AD/HD symptoms seem to be present at an early age. Some of the
inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms present themselves before
seven years of age. Though some may have been easy babies, many will
have been irritable, demanding infants. Many parents have reported that
their infants were light sleepers and as a result, they had to pace up
and down the hall way or drive around the neighbourhood for hours till
their child fell asleep. Even though their infants slept for only a few
hours, they woke up as fresh and active as ever. Once able to walk, many
ADHD toddlers are reported to have been very active and into everything.
Many parents reported being afraid to let their toddler out of sight as
they were constantly into mischief, hurting themselves (falling of the
garden tree for example) or hurting others (pushing a child of the swing
so they can have a turn)(Wodrich, 1994).
At nursery and pre-school, ADHD children become even more active and
restless. For many, it is hard to sit at story-time. Some can be
disruptive and show anti-social or aggressive behaviour to their peers,
particularly in the playground where they often dominate other children.
At home, these children wind up their siblings and are always in
trouble. On the other hand, the children that are ‘AD/HD Inattentive’
also tend to stand out in the class. These children are slow to complete
activities and seem spaced out and dreamy. However, these children are
fairly well behaved in school settings (Myttas, 2004).
During the early years, these behaviours may not be taken seriously by
many teachers and parents. Because all children must learn how to behave
in acceptable ways, these behaviours may not differ dramatically from
those of other children of the same age. School teachers may be puzzled
due to the inconsistencies of their behaviour. Some days the child may
be attentive to a task and finish all their work, while other days, or
even in the next hour, he/she may seem to ‘be in a fog’ or become
disruptive. They appear inconsistent when, for example, they perform
well at school work when closely supervised, but not when taught within
As ADHD children get older and work becomes more demanding, they are
required to sustain attention, limit their activity level and comply
with school rules. Their struggle gradually becomes more and more
obvious (O’Regan, 2002; Barkley,1992; Flick, 1998).
Research suggests that AD/HD is not only confined to childhood years,
between 50-65% of children will carry some of the symptoms into their
adult life. Adults with AD/HD show a higher incidence of problems
relating to achievement and vocational issues. Even though some of the
symptoms persist into adulthood, individuals with AD/HD can live a
successful life provided that accommodations are made for their
disability in daily living situations. Early identification is crucial
and multimodal treatment reduces the severity of their AD/HD problems
into adulthood (Wodrich, 1994; Barkley, 1992).