ADHD doesn’t look the same in all people. In fact, there are three ways a person with ADHD might “present.” These ways are sometimes referred to as the three subtypes of ADHD, or three types of ADHD.
The type of ADHD a person has depends on the signs they have. ADHD symptoms fall into two categories. One is inattention. The other is hyperactivity/impulsivity. Symptoms can change as people get older, however, so the type of ADHD they have can also change over time.
Learn more about the three different types of ADHD.
1. ADHD, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation
People who have this type of ADHD have symptoms of hyperactivity and feel the need to move constantly. They also struggle with impulse control. Typically they don’t have much trouble with inattention.
It’s often easier to spot signs of this type of ADHD. Those who have it may struggle to sit still or manage their behavior. This type of ADHD is most often seen in very young children.
2. ADHD, predominantly inattentive presentation
People who have this type of ADHD have difficulty paying attention. They’re easily distracted but don’t have much trouble with impulsivity or hyperactivity. This is sometimes unofficially referred to as attention-deficit disorder (or ADD).
People with this type of ADHD may “fly under the radar” because they may not be disruptive in class or at work. In fact, they may appear shy or “daydreamy.” They may not have significant behavior problems. But their problems with attention may still cause them a lot of difficulty day-to-day.
3. ADHD, combined presentation
People with this type of ADHD show significant problems with both hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention. Kids with this type may gradually have less trouble with hyperactivity/impulsivity as they get into their teen years, however.
About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Thomas E. Brown, PhD has written many books on ADHD, including “Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD.” He’s the director of the Brown Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders.