The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into 2 types of behavioural problems:

  • inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing)
  • hyperactivity and impulsiveness

Many people with ADHD have problems that fall into both these categories, but this is not always the case.

For example, around 2 to 3 in 10 people with the condition have problems with concentrating and focusing, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness.

This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD). ADD can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.

ADHD is more often diagnosed in boys than girls. Girls are more likely to have symptoms of inattentiveness only, and are less likely to show disruptive behaviour that makes ADHD symptoms more obvious. This means girls who have ADHD may not always be diagnosed.

The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well defined, and they’re usually noticeable before the age of 6. They occur in more than 1 situation, such as at home and at school.

Children may have symptoms of both inattentiveness and hyperactivity and impulsiveness, or they may have symptoms of just 1 of these types of behaviour.

The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organising tasks

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger

These symptoms can cause significant problems in a child’s life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.

There are 3 main routes for referral.

Route one
This is through the school and there are 2 pieces of criteria which need to be in place in order to submit a referral:
  1. There needs to be an Early Help Assessment open for the family, so there is a professional body other than school involved.
  2. Parents need to have completed the Triple P Teens parenting course, so that environmental and behavioural difficulties can be ruled out, indicating that it is a neurological difficulty.

Without both of these things in place, school are unable to submit a referral to the assessment team.

If you would like to pursue a referral via school and are in agreement with the steps above, please email with information to the following questions:

– how your child’s needs affect them, as well as the rest of the family.

– how your child interacts and communicates with others

– information on friendships

– their ability to concentrate

– any sensory issues (noise, smell, touch, light)

– their general behaviour at home

– their mental health

– their general health

– any other relevant comments

Route Two

This is to ask your GP to refer your child to the assessment service. GP often feel that school are better placed to make this referral as we know them better, however they do not need to have an EHA in place or for parents to have completed the parenting course.

Route Three

This is to seek an assessment privately. This can be quicker but is expensive. Please note that this assessment will not allow you to access ADHD medication through the NHS from all providers.

Once the referral is submitted, then it will be triaged for an assessment. Please note that there is a long waiting list for an initial appointment, which can be up to 2 years.

Once they have met with your child and assessed them, you will be given a report which will contain the results of any assessment, along with a summary of the findings and if relevant the diagnosis. There will also be recommendations which can be put in place to support your child.

Once you receive this report, it should be shared with school so that the recommendations can be put in place.

Please note that the information below links directly to the guidance on the NHS website, please follow this link for more information:

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