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Learn ADHD Basics

Here is a list of essential ADHD information you might find helpful. Talk to your doctor for more information:

  • ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Some people call it ADD, but ADHD is the correct name for it. 
  • There are 3 main types of ADHD: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and combined type. 
  • Any child can have moments of being inattentive, impulsive, or hyperactive. Children with ADHD, however, experience these symptoms repeatedly and in a way that is severe enough to have an impact at home, at school, or in social situations. In addition, these behaviors may not seem appropriate for the child's age.
  • Symptoms must be present for at least 6 months in two or more settings (eg, home, school, with friends), and clearly interfere with social or academic functioning. In addition, symptoms must also have been present before the age of 12 and not be better explained by another mental disorder. See additional diagnosis information below.
  • ADHD is a treatable medical condition. It may be caused in part by an imbalance in chemical messengers that affect behavior, though the exact cause is unknown. Because it is a real medical condition, it is important to understand it is not your or your child's fault!
  • These are not the only criteria used to diagnose ADHD. Diagnosis should be based on a complete history and only a doctor or other trained health care professional can accurately diagnose ADHD. 
  • Only a doctor or other health care professional can accurately diagnose ADHD.
ADHD is a treatable medical condition

ADHD is a treatable medical condition

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ADHD Statistics

Here are some important stats you should know about ADHD:

It is estimated that nearly 17 million Americans are affected by ADHD. Need some context? The state population of New York is just over 19 million. ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders in children. 11% of US school-aged children, or 6.4 million have been diagnosed with ADHD in their lifetime.* (*Based on the 2011/2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, in which parents were asked if a health care practitioner had ever told them their child has ADD or ADHD.) 4.4% of US adults, or 10.5 million have ADHD.* (*Based on a survey of 3,199 adults ages 18 to 44 conducted from 2001-2003 and applied to the full US population ages 18 or over.) According to follow-up studies of children with ADHD, 60% to 85% of kids (6-12) may continue to have ADHD as teens (13-17). But symptoms may look different as your child gets older. Nearly 50% of children (6-17) diagnosed with ADHD may continue to have ADHD as adults. This statistic is based on parent reports. Drug treatment may not be appropriate for all people with ADHD. It is estimated that nearly 17 million Americans are affected by ADHD. Need some context? The state population of New York is just over 19 million. ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders in children. 11% of US school-aged children, or 6.4 million have been diagnosed with ADHD in their lifetime.* (*Based on the 2011/2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, in which parents were asked if a health care practitioner had ever told them their child has ADD or ADHD.) 4.4% of US adults, or 10.5 million have ADHD.* (*Based on a survey of 3,199 adults ages 18 to 44 conducted from 2001-2003 and applied to the full US population ages 18 or over.) According to follow-up studies of children with ADHD, 60% to 85% of kids (6-12) may continue to have ADHD as teens (13-17). But symptoms may look different as your child gets older. Nearly 50% of children (6-17) diagnosed with ADHD may continue to have ADHD as adults. This statistic is based on parent reports. Drug treatment may not be appropriate for all people with ADHD.
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How ADHD Is Diagnosed

Only a doctor or a health care professional can diagnose ADHD.

Many people may occasionally experience inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, but may not necessarily have ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed based on specific criteria. The official criteria for diagnosis of ADHD in children say that 6 or more inattentive symptoms and/or 6 or more hyperactive/impulsive symptoms (5 or more in people 17 or older) must occur for at least 6 months. In addition:

  • Several inattentive or hyperactive/impulsive symptoms must have been present prior to age 12.
  • Several symptoms must be present in 2 or more settings, for example, at home, at school, or in social settings. 
  • There must be clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with social, academic, or work functioning.
  • The symptoms are not due to another mental disorder.
  • These are not the only criteria used to diagnose ADHD.  Diagnosis should be based on a complete history and evaluation by the health care provider.

Learn more about ADHD symptoms and ADHD diagnostic criteria.

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