Know Which Type of ADHD Someone May Have? 

Although you may recognize symptoms of ADHD in yourself or someone you love, you should seek a professional opinion to officially diagnose the existence of ADHD. A qualified mental health professional, child psychiatrist, or pediatrician are all able to identify ADHD, especially in children. If you believe an adult may have ADHD, seek advice from a qualified mental health professional. 

To diagnose ADHD, a detailed history of behavior, testing, and observations of behavior are all needed. Since ADHD involves several symptoms and people may exhibit one symptom or a combination, results from different neurological, psychological, and physical tests need to be professionally evaluated. Sometimes, what is thought to be ADHD is actually another condition, and these conditions need to be ruled out. Once you understand which major type of ADHD is diagnosed, this leads to more successful and personalized treatment.