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ADHD – a beginners guide

What is ADHD?

The clinical definition of  ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition. People with ADHD often exhibit a pattern of inattention, either with hyperactivity or without, which can affect their day-to-day functioning and often their development.

Here are some things from the NHS website that a child may exhibit prior to any diagnosis, usually by the age of 6, split into inattention and hyperactivity.  A Child or Young person may display all or some of these symptoms (CYP)

Inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing)

The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organising tasks

Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger

What isn’t mentioned is ADHD can appear different in boys and girls, or the strengths CYP may display, it’s all a bit clinical. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed than girls with ADHD, but why? The differences in presentation are the reason, it is much easier to diagnose symptoms that are more likely to be seen and reported. It is a very simplified diagram, and of course presentation of symptoms varies from person to person, but it does offer a starting point!

A person with ADHD also has many strengths, here are a few we have come up with

If you feel your CYP may be displaying any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is talk to your CYP school or other educational provisions, it is likely they have seen the same things as you, however, you can visit your GP and be referred to a community paediatrician or the children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). If the referral is accepted, a Connors assessment will be completed in most cases, which involves a questionnaire, for school and home. Here is a helpful webpage to get you started with this in Bristol


What can I do to help my CYP?

ADHD can impair a child’s executive function and self-regulation skills, which are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. There are some strategies you as a parent or carer can implement to help, such as

  • Give clear, precise directions for tasks. Do not make it too complicated!
  • Give lots of time for physical activity, like trampolines or even going for a walk
  • Offer positive reinforcement such as praise for completing tasks
  • Offer fidgets (and teach them how to use them!
  • Build their confidence
  • Create a schedule to help manage time

There are some websites that can give more information, this is just a brief snapshot. Here are a few we have found very helpful.



Happy Maps

Young Minds



The Brain Charity


ADHD Foundation


We hope you have found this helpful, please contact us if you need support or would like to attend one of our activity groups for children and families.