Defining Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder


From time to time, most children will have trouble sitting still, paying attention, or controlling their impulses – as part of normal development. Whilst most children gradually grow out of such behaviours, individuals with ADHD do not.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5) [American Psychiatric Publishing (APA), 2013], is a handbook that is used by professionals around the world to diagnose mental disorders. The DSM–5 describes Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a type of neurodevelopmental disorder, which means there is atypical growth and development of the brain or central nervous system resulting in their abnormal functioning.

ADHD is defined by a pattern of behaviour involving inattention, disorganisation and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. An individual can have symptoms in one or both categories of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity to receive the diagnosis of ADHD. The diagnosis is generally made by the age of 12 and ADHD can continue into adulthood. Certain Behaviour Management Strategies built up here are the right way to directly impact on every situation.

Different ADHD types

In the DSM-5 (APA, 2013), three types of ADHD are identified:

  • ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type – The individual has trouble paying attention, poor concentration, ignoring distractions and getting organised. The individual can sit still and appear to be working as their symptoms are less obvious.
  • ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive / Impulsive Type – The individual has difficulty staying on task, constantly talking and fidgeting and never seems to slow down. The individual does not think through consequences before acting so may constantly be interrupting others and taking risks. Our Behaviour Management Courses Online can help you with practical strategies on how to support individuals with ADHD
  • ADHD, Combined Type – The individual exhibits both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.

The associated symptoms interfere with or reduce the quality of social, academic or occupational functioning. A range of classroom behaviour management strategies are required to address these symptoms.

Causes of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

There is no single cause for ADHD, rather a number of risk factors that contribute to its development. They include:

  • Hereditary (i.e. a genetically transmitted disorder and inherited from birth via genes)
  • Parental health (e.g. infections and diseases the mother might have had during pregnancy);
  • Parental behaviours (e.g. smoking, drinking and drug taking during pregnancy)
  • Exposure to high levels of environmental toxins (e.g. lead) in utero
  • Around birth related factors such as low birth weight, prematurity and obstetric complications.
  • After birth related factors such as exposure to infections, diseases, malnutrition, brain injury and a history of abuse and neglect.
  • Temperamental traits may also predispose the individual to ADHD (e.g. reduced behavioural inhibition, negative emotionality and elevated novelty seeking)

Associated Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

The individual with ADHD may exhibit some, or all of following:

Inattention symptoms

  • Fails to pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork.
  • Difficulties with sustaining attention during tasks or play.
  • Appears not to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Does not follow through on instructions and moves from task to task without finishing anything.
  • Difficulties with organising tasks and activities.
  • Avoids, or dislikes doing tasks that require sustained mental effort or concentration.
  • Often loses things needed for tasks or activities.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Forgetful.

Hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms

  • Constantly restless, fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  • Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.
  • Runs about or climbs excessively in situations where it’s inappropriate.
  • Has difficulty playing quietly.
  • Is often ‘on the go’, acts as if ‘driven by a motor’.
  • Talks excessively.
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed (or before raising hand).
  • Has difficulty waiting turn.
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others.

For all such difficulties, Strategies for Behaviour Management is highly recommended.

How to support those with ADHD with behaviour management courses

At Behaviour Zen, we offer a comprehensive selection of services such as consultancy, best Behaviour Management Books, Behaviour Management Courses Online, app and Behaviour Management Workshops for those wanting to learn how to support individuals with challenging behaviours, including ADHD and ASD, around Australia.

Attendees will be equipped with the knowledge and practical tools of how to show on-going support for individuals with the three types of ADHD.

To find suitable ADHD behaviour management online courses, please browse our courses and Managing Challenging Behaviour Workshops. If you have any questions or would like Positive Behaviour Support Training Online at your site, please contact our support team today.

To learn how to support individuals with ADHD please refer to: Bhargava, D. (2018). Positive Behaviour Support Strategies for Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Step by Step Guide to Assessing – Managing-Preventing Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. Perth, WA: Behaviour Zen Pty Ltd.

To learn how to support individuals with ADHD please refer to: Bhargava, D. (2018). Positive Behaviour Support Strategies for Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Step by Step Guide to Assessing – Managing-Preventing Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. Perth, WA: Behaviour Zen Pty Ltd.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.