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.

Specialist Behaviour Support Services and Speech Pathology

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On our blog there is a collection of blog articles about ADHD such as 'Why Children with ADHD Have Difficulties With Emotional Regulation' and 'Which Is It? Hyperactivity or ADHD?'.

Definition of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often prevails into adulthood. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-V) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), is a handbook that is used by professionals around the world to diagnose mental disorders.The DSM–V describes 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. From time to time, most of 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 attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) do not.


Types of ADHD

In the DSM-V (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), three presentation types of ADHD are identified:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 ADHD

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)


Symptoms of ADHD

Individuals 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.

For more help with attention span and ADHD see:

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 more help with Hyperactivity/impulsivity and ADHD see:

Without adequate support, children with ADHD experience academic, social, self-esteem, personal organisation and emotional difficulties.


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


Behaviour Help

If you are supporting an individual with this diagnosis, please refer to our services and resources. They aim to help children, adolescents and adults achieve better communication, social, emotional, behavioural and learning outcomes. So whether you are wanting guidance on parenting, teaching, supporting or providing therapy, Behaviour Help is at hand.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes, symptoms and types but some general information that can be further explored. Based on what you have read if you have any concerns about an individual, please raise them with the individual/s. The caregiver can then raise these concerns with their local doctor who can provide a referral to the relevant professional (e.g. paediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, allied health professional and learning specialists) for diagnosis and treatment if appropriate.

Which resources are right for you?


Based on the Taking CHARGE of Rainbow of Emotions Workbook this app helps children of all ages develop emotional regulation skills. The app guides the child to firstly, identify and express their emotion in appropriate ways. Then the child is guided to use emotional management tool/s from the CHARGE tool kit to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

The acronym CHARGE stands for the different categories of emotional management tools – Chat tools, Helpful thinking tools, Amusement tools, Relaxation tools, Good routine tools and Exercise tools.

Behaviour Help App - Using the evidence-based approach of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), the Behaviour Help web-based app allows people supporting individuals with emotional and behavioural difficulties to complete a Functional Behaviour Analysis and put together a comprehensive Behaviour Support Plan (BSP). The BSP can then be used by everyone interacting with the individual to manage and prevent challenging behaviours and ultimately improve their lives, and the lives of those who support them.


If you want to learn more about emotional and behavioural difficulties then we have a great range of books you can read on your Kindle or order from Amazon.


Personalised and practical one to one help tailored specifically to your family.

Online Courses

Access these online courses anytime online to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotional regulation skills. Also learn to utilise the positive behaviour support framework to address anxiety, aggression, ADHD, ASD and ODD.

SEL Educational Videos

Minimise or eliminate the occurrence of challenging behaviours by teaching children of all ages appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, managing their emotions and behaviours.

The SEL curriculum uses video modelling to provide direct, explicit and systematic teaching of the various skills by discussing the importance of the skill, modelling the skill so the child learns what the skill looks like? sounds like? feels like? and learn the skill in staged situations that simulate real life scenarios.


Personalised and practical behaviour therapy tailored specifically to your family.


Webinars discuss a range of practical strategies to guide your child learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.


Attend our practical and interactive workshops to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotions, behaviours, social and communication skills in your learning environment.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

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