Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most discussed neurological disorders. Research indicates that there has been a 53% increase in the diagnosis of ADHD in the past decade, with some 6.4 million children between ages 4-17 years old receiving a diagnosis That’s a lot of kids! The diagnosis isn’t just for boy: there are a lot of girls with ADHD too. Many of the clients in my practice have a diagnosis of ADHD.

According to the DSM V, ADHD symptoms are presented in two categories:

  1. Inattentive
  2. Hyperactivity-Impulsivity

Released in May 2013, the updated DSM V listed some changes to the diagnosis of ADHD:

  1. Symptoms can be present by age 12 instead of age 6
  2. Several symptoms need to be present in more than one setting rather than just some impairment in more than one setting;
  3. Updated descriptions to indicate what symptoms present like at older ages; and for adults and adolescents age 17 or older,
  4. Only five symptoms need to be present instead of six for younger children.


In the inattentive category, there are nine criteria. Four of them indeed refer to being inattentive or having a short attention span: Doesn’t pay close attention, has difficulty listening, and is easily distracted. However the other five criteria all relate to organizational problems! These criteria include having difficulty organizing, trouble following through with organization, avoiding activities that require organization, losing things, and being forgetful. Does this sound familiar? Five if the nine criteria for the inattentive type of ADHD all relate to organizational problems- and you only need five of the criteria to diagnose ADHD of the predominately inattentive type. In other words, if your are significantly disorganized, you are already 5/6 of the way toward a diagnosis of ADHD. (Conversely, you typically can’t be diagnosed with ADHD you have to work at problems with organization.)

There are the nine criteria of the hyperactive- impulsive group. Six of those nine criteria relate to physical hyperactivity, such as fidgety, being always active, or talking excessively. The other three relate to impulsivity: blurting out answers, interrupting, or having trouble with turn taking. A child needs to meet at least six of these nine criteria to be classified as hyperactive-impulsive type.

According to all of these criteria, three types of ADHD can be diagnosed:

  1. ADHD, predominantly inattentive type. Girls are more typically of this type, which has been referred to as ADD. These are the “Earth to Jill” kids. In particular, bright cute girls who are inattentive tend to slip under the radar until later years in school.ADHD, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type. This diagnosis is not as common as the other ADHD types since it excludes the inattentive piece,
  2. ADHD, combined type. The inattentive and hyperactive-impulsivity types are occurring together.
    The DSM V indicates that a few more criteria needs to be met for an ADHD diagnosis that include several symptoms need to be present in two or more setting, (home or school) and that symptoms interfere with the quality of the child’s functioning.