TeachADHD Table 1-1: Manifestation of ADHD Symptoms in the Classroom

Tannock, R., Hum, M., Masellis, M., et al. (2000). Teacher Telephone Interview Basic Training Manual © 2000. Toronto: Unpublished Manuscript, The Hospital for Sick Children, Department of Psychiatry, Toronto, Canada

Inattentive Symptom Presentations in the Classroom

  1. Distracted very easily
  • Constantly looking around, head on a swivel, watching what others are doing
  • Pulled away from task at hand by other events or noises going on in-class, in the hallway, outside the window
  1. Difficulty concentrating on tasks for a reasonable length of time
  • Starts on an assignment but then loses focus
    May look day-dreamy or lost in thought and needs prompt to get back to work
  • Stares into space, at others, or at materials, but unfocused and does not get self back on task
  1. Difficulty paying close attention to detail (often makes careless mistakes)
  • Rarely includes required details, such as name and date
  • Rarely checks, edits, or proofreads own work before handing it in
  1. Problems following instructions and completing activities
  • May leave things half done, rush through work and not have followed instructions, or need constant supervision to continue and complete work
  1. Difficulty keeping track of their personal belongings and materials
  • Constantly looking for materials (such as pencils, books, or personal belongings)
  • Doesn’t get started on work because he or she can’t find needed materials: “Where’s my…”
  1. Struggles to remember routines and organize tasks, activities and things required for school (for example, writing assignments in homework book)
  • Forgets to jot assignments down in agenda book and forgets to hand in homework
  • Has materials but they are disorganized
  • Has difficulty completing independent projects with multiple steps
  1. Difficulty getting started on activities, particularly those that are challenging
  • Engages in active avoidance (for example, does something else, wanders around)
  • May need active supervision or prompting to get started
  1. Difficulty organizing work and leisure activities
  • Coat-hooks, cubby-holes, locker, desk, and backpack in constant disarray; materials spilling out everywhere
  • Papers misfiled or simply pushed into bag or other container
  • Toys, sports equipment, and other leisure materials mixed with clothes and school work
  1. Does not seem to be listening when spoken to directly
  • Has difficulty keeping focused on the conversation
  • May be able to repeat none or only some of the instructions just given in direct face-to-face conversation

Hyperactive-Impulsive Symptom Presentation in the Classroom

  1. Often fidgets, squirms, and turns around in the seat constantly during a lesson
  • May frequently drum fingers or tap a pencil on desk, repeatedly shift body positions on chair, and swing legs back and forth
  1. Seems like they are constantly on the go in the classroom
  • Rocks chair, constantly stands up or leans over desk, sits on one leg then the other, twirls on the seat or carpet
  • Continually touches, grabs, or plays with objects in close reach
  1. Makes a lot of noise even during play or leisure activities
  • Loud singing or talking during play or quiet time activities
  • Loud conversations
  • Fails to modulate volume of voice in class or use an “indoor voice”
    Bangs things on the desk
  1. Talks incessantly when not supposed to talk (but doesn’t say enough when called upon to respond to a question)
  • Very chatty and talks to others when supposed to be getting ready or working
  • May also ramble on about something that is not focus of discussion
  1. Blurts out answers before hearing the whole question
  • Starts talking or responding before the teacher finishes his or her question or comment
  • May shout out comment or question before instructions are finished
  1. Interrupts other’s conversations or activities
  • Talks over or cuts off the person who is talking
    Interrupts peers’ games or activities
  • Grabs toys or objects from others without permission
  1. Becomes easily frustrated waiting in line or when asked to take turns
  • Does not wait to be called upon during question/answer or discussion activities but rather calls out their answer or comment
  • Wants to be first in line
  • Gets upset, restless, or disruptive when waiting in line
  1. Leaves seat in classroom or other situation in which student is expected to stay in seat
  • Frequently stands instead of sitting at desk
  • Wanders around the classroom
  • Gets up during seat work to talk or go sharpen pencil
  • Moves from place to place on carpet during circle time (for younger students)
  1. Runs about in the classroom or is climbing excessively when it is not appropriate
  • Slides or runs down hallways
  • Runs from one activity to another when supposed to walk
  • Climbs over desks