Learn about ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people’s behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.

Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school.

Most cases are diagnosed when children are under 12 years old, but sometimes it’s diagnosed later in childhood.

Sometimes ADHD was not recognised when someone was a child, and they are diagnosed later as an adult.

The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who were diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience problems.

People with ADHD may also have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.


The estimated prevalence of ADHD in East Berkshire is 3.1% or 14,448 people and is projected to grow to 4.2% or 19574 people by 2035 (Attain, 2019)

The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into 2 types of behavioural problems:


Inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing)


Hyperactivity and impulsiveness


Many people with ADHD have problems that fall into both these categories, but this is not always the case.

For example, around 2 to 3 in 10 people with the condition have problems with concentrating and focusing, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness.

This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD). ADD can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.


ADHD is more often diagnosed in boys than girls. Girls are more likely to have symptoms of inattentiveness only and are less likely to show disruptive behaviour that makes ADHD symptoms more obvious. This means girls who have ADHD may not always be diagnosed.


Symptoms in children and teenagers

The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well defined, and they’re usually noticeable before the age of 6. They occur in more than 1 situation, such as at home and at school.

Children may have symptoms of both inattentiveness and hyperactivity and impulsiveness, or they may have symptoms of just 1 of these types of behaviour.

The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming.
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions.
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organising tasks
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness
  • The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:
  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings.
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks.
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn.
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger

These symptoms can cause significant problems in a child’s life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.


In adults, the symptoms of ADHD are more difficult to define. This is largely due to a lack of research into adults with ADHD.

As ADHD is a developmental disorder, it’s believed it cannot develop in adults without it first appearing during childhood. But symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers often continue into adulthood.

The way in which inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness affect adults can be very different from the way they affect children.

For example, hyperactivity tends to decrease in adults, while inattentiveness tends to remain as the pressures of adult life increase.

Adult symptoms of ADHD also tend to be far more subtle than childhood symptoms.

Some specialists have suggested the following as a list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults:

  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • poor organisational skills
  • inability to focus or prioritise.
  • continually losing or misplacing things
  • forgetfulness
  • restlessness and edginess
  • difficulty keeping quiet and speaking out of turn.
  • blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • mood swings, irritability, and a quick temper
  • inability to deal with stress.
  • extreme impatience
  • taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously


Many children go through phases where they are restless or inattentive. This is often completely normal and does not necessarily mean they have ADHD.

But you should discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher, their school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or a GP if you think their behaviour may be different from most children their age.

To find out more about ADHD assessment for children and young people aged 6-18 years please visit the ADHD team page on the Berkshire Healthcare website. It is important to understand that CAMHS will not accept a referral for ADHD until a child has reached their 6th Birthday. Click here


It’s also a good idea to speak to a GP if you’re an adult and think you may have ADHD but were not diagnosed with the condition as a child. Click here

If the GP thinks your child may have ADHD, they may first suggest a period of “watchful waiting” – lasting around 10 weeks – to see if your child’s symptoms improve, stay the same or get worse.


They may also suggest starting a group-based, ADHD-focused parent training or education programme. Being offered a parent training and education programme does not mean you have been a bad parent – it aims to teach you ways of helping yourself and your child.


If your child’s behaviour does not improve, and both you and the GP believe it’s affecting their day-to-day life, the GP should refer you and your child to a specialist for a formal assessment.


You or your child may be referred to 1 of the following types of specialists for a formal assessment:


A specialist child or adult psychiatrist.


A paediatrician – a specialist in children’s health.


An appropriately qualified healthcare professional with training and expertise in the diagnosis of ADHD


Who you’re referred to depends on your age and what’s available in your local area.


Diagnosis in Children and young people.

There’s no simple test to determine whether you or your child has ADHD, but your specialist can make an accurate diagnosis after a detailed assessment. The assessment may include:


A physical examination, which can help rule out other possible causes for the symptoms.


A series of interviews with you or your child.


Interviews or reports from other significant people, such as partners, parents, and teachers.


Diagnosing ADHD in children depends on a set of strict criteria. To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must have 6 or more symptoms of inattentiveness, or 6 or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness.


To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must also have:


Been displaying symptoms continuously for at least 6 months.


Started to show symptoms before the age of 12.


Been showing symptoms in at least 2 different settings – for example, at home and at school, to rule out the possibility that the behaviour is just a reaction to certain teachers or to parental control.


Symptoms that make their lives considerably more difficult on a social, academic, or occupational level.


Symptoms that are not just part of a developmental disorder or difficult phase and are not better accounted for by another condition.


To find out more about ADHD assessment for children and young people aged 6-18 years please visit the ADHD team page on the Berkshire Healthcare website. Click here


NICE guidance describes the standards expected for assessment, treatment and management of ADHD. Click here

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance recommends the following for children and young people: information about ADHD, advice on parenting strategies, in some cases a parent training programme, medication if ADHD symptoms are still causing persistent difficulties, after other strategies have been tried, consider offering Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in certain circumstances (where medication has helped but there are still issues).


NICE also emphasise a balanced diet, good nutrition, and regular exercise. Click here


Medicines can help some people with ADHD concentrate better, be less impulsive, feel calmer, and learn and practise new skills.


How can people with ADHD take a strength-based approach?

Living with ADHD discusses ten ways in which people can talk about the positives of ADHD. Click here


Learning from and getting support from others is important and there are numerous support groups and people willing to help.


Regardless of the difficulties people with ADHD may face, it shouldn’t stop them from thriving in their lives and accomplishing their goals.  Here are some examples of people who live with ADHD and have been successful, Harry Potter star Emma Watson, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Simone Biles, Justin Timberlake, Whoopie Goldberg, Will Smith, Ant McPartlin, Britney Spears, Heston Blumenthal, James Haskell – there are many more.

Do make sure your child feels loved and accepted. Help him/her to understand that ADHD has nothing to do with his/her intelligence or his/her ability and that it is not a flaw.

Choose a time when you are not likely to be interrupted and leave some time for follow up.

Do let your child know they are not alone. Let your child talk to someone in the family or a friend who has ADHD.


Do not be surprised if your child does not respond immediately or seems uninterested. It takes some children, particularly younger ones, time for new information to make sense, or to know what questions to ask.


Do learn more about ADHD.


Focus on their strengths, what they do well, and praise their accomplishments so they can pursue their interests and do well with your support.


Do not let your child use his/her ADHD as an excuse. Parents need to help their child understand that ADHD is not a reason to not turn in homework, to not try their hardest, or to give up.

Keep the dialogue going, talk about school, their friends, homework, extracurricular activities, and keep a positive attitude.


The above tips were sources from WebMD.


The following ten-minute videos produced for parents by the UKADHD charity may be helpful. Click here

Your child’s school special educational needs coordinator will be able to advise as each school must follow national guidance on the inclusion of children and young people with ADHD in schools and further educational settings.


Living with ADHD provide tips for teachers about how to take a strength-based approach to supporting young people in school. This will involve staff talking to parents and finding out about the young persons’ strengths when they are at home and in school.


The Joint Council for Qualifications notes that there are special arrangements for teenagers diagnosed with ADHD who are sitting GCSE or A levels. These include.

  • supervised rest breaks
  • a prompter
  • separate invigilation in another room
  • extra time
  • a reader
  • a word processor
  • a scribe
  • coloured overlays (for those who find this makes print clearer)


ADHD Foundation – How can schools and colleges help children and young people with ADHD achieve their potential. Click here


Janssen and Me have a very useful guide for working with your child’s or young person’s education provider. Click here


IPSEA: Independent Provider of Special Education Advice: information and training on the support disabled children are legally entitled to at school, including Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). Click here

East Berkshire services


Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust ADHD team for children and young people Click Here


Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust ADHD team for adults Click Here


Parenting Special Children; provide specialist parenting support to parents and carers of children and young people with Special Needs, so that they can create positive change in their lives Click Here


Bracknell Forest SEND Local Offer: a guide to services available for children and young people in Bracknell Forest with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged from birth to 25. Click Here


Bracknell Forest Information and Advice Service: provides confidential and impartial advice and information to support parents or carers and children and young people who have, or may have, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Bracknell Forest by Click here


RBWM SEND Local Offer: provides information on local services and support available for families including children and young people aged 0 – 25 years with special educational needs or disabilities Click Here


RBWM Information and Advice Service: free, impartial and confidential information, advice and support to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) up to age 25, and their parents/carers. Click Here


Slough SEND Local Offer – information and advice for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their families about education, health, social care and other services in Slough Click Here


Slough SENDIASS – Information Advice and Support Service: a confidential and impartial support and advice service for parents, carers and children and young people (aged up to 25 years) on issues to do with special educational needs and disabilities and needs of children/young people with special needs. Click Here


Special Voices – Slough Parent Carer Forum: raise awareness about the rights and needs of children/young people with special needs and to ensure that they and their families are consulted and involved in any decisions made during planning or developing services for them Click Here

AADD-UK – Site for and by adults with ADHD: raising awareness of ADHD in adulthood Click Here


ADDISS – Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service: information and resources about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to anyone who needs assistance – parents, sufferers, teachers or health professionals Click Here


ADDItude a US online magazine for young people and adults with ADHD, parents, professionals Click Here


ADHD Foundation: an integrated health and education service offering a unique lifespan – strength based service, for the 1 in 5 people who live with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Tourette’s syndrome. Click Here


ADHD Wise UK – Information, support and resources for ADHD for people with ADHD, parents and professionals:  set up by adults who are diagnosed with ADHD themselves and use it to good effect, to ‘promote positive outcomes’ for those with ADHD Click Here


ADHD and You – ADHD information website for parents and carers, young people, adults, and professionals with tips and downloadable resources Click Here


CHADD Children and adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder Click Here


NHS Choices: overview of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder Click Here


UK ADHD Partnership: video resources and support groups for parents and professionals Click Here


National links for disability

Cerebra – children with a brain condition: advice and support on subjects including education, Disability Living Allowance (DLA), toilet training and sleep Click Here


Chatterpack – a voluntary-run, special educational needs and disabilities hub free SEND resources for families, schools and other professionals Click Here


Choice Support – social care charity working across much of England to provide the best possible support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs Click Here


Contact – for families with disabled children: supporting families with the best possible guidance and information Click Here


Disability Law Service – free advice via information, factsheets, training courses and telephone and written advice in areas relevant to people with disabilities and their carers Click Here


IPSEA – Independent Provider of Special Education Advice: information and training on the support disabled children are legally entitled to at school, including Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) Click Here


Mencap – The Voice of Learning Disability: information about learning difficulties and learning disabilities related to autism, Down syndrome and other conditions Click Here


Sibs – for siblings of disabled people: Sibs aims to enhance the lives of siblings of disabled people by providing them with information and support, and by influencing service provision throughout the UK Click Here


Sunflower – Hidden Disabilities: information about Sunflower lanyards, increasingly used to  discreetly indicate to people around you including staff, colleagues and health professionals that you have a hidden disability and you may need additional support, help or more time Click Here


The Continence Foundation – treatment, prevention, causes, types and living with continence issues Click Here


Ways Into Work – Supported Employment, Supported Internships, Recruitment and Workplace Support for disabled people Click Here


ACAMH – Association for Child and Adult Mental Health: online portal with professional seminars on topics related to autism and ADHD Click Here


Anxiety UK: supporting people with anxiety, stress, anxiety-based depression or a phobia with downloadable guides and online or helpline support Click Here


CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably (mental health support for men): a free and confidential helpline and webchat – 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems Click Here


Childline: support for children’s metal health online and by telephone Click Here


Family Lives – supporting parents and families in crisis: family support services offered through helpline, and offering tailored support around issues such as bullying, special educational needs, and support for specific communities Click Here


Harmless – Self Harm Support: a national voluntary organisation for people who self-harm, their friends, families and professionals Click Here


Mental Health Foundation: aims to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive, to help people understand, protect and sustain their mental health Click Here


Mind – mental health charity: provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem Click Here


Salvesen Mindroom Centre– Back to School Toolkits for children, parents and carers and teachers Click Here


The Samaritans: 24 hours a day suicide prevention support online or by telephone Click Here


Young Minds: fighting for children and young people’s mental and emotional health. Support for parents and carers as well as young people Click Here

Emotionally Related School Avoidance (ERSA) describes a group of children and young people who experience difficulties attending school. It can range from children and young people who are still attending school but present with anxiety, through to those with no attendance at school for an extended period. The roots lie in emotional, psychological & relational issues.

Although children’s and young people’s behaviours might not be readily recognisable as ERSA at the early stages, it highlights their vulnerability to develop ERSA. The 2022 Attendance Audit from the Children’s Commissioner found that in Autumn 2021, 1 in 4 children were persistently absent. In 2018/2019, this figure was 1 in 9 – meaning that persistent absence has more than doubled in this time.


An ERSA guidance and toolkit has been developed and shared with all schools across the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.


The ERSA toolkit is a set of guidance intended to support schools completing early intervention work to support children and young people presenting with ERSA to attend school.


The ERSA toolkit includes a graduated response guide, outlining to schools the appropriate resources, measures, and referrals to be implemented at the varying stages and severity of ERSA.


Please contact the ERSA email for school training, advice and signposting support from the ERSA coordinator. Email: ersa@achievingforchildren.org.uk

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