ADHD: Learn All About the 3 Types

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Megan Septer, PsyD, LP, Clinical Site Director/Licensed Psychologist.  Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health diagnosis where symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity begin at a young age and can persist throughout adulthood. ADHD is one of the most common mental health disorders that affect children. The three main types of ADHD are predominantly inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary based on the individual, but recognizing the signs and symptoms is pivotal in getting help early on.  It can be hard to distinguish between ADHD and normal behavior from kids. For instance, if you only notice a few of these symptoms in a child or the signs present themselves in specific situations, it's most likely not ADHD. However, take note if you are observing several of these behaviors across all kinds of situations.

Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation 

Predominately hyperactive/impulsive presentation is the least common type of ADHD. It is exactly how it sounds; the person will be constantly on the move and display impulsive behavior. They might be doing several things at once, constantly bouncing, or act without thinking. However, the individual will not show signs of getting distracted. For this type, symptoms include: 
  • Often interrupting others 
  • Talking out of turn or blurting out 
  • Fidgeting/squirming 
  • Taking risks and not understanding the consequences of their actions 
  • Frequently getting up when seated 
  • Problems controlling powerful emotions, which can lead to anger issues 
Something to note - we expect young children to be bouncing off the walls or to blurt out whatever pops into their heads. But once a child reaches four or five, they typically learn social norms and can listen to instructions frequently. In the same vein, those displaying hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive behaviors will be more likely to stand out once they reach school age. Related: How Mental Health Affect Physical Health

Inattentive Presentation 

With an inattentive presentation of ADHD, a person will not display any of the signs of hyperactive/impulsive behavior. Rather, they will find it difficult to stay on task and become distracted easily. When many think about ADHD, hyperactivity comes to mind the most. But the quiet person that daydreams often can also have ADHD. Symptoms of inattentive ADHD include:  
  • Not listening 
  • Inattention to detail 
  • Difficulty following instructions 
  • Getting bored with a task and not completing it 
  • Issues with planning/organizational skills  
  • Being forgetful or distracted 
  • Frequently misplacing belongings 

Combined Presentation 

Combined presentation is the most common type of ADHD and is when symptoms of both types are present.  Related: Tips for Having a Successful Summer Break

Treatment & Management of ADHD 

ADHD can be managed, but it’s important to address it as early as possible. In other words, if you’re concerned - seek professional help. Megan Septer, PsyD, LP, Clinical Site Director/Licensed Psychologist at Nystrom & Associates, explains some treatment alternatives:  
Individuals with ADHD can participate in a variety of treatment options to manage their symptoms including therapy, skills training, parent training, medication management, and support through the school. Many people with ADHD benefit from using strategies such as setting reminders on their phone, writing out a to-do list, writing important information on a calendar or whiteboard, regular exercise, and taking tests in a quiet room that is free of distractions.  
In addition to the tips Megan shared, there are other ways to manage ADHD at home or work, such as:
  • Minimizing external commotion: Limit potential distractions by facing your desk differently and keeping your workplace clutter-free.
  • Getting plenty of rest: Lack of sleep can increase symptoms of ADHD. Make rest a priority. For instance, implement a bedtime routine and stick to it. 
  • Limiting junk food: A poor diet doesn’t cause ADHD. However, unhealthy eating habits can make symptoms worse. Try to avoid sugar and junk food whenever possible.  

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

Above all, knowledge is power. If you think you or your child may have ADHD, request an appointment to get an evaluation. Nystrom & Associates offers ADHD evaluations for individuals ages 6 and up. Our Psychological Testing program provides quality testing and individualized recommendations for children, adolescents, and adults. Once diagnosed, therapy can address any social, behavioral, and emotional issues that you or your child may be experiencing.  

For more information on ADHD, click here.

 Related: 3 Ways Meditation Helps Your Mental Health

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