NINDS Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Information Page

Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder
Source: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

What is Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder?
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects 3-5 percent of all American children. It interferes with a person’s ability to stay on a task and to exercise age-appropriate inhibition (cognitive alone or both cognitive and behavioral). Some of the warning signs of ADHD include failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and school work, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, leaving projects, chores and homework unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to and responding to details. There are several types of ADHD: a predominantly inattentive subtype, a predominantly hyperactive-impulsive subtype, and a combined subtype.

Is there any treatment?
The usual course of treatment may include medications such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) or pemoline (Cylert), which are stimulants that decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity and increase attention. Most experts agree that treatment for ADHD should address multiple aspects of the individual’s functioning and should not be limited to the use of medications alone. Treatment should include structured classroom management, parent education (to address discipline and limit-setting), and tutoring and/or behavioral therapy for the child.

What is the prognosis?
There is no "cure" for ADHD. Children with the disorder seldom outgrow it; however, some may find adaptive ways to accommodate the ADHD as they mature.

What research is being done?
Several components of the NIH support research on developmental disorders such as ADHD. Research programs of the NINDS, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) seek to address unanswered questions about the causes of ADHD, as well as to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Selected references

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Recent Literature. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 40:7; 699-707 (July 1989).

Attention Deficit Disorder: Current Perspectives. Pediatric Neurology, 3:3; 129-135 (1987).

Attention-Deficit Disorder in Adults. Clinical Therapeutics, 14:2; 138-147 (1992).

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder–Residual Type. Journal of Child Neurology, 6; S44-S50 (1991).

Diagnosis and Management of Attention Deficit Disorder: A Pediatric Perspective Pediatric Clinics of North America, 31:2; 429-457 (April 1984).


ADHD Challenge

P.O. Box 2277
West Peabody MA 01960-7277
Tel: 978-535-3366 800-ADD-2322 (233-2322)

Attention Deficit Information Network

475 Hillside Avenue
Needham MA 02194-1200
Tel: 781-455-9895
Fax: 781-444-5466

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder

8181 Professional Place
Suite 201
Landover MD 20785
Tel: 301-306-7070 800-233-4050
Fax: 301-306-7090

Learning Disabilities Association of America

4156 Library Road
Pittsburgh PA 15234-1349
Tel: 412-341-1515 412-341-8077
Fax: 412-344-0224

National Center for Learning Disabilities

381 Park Avenue South
Suite 1401
New York NY 10016
Tel: 212-545-7510 888-575-7373
Fax: 212-545-9665

NICHD/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Bldg. 31, Rm. 2A32
Bethesda MD 20892-2425
Tel: 301-496-5133

NIMH/National Institute of Mental Health

6001 Executive Blvd. Room 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda MD 20892-9663
Tel: 301-443-4513 Depression Info: 800-421-4211

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Provided by:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892