Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

These pupils will have difficulties that fall into three main groups - inattention, concentration and impulsivity. Many of them have associated difficulties such as learning and co-ordination. Individual pupils will experience the difficulties in differing degrees and will not necessarily experience them all.

Where there are concerns that a pupil may have ADHD, schools should look at the ADHD referral route as outlined in the County Policy (ADHD Guidelines for the identification, referral to specialist services and management of school-aged children in NPT with suspected Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

ADHD is characterised by three main behaviour groupings:

  1. Hyperactivity
    The child may be restless, talk a lot, have difficulty sitting still, runs or climbs a lot, fidgets, always appears to be on the go.
  2. Inattention
    The child may be disorganised, unable to follow through an activity, have difficulty paying attention. He/she may be forgetful, appear not to listen, easily distracted, makes careless mistakes, loses things, doesn't do school work.
  3. Impulsivity
    The child may lack self-control, have difficulty waiting in-turn. They may blurt out answers, interrupt, talk back, tell untruths, intrude on others and lose their temper.

A diagnosis can only be made by the medical profession.

  • The child will have shown signs of the difficulty before the age of 6 or 7.
  • It must have been of at least six months duration.
  • The difficulties should be demonstrable across situations - ie. at home and school.
  • The child's IQ must be over 50.

Checklist of Common Difficulties

  • Sticking to an activity (on task).
  • Following and completing instructions.
  • Easily distracted and forgetful.
  • Ability to listen when spoken to.
  • Sitting still - will be fidgety and restless.
  • Interrupting/can't stop talking.
  • Interferes with others' work.
  • Moves about at inappropriate times.
  • Blurts out answers.
  • Difficulties in waiting/taking turns.
  • Acting impulsively without thinking of the consequences.
  • Over-emotional, over-reacts.

Implications for School Work

  • They may have poor working memory and recall.
  • Slow retrieval of information.
  • Difficulty in sequencing events or predicting outcomes.
  • Poor organisational skills.
  • Poor fine motor co-ordination.
  • Impulsive learning style.
  • Impaired sense of time - eg. inability to estimate how long a task will take.
  • Low frustration tolerance.
  • Doesn't learn easily from rewards and punishments.
  • They can be over-emotional in their responses and have difficulty seeing other perspectives - eg. when reprimanded.
  • They can be very talkative.


Many of the strategies in the previous section will be applicable. See also the section on Self Esteem. Many pupils with ADHD have poor social skills and lack self confidence.

Pupils with ADHD have difficulty putting the brakes on their behaviour. If a confrontational approach is used, then it is likely that they will respond in a similar way.