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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Updated June 26, 2014

Two Boys in a Classroom with Paper Aeroplanes. Cape Town, Western Cape Province, South Africa
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Definition: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurological disorder affecting learning, behavior and social/emotional functioning. People with ADHD usually have difficulty following instructions and staying on task, completing work, controlling impulses, listening, keeping their hands to themselves, keeping work materials organized, and turning in assignments. Problems with social skills such as getting along with others and making friends are also common. High levels of motor activity such as fidgeting, difficulty staying seated in class, or wandering. They are typically impulsive and may have frequent accidents related to their impulsivity.

What Testing is Used to Diagnose ADHD?

ADHD is usually assessed using, at minimum, behavioral rating scales that compare students' behavior against others their age and gives a rating for comparison. It is best practice, however, to have a complete evaluation to determine other possible factors affecting the child's behavior. Further, it is not uncommon for children with ADHD to have learning disabilities as well.

How is ADHD Treated in Schools?

ADHD can sometimes be effectively managed by formal behavior intervention plans. In some cases, medication may be used under medical supervision.

ADHD can range from mild to severe.

Can Students with ADHD Qualify for Special Education?

In some instances, ADHD can have a severe effect on a child's ability to learn and can qualify as a disability.

Not all cases of ADHD, however, are severe enough for students to qualify for special education services under the IDEA or for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Back to Special Education and Learning Disability Terms

Also Known As: ADHD, behavioral disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Minimal Brain Dysfunction is an outdated term for ADHD.

Alternate Spellings: ADD-H, ADHA AD/HD

ADHD is a behavioral disorder that can be improved through behavior modification, medical intervention, or both.

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