ADHD in Adults vs Children: What Are the Differences?

While both adults and children can have ADHD, the condition manifests in very different ways. The through-line are three major symptoms, which individuals can experience in different combinations or intensity: impulsiveness, inattention and hyperactivity. ADD supplements for adults and children can alleviate these, but before a treatment plan can be created, you need a proper diagnosis. To help, here’s a breakdown of the three major symptoms and how they can be identified in adults versus children.


Impulsiveness is characterized as the tendency to act first and think later. Impulsive people may also be impatient, even when patience would be beneficial. While people without ADHD can be impulsive as part of their personalities, people with ADHD experience impulsiveness as part of their medical condition.


In adults, impulsiveness can manifest in several behaviors:

  • Interrupting conversations
  • Risky behaviors
  • Erratic spending patterns

Impulsiveness can become dangerous for adults, as it may result in driving too fast, engaging in unprotected sex and other spur-of-the-moment decisions that can have dire consequences.


Children often have some level of impulsiveness, but are expected to learn caution as they get older. Children with ADHD may struggle with this and continue to show impulsive behaviors long after their peers have outgrown them:

  • Taking physical risks
  • Cutting in line
  • Blurting out answers


Individuals with ADHD often exhibit inattention, which is difficulty paying attention to and remembering details. In some cases, individuals may be easily distracted and therefore have trouble staying on-task.


Adults experiencing inattention may forget to pay bills, lose their keys and miss important meetings. They may also have difficulty focusing on a singular task and instead “multitask” in an attempt to keep themselves productive. When doing so, however, they may leave tasks half-finished, thereby eliminating any productivity multitasking may provide.


There tends to be a lot of crossover between inattention in adults and children. However, children’s inattention becomes most apparent in school. Students with ADHD may forget homework, not turn in projects and lose personal belongings. At home, they may forget to do chores or leave them half-finished.


Hyperactivity is what separates ADHD from ADD. Individuals with hyperactivity have very high energy levels and feel the need to be constantly moving. It can be treated with calming tablets for children and medication for adults.


Adults with hyperactivity may not act on the impulse to move around, but still experience internal restlessness nonetheless. This can lead to fidgeting, impatience and general boredom. Adults with hyperactivity may also move from activity to activity in an attempt to keep themselves occupied.


While most children are energetic to some extent, hyperactivity goes beyond the normal scope. Kids with ADHD may have difficulty sitting still, which can result in discipline at school. However, it’s important to note that children with ADHD aren’t being disruptive on purpose and are simply trying to alleviate a feeling of restlessness.

ADHD may manifest differently in adults and children, but it presents the same types of obstacles. Fortunately, with Brillia medication and the care of a physician, individuals with ADHD can manage their symptoms.