The 3 types of ADHD

By The Understood Team

ADHD doesn’t look the same in all kids. In fact, there are three ways a child with ADHD might “present.” Some people think of these as three subtypes of ADHD, or three types of ADHD.

The type of ADHD a child presents depends on the signs that child has. ADHD symptoms fall into two categories. One is inattention. The other is hyperactivity/impulsivity. Symptoms can change as kids get older, however, so the type of ADHD they present can also change.

Learn more about the three different types of ADHD.

1. ADHD, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation

Kids 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. This type is seen most often in very young children.

It’s often easier to spot signs of this type of ADHD. Kids who have it may struggle to sit still in class and manage their behavior.

2. ADHD, predominantly inattentive presentation

Kids 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).

Kids with this type of ADHD may “fly under the radar” because they may not be disruptive in class. 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.

3. ADHD, combined presentation

Kids with this type of ADHD show significant problems with both hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention. They may gradually have less trouble with hyperactivity/impulsivity as they get into their teen years, however.

Explore a complete list of signs of ADHD. Find out how ADHD is diagnosed and how it can show up differently in girls and boys. And if you’re concerned your child might have ADHD, find out what to do next.

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    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.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Thomas E. Brown, PhD is a clinical psychologist and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.