ADHD Diagnosis Signs of ADHD in Teens By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Published on March 31, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP Medically reviewed by Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP Facebook LinkedIn Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified pediatric psychologist, parent coach, author, speaker, and owner of A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print AzmanL / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Signs of Inattention Signs of Hyperactivity and Impulsivity Childhood vs. Teenage ADHD Symptoms Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD in Teens Subtypes of ADHD Complications If you’ve noticed that your teenage child has difficulty paying attention, sitting still, or completing chores or schoolwork, you may wonder whether they’re just being a typical teenager or whether it’s something more serious, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a medical condition that affects the brain’s functioning and development. As a result, people who have ADHD may find it hard to focus, sit still, wait, listen well, or exercise self-control. Approximately 2.5% of adults and 8.4% of children have ADHD. The signs of ADHD are classified into two categories: Signs of inattention Signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity This article explores the signs of ADHD in teens, as well as the diagnostic criteria for the three types of ADHD. Signs of Inattention These are some of the symptoms of inattention you may notice in your teenage child: Tendency to start tasks, such as chores, activities, or homework, and leave them incomplete Trouble with tasks that require sustained attention, such as long classroom sessions, lengthy tests or homework assignments, or prolonged conversations Poor attention to detail and careless mistakes in schoolwork and homework assignments Tendency to get easily distracted by unrelated thoughts Avoidance of tasks that require prolonged focus and mental effort Lack of attention when being spoken to directly, difficulty following through on instructions, and needing lots of reminders to do things Poor organization and time management skills, which can result in missed deadlines, difficulty with sequential tasks, and disordered belongings Tendency to lose or misplace belongings, such as books, school supplies, spectacles, and mobile phones Difficulty remembering chores, tasks, errands, and appointments Signs of ADHD in Teens Signs of Hyperactivity and Impulsivity These are some of the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity a teenager with ADHD may display: Feeling restless oftenMoving around constantly, as if driven by a motorSquirming or fidgeting while seatedStanding, pacing, or moving around at times when they’re supposed to stay seated, in class for instanceBeing unable to work or participate in hobbies or activities quietlyTalking constantlyInterrupting others who are speaking, finishing their sentences, or answering questions before they are answeredBeing impatient and having difficulty standing in line or waiting their turnIntruding or butting in on others’ conversations, activities, or games Why Is My Child So Hyper? ADHD vs. High Energy Childhood vs. Teenage ADHD Symptoms ADHD is a developmental disorder, which means children have it from a very young age. If you suspect your teenage child has ADHD, you may look back and realize that they’ve had many of these symptoms since they were a child. However, the symptoms of ADHD may change over time as the child gets older. For instance, the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity are often more prominent in young children, but they may become less severe as the child grows up. So, for instance, your teenage child may no longer be constantly running around and climbing things, but may still experience extreme restlessness. On the other hand, the symptoms of inattention become more evident in teenagers, as they face more rigorous schoolwork. These symptoms can affect their academic performance, relationships, and ability to function on a day-to-day basis. You may also notice that your child is engaging in risky, impulsive behaviors such as unsafe sexual activity and substance abuse. For some teenagers, the symptoms of ADHD become less severe with time. However, for many, they persist into adulthood. Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD in Teens If you suspect your teenage child has ADHD, you should take them to see their pediatrician, family doctor, or a mental healthcare provider such as a therapist or psychiatrist. The healthcare provider will talk to you and your child about their behavior, thoughts, and health. They may ask you permission to talk to people who interact with the child frequently, such as family members or teachers, or give you checklists to be filled out. They may ask you about the child’s medical history and administer tests that check your child’s cognitive abilities. In addition, the healthcare provider may perform a health checkup to rule out other health conditions. The healthcare provider will determine whether your child’s symptoms meet the criteria listed for ADHD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the manual helps healthcare providers identify mental health conditions such as ADHD. These are the diagnostic criteria listed for ADHD in the DSM-5: The teenager is below the age of 17 and has six or more symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. Or, the teenager is 17 or above and has five or more symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. The symptoms are persistent and have been present for over six months. They have had the symptoms since before the age of 12. They experience the symptoms in two or more settings, such as their home, school, while doing activities, or in social settings while interacting with friends or relatives. Their symptoms interfere with their ability to function on a daily basis and affect their academic performance, relationships, and quality of life. The symptoms are not caused by another mental health condition such as an anxiety disorder, mood disorder, personality disorder, or psychotic disorder. 20 Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Girls Subtypes of ADHD Depending on your child’s symptoms, they may be diagnosed with one of the three types of ADHD: Predominantly inattentive ADHD: They have had enough symptoms of inattention to meet the diagnostic criteria, but not enough symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity over the last six months. Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD: They have had enough symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity to meet the diagnostic criteria, but not enough symptoms of inattention over the last six months. Combined type ADHD: Combined type ADHD is when the child has had enough symptoms of inattention as well as hyperactivity and impulsivity over the last six months. If you’ve noticed that your teenager’s symptoms have changed over time, the type of ADHD they have may have changed over time too. Complications Teenagers with ADHD sometimes also have other mental health conditions such as: Anxiety disorders Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) Conduct disorder Depression Epilepsy Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) Tourette's syndrome Your child’s healthcare provider may be able to treat these conditions, if any, along with their ADHD. A Word From Verywell ADHD can affect your child’s schoolwork, as well as their interactions with family and friends. Being aware of the signs of ADHD in teens can help you recognize whether your teenage child might have ADHD, so you can take steps to get them the treatment they need. Treatment can help reduce the symptoms and improve their quality of life. What Are the Benefits of Having ADHD? 5 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Psychiatric Association. What is ADHD? Brahmbhatt K, Hilty DM, Hah M, Han J, Angkustsiri K, Schweitzer J. Diagnosis and treatment of adhd during adolescence in the primary care setting: review and future directions. J Adolesc Health. 2016;59(2):135-143. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.03.025 Shaw P, Sudre G. Adolescent attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: understanding teenage symptom trajectories. Biol Psychiatry. 2021;89(2):152-161. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2020.06.004 American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. National Health Service. ADHD symptoms. Additional Reading Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms and diagnosis of ADHD. National Institute of Mental Health. ADHD in children and teens. Nemours Foundation. ADHD (for parents). Nemours Foundation. ADHD (for teens). By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for ADHD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.