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About AD/HD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is one of the most common behavioral conditions affecting between 5% - 11% of school-age children. In the typical Hong Kong classroom it’s likely that at least one student has AD/HD, though they may go undiagnosed. People with AD/HD often have an uneven learning profile such that an “average” IQ score frequently masks a combination of both exceptionally low and exceptionally high skills. 


What is AD/HD?

ADHD is characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.  To start, the CHADD site offers the most comprehensive overview of AD/HD and is a recommended first stop for anyone wanting to learn more about children, teens or adults with AD/HD.  Information is available in both English and Chinese.  

About AD/HD Fact Sheet from CHADD


What causes AD/HD?

Although precise causes have not yet been identified, there is little question that heredity plays the biggest part in AD/HD.   If your child has AD/HD, there is a one in four chance you have AD/HD too, whether it’s been diagnosed or not. 

One thing that is clear, parenting skills are not the cause.  AD/HD does not come from a lack of discipline; it’s a brain-based biological condition.  Knowing there are medical reasons for why your child talks constantly or can’t stop daydreaming can help you see things in a different light. 


Read more about the science of AD/HD:

Types of AD/HD?

AD/HD is divided into three types: Inattentive Type (does not show significant hyperactive-impulsive behavior), Hyperactive-Impulsive type (does not show significant inattention) or Combined Type.


For a description of each sub type read  ADHD basic: symptoms of ADHD from LDonline for more detail.

Common signs of AD/HD

All children are sometimes restless, sometimes act without thinking, and sometimes daydream the time away.  When the child's hyperactivity, distractibility, poor concentration, or impulsivity begins to affect performance in school, social relationships or behavior at home, AD/HD may be suspected.  For your child to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, the signs have to be present for at least six months.  See “Checklist: signs of ADHD at Different Ages from  LDonline for more detail.


Girls and boys frequently display different AD/HD symptoms. Boys with AD/HD frequently stand out more in the crowd than girls. Girls, regardless of which kind of AD/HD they have—the hyperactive-impulsive kind or the inattentive, day-dreamy kind seem to compensate better in school.

How is the Diagnosis of AD/HD Made?

There is no single test to diagnose AD/HD.  A comprehensive evaluation is necessary to establish a diagnosis, rule out other causes, and determine the presence or absence of co-existing conditions. The evaluation should include a careful history and a clinical assessment of the individual’s academic, social, and emotional functioning and developmental level and should be made by a developmental pediatrician, pediatric neurologist or psychiatrist and a developmental, clinical or educational Psychologist at Phd level. - See more at:


In this short video, Dr. Thomas E Brown explains the complexity of AD/HD and the information needed to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.  

What are the treatments for AD/HD?

Treating AD/HD often requires a “multimodal” approach, which may include: medication, behavioral therapy, educational support, skills training, counseling and education regarding AD/HD.   See CHADD for an accurate and comprehensive discussion about medication.


In this short video Edward Hallowell, MD, EdD, describes medication for AD/HD Medication for AD/HD


Positive attributes associated with AD/HD?


People with AD/HD tend to have many creative talents (usually underdeveloped until the diagnosis is made) and a highly original, out-of-the-box way of thinking. As highly intuitive people with a special “feel” for life, they can possess an almost “sixth sense” that lets them see straight to the heart of a matter instead of having to think it through methodically.  Listen to Ned Hallowell MD, EdD describe the positive traits of AD/HD


AD/HD Myths and Misunderstandings 


The popular press regularly features articles that are factually incorrect with respect to the cause, diagnosis or treatment of AD/HD.   Make sure you are well informed, so you don’t worry unnecessarily or spend precious funds on treatments that do not have demonstrated results. CHADD shares some of the common misconceptions and recent research available to address them:


Ten Myths About AD/HD and Why They Are Wrong

This article, from ATTENTION magazine (June, 2013 issue), is comprised of excerpts from the first chapter of  Dr. Brown’s book, A New Understanding of AD/HD in Children and Adults: Executive Function Impairments (Routledge, 2013). Download a PDF of the article here

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