Expert Commentary: Is Your Child Hyperactive? Here's a Test

(Editor's Note: Our child development commentator, Judy Lyden, has worked with very young children for over thirty years. She's been a preschool teacher for over twenty. She co-owns the Garden School, an early childhood academic center, with Edith St. Louis. )

So your child's teacher or child care provider wants your child tested for Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity.

The first question is which one?

Rarely have I seen the traits of an attention deficit personality go with the traits of someone who is hyperactive. It wouldn't make sense. But you be the judge. Take the test for you and your child.

It is worthy to note that this test is given to children ages two and up, and many children are diagnosed with hyperactivity at ages two, three, four and five. You may have to adapt some of the obvious non fit wording to fit the child's age and disposition.

(When you get to "is often distracted by extraneous stimuli" you may add, "God, I hope so" and then say a brief prayer of thanksgiving if you can check that one because if a child is not distracted, he would not be a child; he would be a mannequin.)

Here's the ADHD Diagnostic Test from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Metal Disorders

Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level.

Attention Deficit

________        Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.

_______          Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.

_______          Often does not seem to listen when being spoken to directly.

_______          Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand directions)

_______          Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.

_______          Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework).

_______          Often looses things necessary for tasks or activities (such as toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).

_______          Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.

_______          Is often forgetful in daily activities.


Six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity - have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level.

________        Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.

________        Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.

_________      Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).

_________      Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.

_________      Is often "on the go" or often acts as if  "driven by a motor."

_________      Often talks excessively.


_________      Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed.

_________      Often has difficulty awaiting turn.

_________      Often interrupts or intrudes (butts into conversations or games).

Next time: Let's look at this test.