The 3 Types of ADHD

There are three types of ADHD:

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD: Children with this type of ADHD are hyperactive, so they’re often compelled to be in constant motion. They typically struggle with self-control and may act impulsively without thinking through consequences.

Inattentive ADHD: Kids with inattentive ADHD are easily distracted. They have trouble following instructions and maintaining focus. They’re often forgetful and tend to make careless mistakes and lose things easily. This type of ADHD used to be known as ADD.

Combined type ADHD: Children with combined type ADHD exhibit symptoms of both hyperactive-impulsive ADHD and inattentive ADHD. Combined type is the most common type of ADHD.

Symptoms of Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

In children, some of the key symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD include:

  • Always in motion, often running, climbing, or jumping
  • Difficulty sitting still for any period of time
  • Excessive fidgeting
  • Excessive talking
  • Frequent interrupting
  • Struggling to participate in quiet activities
  • Trouble completing activities or projects
  • Blurting out responses without waiting to be called on
  • Difficulty waiting for their turn or standing in line
  • Forgets and loses things often
  • Takes risks without thinking

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD in Boys vs. Girls

Overall, hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is more common in boys. In fact, boys are two to three times more likely to have hyperactive-impulsive or combined type ADHD than girls.

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is more recognizable because the symptoms can be more disruptive at school, at home, and in social settings. In addition, people generally associate hyperactivity and impulsivity with the disorder. Kids with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD exhibit behaviors that are linked with a stereotypical idea of what ADHD looks like.

Because the symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are hard to miss, children with this type are generally more likely to be referred for ADHD screening and receive a diagnosis. That isn’t the case for inattentive ADHD, which goes undiagnosed more frequently since the symptoms are not as noticeable and are less closely associated with the ADHD stereotype. So, while more boys are diagnosed with ADHD, girls are less likely to be referred for treatment because they tend to display inattentive symptoms rather than hyperactive and impulsive symptoms.

Treatment for Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

There aren’t set treatment recommendations for the three types of ADHD. Instead, each child may respond to different treatments. Most benefit from prescription medication, which may include stimulants or nonstimulants. Generally, stimulants are the most effective, but if side effects are problematic for the child, nonstimulant drugs can serve as an alternative.

Behavior therapy is often recommended in addition to medication. This type of therapy focuses on helping children recognize their ADHD symptoms and provides motivation to control those behaviors when they arise.