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DSM-III

In DSM-III, this disorder is called Attention Deficit Disorder

Diagnostic Criteria

Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity

The child displays, for his or her mental and chronological age, signs of developmentally inappropriate inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. The signs must be reported by adults in the child's environment, such as parents and teachers. Because the symptoms are typically variable, they may not be observed directly by the clinician. When the reports of teachers and parents conflict, primary consideration should be given to the teacher reports because of greater familiarity with age-appropriate norms. Symptoms typically worsen in situations that require self-application, as in the classroom. Signs of the disorder may be absent when the child is in a new or a one-to-one situation.

The number of symptoms specified is for children between the ages of eight and ten, the peak age range for referral. In younger children, more severe forms of the symptoms and a greater number of symptoms are usually present. The opposite is true of older children.

A. Inattention. At least three of the following:

  1. often fails to finish things he or she starts
  2. often doesn't seem to listen
  3. easily distracted
  4. has difficulty concentrating on schoolwork or other tasks requiring sustained attention
  5. has difficulty sticking to a play activity

B. Impulsivity. At least three of the following:

  1. often acts before thinking
  2. shifts excessively from one activity to another
  3. has difficulty organizing work (this not being due to cognitive impairment)
  4. needs a lot of supervision
  5. frequently calls out in class
  6. has difficulty awaiting turn in games or group situations

C. Hyperactivity. At least two of the following:

  1. runs about or climbs on things excessively
  2. has difficulty sitting still or fidgets excessively
  3. has difficulty staying seated
  4. moves about excessively during sleep
  5. is always "on the go" or acts as if "driven by a motor"

D. Onset before the age of seven.

E. Duration of at least six months.

F. Not due to Schizophrenia, Affective Disorder, or Severe or Profound Mental Retardation.

Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity

The criteria for this disorder are the same as those for Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity except that the individual never had signs of hyperactivity (criterion C).

Attention Deficit Disorder, Residual Type

A. The individual once met the criteria for Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperacivity. This information may come from the individual or from others, such as family members.

B. Signs of hyperactivity are no longer present, but other signs of the illness have persisted to the present without periods of remission, as evidenced by signs of both attentional deficits and impulsivity (e.g., difficulty organizing work and completing tasks, difficulty concentrating, being easily distracted, making sudden decisions without thought of the consequences).

C. The symptoms in inattention and impulsivity result in some impairment in social or occupational functioning.

D. Not due to Schizophrenia, Affective Disorder, Severe or Profound Mental Retardation, or Schizotypal or Borderline Personality Disorders.

Differential Diagnosis

Age-appropriate overactivity and inadequate, disorganized, or chaotic environments

Age-appropriate overactivity, as is seen in some particularly active children, does not have the haphazard and poorly organized quality quality characteristic of the behavior in children with Attention Deficit Disorder. Children in inadequate, disorganized, or chaotic environments may appear to have difficulty in sustaining attention and in goal-directed behavior. In such cases it may be impossible to determine whether the disorganized behavior is simply a function of the chaotic environment or whether it is due to the child's psychopathology (in which case the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder may be warrented).

Mental Retardation

In Severe and Profound Mental Retardation there may be clinical features that are characteristic of Attention Deficit Disorder. However, the additional diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder would make clinical sense only if the Mental Retardation were Mild or Moderate in severity.

Conduct Disorder

Many cases of Conduct Disorder have signs of impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. The additional diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder is frequently warranted.

Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders

In Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders with manic features there may be clinical features that are characteristic of Attention Deficit Disorder. However, these diagnoses preempt the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder.

DSM-IV

Diagnostic Criteria

A. Either (1) or (2):

  1. six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:
    • Inattention
    • a. often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
    • b. often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
    • c. often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
    • d. often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
    • e. often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    • f. often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
    • g. often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
    • h. is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
    • i. is often forgetful in daily activities
  2. six (or more) of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:
    • Hyperactivity
    • a. often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
    • b. often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
    • c. often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
    • d. often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
    • e. is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor"
    • f. often talks excessively
    • Impulsivity
    • g. often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
    • h. often has difficulty awaiting turn
    • i. often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

B. Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 7 years.

C. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school [or work] and at home).

D. There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

E. The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

Specify type:

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type: if both Criteria A1 and A2 are met for the past 6 months
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type: if Criterion A1 is met but Criterion A2 is not met for the past 6 moths
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criterion A2 is met but Criterion A1 is not met for the past 6 months

Note: For individuals (especially adolescents and adults) who currently have symptoms that no longer meet full criteria, "In Partial Remission" should be specified.

Subtypes

Although most individuals have symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, there are some individuals in whom one or the other pattern is predominant. The appropriate subtype (for a current diagnosis) should be indicated based on the predominant symptom pattern for the past 6 months.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type

This subtype should be used if six (or more) symptoms of inattention and six (or more) symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least 6 months. Most children and adolescents with the disorder have the Combined Type. It is not known whether the same is true of adults with the disorder.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type

This subtype should be used if six (or more) symptoms of inattention (but fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity) have persisted for at least 6 months.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

This subtype should be used if six (or more) symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity (but fewer than six symptoms of inattention) have persisted for at least 6 months. Inattention may often still be a significant clinical feature in such cases.

Recording Procedures

Individuals who at an earlier stage of the disorder had the Predominantly Inattentive Type or the Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type may go on to develop the Combined Type and vice versa. The appropriate subtype (for a current diagnosis) should be indicated based on the predominant symptoms pattern for the past 6 months. If clinically significant symptoms remain but criteria are no longer met for any of the subtypes, the appropriate diagnosis is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, In Partial Remission. When an individual's symptoms do not currently meet full criteria for the disorder and it is unclear whether criteria for the disorder have previously been met, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified should be diagnosed.

Differential Diagnosis

Age-appropriate behaviors

In early childhood, it may be difficult to distinguish symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder from age-appropriate behaviors in active children (e.g., running around or being noisy).

Mental Retardation

Symptoms of inattention are common among children with low IQ who are placed in academic settings that are inappropriate to their intellectual ability. These behaviors must be distinguished from similar signs in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. In children with Mental Retardation, an additional diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder should be made only if the symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity are excessive for the child's mental age.

Understimulating and inadequate environments

Inattention in the classroom may also occur when children with high intelligence are placed in academically understimulating environments. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder must also be distinguished from difficulty in goal-directed behavior in children from inadequate, disorganized, or chaotic environments. Reports from multiple informants (e.g., babysitters, grandparents, or parents of playmates) are helpful in providing a confluence of observations concerning the child's inattention, hyperactivity, and capacity for developmentally appropriate self-regulation in various settings.

Oppositional behavior

Individuals with oppositional behavior may resist work or school tasks that require self-application because of an unwillingness to conform to others' demands. These symptoms must be differentiated from the avoidance of school tasks seen in individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Complicating the differential diagnosis is the fact that some individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder develop secondary oppositional attitudes toward such tasks and devalue their importance, often as a rationalization for their failure.

Another mental disorder

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is not diagnosed if the symptoms are better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, Personality Disorder, Personality Change Due to a General Medical Condition, or a Substance-Related Disorder). In all these disorders, the symptoms of inattention typically have an onset after age 7 years, and the childhood history of school adjustment generally is not characterized by disruptive behavior or teacher complaints concerning inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive behavior. When a Mood Disorder or Anxiety Disorder co-occurs with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, each should be diagnosed.

Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Psychotic Disorders

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is not diagnosed if the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder or a Psychotic Disorder.

Other Substance-Related Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity related to the use of medication (e.g., bronchodilators, isoniazid, akathisia from neuroleptics) in children before age 7 years are not diagnosed as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder but instead are diagnosed as other Substance-Related Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

DSM-5

Diagnostic Criteria

A. A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, as characterized by (1) and/or (2):

  1. Inattention: Six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities: (Note: The symptoms are not solely a manifestation of oppositional behavior, defiance, hostility, or failure to understand tasks or instructions. For older adolescents and adults (age 17 and older), at least five symptoms are required.)
    • a. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, work is inaccurate).
    • b. Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy reading).
    • c. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).
    • d. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked).
    • e. Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities (e.g., difficulty managing sequential tasks; difficulty keeping materials and belongings in order; messy, disorganized work; has poor time management; fails to meet deadlines).
    • f. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g., schoolwork or homework; for older adolescents and adults, preparing reports, completing forms, reviewing lengthy papers).
    • g. Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
    • h. Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, may include unrelated thoughts).
    • i. Is often forgetful in daily activities (e.g., doing chores, running errands; for older adolescents and adults, returning calls, paying bills, keeping appointments).
  2. Hyperactivity and impulsivity: Six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities: (Note: The symptoms are not solely a manifestation of oppositional behavior, defiance, hostility, or a failure to understand tasks or instructions. For older adolescents and adults (age 17 and older), at least five symptoms are required.)
    • a. Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat.
    • b. Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (e.g., leaves his or her place in the classroom, in the office or other workplace, or in other situations that require remaining in place).
    • c. Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate. (Note: In adolescents or adults, may be limited to feeling restless.)
    • d. Often unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.
    • e. Is often "on the go," acting as if "driven by a motor" (e.g., is unable to be or uncomfortable being still for extended time, as in restaurants, meetings; may be experienced by others as being restless or difficult to keep up with).
    • f. Often talks excessively.
    • g. Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed (e.g., completes people's sentences; cannot wait for turn in conversation).
    • h. Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn (e.g., while waiting in line).
    • i. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations, games, or activities; may start using other people's things without asking or receiving permission; for adolescents and adults, may intrude into or take over what others are doing).

B. Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present prior to age 12 years.

C. Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms are present in two or more settings (e.g., at home, school, or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).

D. There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, academic, or occupational functioning.

E. The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder and are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g., mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, personality disorder, substance intoxication or withdrawal).

Specify whether:

  • Combined presentation: If bother Criterion A1 (inattention) and Criterion A2 (hyperactivity-impulsivity) are met for the past 6 months.
  • Predominantly inattentive presentation: If Criterion A1 (inattention) is met but Criterion A2 (hyperactivity-impulsivity) is not met for the past 6 months.
  • Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation: If Criterion A2 (hyperactivity-impulsivity) is met and Criterion A1 (inattention) is not met for the past 6 months.

Specify if:

  • In partial remission: When full criteria were previously met, fewer than the full criteria have been met for the past 6 months, and the symptoms still result in impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

Specify current severity:

  • Mild: Few, if any, symptoms in excess of those required to make the diagnosis are present, and symptoms result in no more than minor impairments in social or occupational functioning.
  • Moderate: Symptoms or functional impairment between "mild" and "severe" are present.
  • Severe: Many symptoms in excess of those required to make the diagnosis, or several symptoms that are particularly severe, are present, or the symptoms result in marked impairment in social or occupational functioning.

Differential Diagnosis

Oppositional defiant disorder

Individuals with oppositional defiant disorder may resist work or school tasks that require self-application because they resist confirming to others' demands. Their behavior is characterized by negativity, hostility, and defiance. These symptoms must be differentiated from aversion to school or mentally demanding tasks due to difficulty in sustaining mental effort, forgetting instructions, and impulsivity in individuals with ADHD. Complicating the differential diagnosis is the fact that some individuals with ADHD may develop some secondary oppositional attitudes toward such tasks and devalue their importance.

Intermittent explosive disorder

ADHD and intermittent explosive disorder share high levels of impulsive behavior. However, individuals with intermittent explosive disorder show serious aggression toward others, which is not characteristic of ADHD, and they do not experience problems with sustaining attention as seen in ADHD. In addition, intermittent explosive disorder is rare in childhood. Intermittent explosive disorder may be diagnosed in the presence of ADHD.

Other neurodevelopmental disorders

The increased motoric activity that may occur in ADHD must be distinguished from the repetitive motor behavior that characterizes stereotypic movement disorder and some cases of autism spectrum disorder. In stereotypic movement disorder, the motoric behavior is generally fixed and repetitive (e.g., body rocking, self-biting), whereas the fidgetiness and restlessness in ADHD are typically generalized and not characterized by repetitive stereotypic movements. In Tourette's disorder, frequent multiple tics can be mistaken for the generalized fidgetiness of ADHD. Prolonged observation may be needed to differentiate fidgetiness from bouts of multiple tics.

Specific learning disorder

Children with specific learning disorder may appear inattentive because of frustration, lack of interest, or limited ability. However, inattention in individuals with a specific learning disorder who do not have ADHD is not impairing outside of academic work.

Intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder)

Symptoms of ADHD are common among children placed in academic settings that are inappropriate to their intellectual ability. In such cases, the symptoms are not evident during non-academic tasks. A diagnosis of ADHD in intellectual disability requires that inattention or hyperactivity be excessive for mental age.

Autism spectrum disorder

Individuals with ADHD and those with autism spectrum disorder exhibit inattention, social dysfunction, and difficult-to-manage behavior. The social dysfunction and peer rejection seen in individuals with ADHD must be distinguished from the social disengagement, isolation, and indifference to facial and tonal communication cues seen in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Children with autism spectrum disorder may display tantrums because of an inability to tolerate a change from their expected course of events. In contrast, children with ADHD may misbehave or have a tantrum during a major transition because of impulsivity or poor self-control.

Reactive attachment disorder

Children with reactive attachment disorder may show social disinhibition, but not eh full ADHD symptoms cluster, and display other features such as a lack of enduring relationships that are not characteristic of ADHD.

Anxiety disorders

ADHD shares symptoms of inattention with anxiety disorders. Individuals with ADHD are inattentive because of their attraction to external stimuli, new activities, or preoccupation with enjoyable activities. This is distinguished from the inattention due to worry and rumination seen in anxiety disorders. Restlessness might be seen in anxiety disorders. However, in ADHD, the symptom is not associated with worry and rumination.

Depressive disorders

Individuals with depressive disorders may present with inability to concentrate. However, poor concentration in mood disorders becomes prominent only during a depressive episode.

Bipolar disorder

Individuals with bipolar disorder may have increased activity, poor concentration, and increased impulsivity, but these features are episodic, occurring several days at a time. In bipolar disorder, increased impulsivity or inattention is accompanied by elevated mood, grandiosity, and other specific bipolar features. Children with ADHD may show significant changes in mood within the same day; such lability is distinct from a manic episode, which must last 4 or more days to be a clinical indicator of bipolar disorder, even in children. Bipolar disorder is rare in preadolescents, even when severe irritability and anger are prominent, whereas ADHD is common among children and adolescents who display excessive anger and irritability.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is characterized by pervasive irritability, and intolerance of frustration, but impulsiveness and disorganized attention are not essential features. However, most children and adolescents with the disorder have symptoms that also meet criteria for ADHD, which is diagnosed separately.

Substance use disorders

Differentiating ADHD from substance use disorders may be problematic if the first presentation of ADHD symptoms follows the onset of abuse or frequent use. Clear evidence of ADHD before substance misuse from informants or previous records may be essential for differential diagnosis.

Personality disorders

In adolescents and adults, it may be difficult to distinguish ADHD from borderline, narcissistic, and other personality disorders. All these disorders tend to share the features of disorganization, social intrusiveness, emotional dysregulation, and cognitive dysregulation. However, ADHD is not characterized by fear of abandonment, self-injury, extreme ambivalence, or other features of personality disorder. It may take extended clinical observation, informant interview, or detailed history to distinguish impulsive, socially intrusive, or inappropriate behavior from narcissistic, aggressive, or domineering behavior to make this differential diagnosis.

Psychotic disorders

ADHD is not diagnosed if the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity occur exclusively during the course of a psychotic disorder.

Medication-induced symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity attributable to the use of medication (e.g., bronchodilators, isoniazid, neuroleptics [resulting in akathisia], thyroid replacement medication), are diagnosed as other specified or unspecified other (or unknown) substance-related disorders.

Neurocognitive disorders

Early major neurocognitive disorder (dementia) and/or mild neurocognitive disorder are not known to be associated with ADHD but may present with similar clinical features. These conditions are distinguished from ADHD by their late onset.