Warning Signs of ADHD

A student may have ADHD if they frequently display many of these symptoms, their behavior is age and situation-inappropriate and it is interfering with the child’s ability to be successful in school.  

Physical Activity


  • Can’t sit still, feels restless
  • Has boundless energy
  • Always fidgeting, restless feet, etc.


  • Couch potato, lethargic, slow, spacey
  • Physically there, mentally not present

Frequent Mood Swings

  • Feels emotions intensely
  • Higher highs and lower lows
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • May have a short fuse


  • Trouble deciding what to pay attention to/ what’s most important
  • Trouble getting started on a task- often feels overwhelmed
  • Trouble staying focused on repetitive tasks until the task is complete
  • Can’t do homework independently (parents need to oversee it if it is going to get done)
  • Trouble shifting attention to a new task (needs more preparation for schedule changes or ending an activity)

Highly Distractible

  • Distracted by any change in environment- any noise, movement, or smell
  • Can be distracted by their own thoughts- daydreamer
  • Can’t stay focused for long except for screen-based games and TV or a new or scary activity. 
  • Focuses on activities that are highly interesting but unable to focus on activities that are difficult or boring.
  • May hyper-focus on a hobby
  • Starts many projects but rarely finishes them


  • Can’t wait to be called on-blurts out answers in class
  • Extremely impatient-difficult to wait for their turn
  • Often acts before thinking and doesn’t seem to learn from mistakes

Difficulty with follow-through

  • Forgets multi-step oral directions (parents may need to give directions one step at a time.)
  • Has trouble staying on task
  • Challenge with procrastination

No Tolerance for Boredom

  • May start arguments if things are too calm

Time Management

  • Always rushing; can’t slow down
  • Makes careless mistakes-hates to double-check
  • Doesn’t use class time well-feels rushed by teachers and parents
  • Puts most things off until the last minute

Odd Sleep Cycles

  • Night owl, hates to go to bed
  • Difficult to wake up in the morning
  • May be a restless sleeper
  • Bedwetting or sleepwalking

Inconsistent Performance

  • Good days and bad days- some days they can do the schoolwork, other days they can’t


  • Messy room, desk, backpack
  • Constantly loses or misplaces things

Other symptoms

  • Chatterbox; talks excessively- interrupts conversations frequently
  • Strong sense of justice; bossy
  • Terrible penmanship
  • Trouble remembering/following through with daily routines
  • Relatives with ADHD