15 May 2024

Types of ADHD Explained

There are three main types of ADHD, which are categorised by the most prevalent types of traits that the patient presents. In our guide, we’ll …

There are three main types of ADHD, which are categorised by the most prevalent types of traits that the patient presents. In our guide, we’ll explain the three main types of ADHD and explain the traits associated with them.

What are the three types of ADHD?

The three types of ADHD consist of;

  • Predominantly inattentive
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
  • Combined type

What is predominantly inattentive ADHD?

Predominantly inattentive ADHD is characterised primarily by difficulty with organisation and paying attention. How this presents can differ depending on your gender and age. According to NICE, the inattentive subtype accounts for between 20-30% of all ADHD cases.

Inattentive ADHD is the most common form of ADHD in women and girls as they tend to be less obviously hyperactive, although it can affect men and boys too. The main symptoms of inattentive ADHD include.

  • Difficulty concentrating: People with inattentive ADHD are likely to find it difficult to concentrate for prolonged periods, especially if it isn’t something they are interested in. For example, they might find it difficult to sit down and watch a film or read a book.
  • Attention to detail: People with inattentive ADHD have poor attention to detail. Their work might include simple mistakes or typos that are overlooked. They might also miss details when given instructions.
  • Easily bored: People with inattentive ADHD are more likely to get bored quicker than neurotypical people. They might jump from activity to activity or hobby to hobby, before getting bored.
  • Prone to daydream: It is common for people with inattentive ADHD to be daydreamers. As a child, they may have been described as being “in their own little world”.
  • Difficulty with organisation: People with inattentive ADHD are likely to have trouble getting and staying organised. For children, they might always lose their homework or the equipment they need to stay on task. Adults may find it difficult to meal prep or organise household bills.
  • Difficulty listening: It can be difficult for people with inattentive ADHD to listen when spoken to directly, they may drift off or be easily distracted in conversation. They may find it difficult to follow instructions, as they find them difficult to listen to.
  • Forgetfulness: People with inattentive ADHD are usually more forgetful than neurotypical people, they might forget plans or where they’ve put things. They might be more likely to forget to cancel a free trial or to go to an appointment.

Because inattentive ADHD has less outwardly hyperactive and impulsive traits, it can sometimes be overlooked in childhood. Children with undiagnosed ADHD traits often find their inattentive traits are attributed to a lack of effort towards their academic performance – but this is not necessarily the case. Some adults with inattentive ADHD only realise that they have difficulty when they leave the structure of childhood, enter the workforce or start living independently.

What is predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD?

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is more likely to be diagnosed in children as opposed to adults and accounts for around 15% of all cases of ADHD. It is characterised by hyperactivity and high energy, and people with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD may often act without thinking. The main symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD include:

  • Fidgeting: Children with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are likely to have difficulty sitting still. At school, they might doodle, or mess around with their equipment rather than sit still. While Adults with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD will still fidget, it might not be as pronounced.
  • Always “on the go”: Often, children with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD find it difficult to stay sitting still at school. They might find excuses to get out of their seats like needing to sharpen their pencil or hand out worksheets. Adults with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are also likely to find it difficult to stay seated and find they’re more suited to physically active work.
  • Excessive running or climbing: A child with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD may run and climb in situations where it’s inappropriate. For example, they might run from classroom to classroom or in other indoor public spaces. Adults with hyperactive-impulse ADHD may feel the urge to run when it’s inappropriate to.
  • Has trouble with quiet activities: Often, children with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD will have trouble playing quietly. Both children and adults may also find it difficult to take part in activities where they are expected to be quiet, like while watching a film.
  • Talks all the time: Both children and adults with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are likely to be labelled as “chatterboxes”. They find it difficult to know when to stop talking or to end a conversation.
  • Interrupts conversations: Children and adults with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are likely to intrude in other people’s conversations or interrupt people when they’re talking. With children, they might interrupt other children’s games or blurt out the answer in class.
  • Trouble waiting their turn: Both children and adults with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are likely to have trouble with impatience – they might find it difficult to wait their turn.

It’s important to remember that not all hyperactivity is ADHD, learn more about how hyper is “normal” in our guide.

What is the combined type of ADHD?

The combined type of ADHD is, quite simply a combination of both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive types of ADHD. It is the most common presentation of ADHD, accounting for between 50-75% of all cases.

Individuals with combined type ADHD need to meet the diagnostic criteria for both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD. As with both types of other types of ADHD, traits need to have been present since childhood, in more than one setting (e.g at home and school). These ADHD traits must have a significant impact academically, socially or in the workplace.

Quality ADHD Assessments

Here at The Autism Service, we offer quality private ADHD Assessments. If you find that the traits explored in this article are impacting you or your child academically, in the workplace or socially. We have 29 clinics across the UK, so you can get peace of mind surrounding ADHD diagnosis without having to wait. Find out more about Adult or Child ADHD assessments or find a clinic today.

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