Types of ADHD


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults, impacting their ability to regulate attention, focus, and impulses. Although ADHD is commonly associated with hyperactivity, there are three primary types of ADHD, each with its own distinct set of symptoms and challenges. It’s essential to approach ADHD with empathy and a recognition of the diverse experiences individuals may have. ADHD shows up differently in each person, with some facing difficulties primarily in attention and focus while others struggle with hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Recognizing these variations enables us to tailor support strategies to meet individual needs. By understanding the core characteristics of ADHD, we can develop a more compassionate and inclusive environment for those living with the condition. In this full-length article, we will explore the types of ADHD, including their characteristics, diagnosis, and treatment options for each type.


ADHD Types

ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis; instead, it comprises various subtypes that individuals may exhibit. These subtypes include predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, and a combined presentation. Recognizing these distinctions is important for customizing interventions and support. Acknowledging the specific challenges of each subtype, we can develop personalized strategies to refine focus, organization, and self-control.


Overview of ADHD Subtypes

Understanding the various subtypes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is essential for providing targeted support. By recognizing the unique characteristics of each subtype, we can customize approaches to meet individual needs. Recognizing the different types of ADHD is vital in developing effective strategies for support and conciliation. Each subtype presents its challenges, and understanding these variations allows for personalized approaches to treatment. By acknowledging the diverse ways ADHD exhibits, we can create a more empathetic and targeted support system, ensuring individuals receive the assistance they need to thrive.

This section aims to provide clarity on the distinct features of Predominantly Inattentive Presentation (ADHD-PI), Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation (ADHD-HI), and Combined Presentation (ADHD-C), boosting your understanding of ADHD. 

1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation (ADHD-I)

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation (ADHD-I)

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized primarily by inattentiveness and distractibility without the presence of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Some of the common examples are procrastination, hesitation, and forgetfulness. Individuals with Predominantly Inattentive Presentation (often referred to as ADHD-I) may have significant difficulties focusing, following detailed instructions, and organizing tasks. This can lead to apparent forgetfulness and frequent misplacement of items. Unlike those with the Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation, individuals with ADHD-I might not exhibit overly active behaviour. Instead, they may seem to daydream or appear to be not listening when spoken to directly. This can lead to academic difficulties, problems in the workplace, and interpersonal issues due to the perceived lack of attention or forgetfulness.


Predominantly Inattentive Presentation Signs & Symptoms

  • Difficulty sustaining attention: Individuals may struggle to focus on tasks, resulting in incomplete assignments or frequent mistakes.
  • Easily distracted: Even minor stimuli can divert attention, making concentrating in environments with multiple distractions challenging.
  • Forgetfulness: Forgetting daily activities, appointments, and responsibilities is a common trait. It can contribute to difficulties in planning and organization.
  • Difficulty following instructions: Individuals with ADHD-HI may have trouble understanding and carrying out instructions, which can affect academic or work performance.


Predominantly Inattentive Presentation Diagnosis

Diagnosing ADHD-I requires a thorough assessment that considers the presence of symptoms in different settings, such as home, school, and work. Psychologists and psychiatrists commonly utilize standardized rating scales, interviews, and behavioural observations to make an accurate diagnosis.


Predominantly Inattentive Presentation Treatment

The treatment approach for ADHD-I usually involves behavioural interventions, psychoeducation, and, when appropriate, medication. Behavioural strategies include implementing organizational tools, creating structured routines, and providing regular feedback and positive reinforcement. The objective is to manage hyperactivity and impulsivity effectively, promoting improved self-control and overall well-being.

2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation (ADHD-HI)

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation (ADHD-HI)

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation is a neurobehavioral disorder primarily characterized by excessive energy or hyperactive movements and impulsive decision-making. This can manifest as an inability to sit still, excessive talking, running or climbing inappropriately, difficulty waiting for turns, and acting without much consideration for consequences. In this presentation of ADHD, individuals display hyperactive and impulsive behaviour but may not struggle as much with the symptoms of inattention. These individuals may find it hard to sit still, talk excessively, interrupt others frequently, and act without much consideration for consequences.


Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation Symptoms

  • Excessive fidgeting and restlessness: Individuals may struggle to sit still and constantly feel the urge to move or engage in physical activities.
  • Impulsive decision-making: Acting on impulses without considering the consequences can pose challenges in personal and professional relationships.
  • Difficulty waiting turns: Common traits include impatience and a tendency to interrupt others during conversations or activities.
  • Excessive talking: People with ADHD-HI may talk excessively, have difficulty interrupting others, and struggle to engage in quiet, focused activities.
  • Risk-taking behaviour: Impulsivity can exhibit risky behaviours, such as reckless driving or engaging in activities without considering potential dangers.


Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation Diagnosis

Diagnosing ADHD-HI involves thoroughly evaluating the individual’s behaviour and considering the frequency and intensity of hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. Tools like the ADHD Rating Scale assess the impact, and a collaborative approach with specialists ensures personalized and supportive treatment, providing clarity and assistance in coping with challenges.


Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation Treatment

Similar to ADHD-I, treatment for ADHD-HI often involves a combination of behavioural interventions and, in some cases, medication. Behavioural strategies include implementing structure and routine, setting clear expectations, and utilizing positive reinforcement techniques. Medications, such as stimulants or non-stimulants, may be prescribed based on the individual’s specific needs and response to treatment.

3. Combined Presentation

Combined Presentation

Combined Presentation is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms. Individuals with this type of ADHD display a mixture of behaviours related to poor sustained attention, distractibility, impulsivity, and excessive motor activity. This is the most common type of ADHD and involves symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.

To be diagnosed with Combined Presentation, an individual must meet the criteria for both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity for the past six months. This presentation is particularly challenging because it can lead to a wide range of issues, such as difficulties in academic environments, challenging relationships, and problems with self-esteem.


Combined Presentation Symptoms

  • Inattention and distractibility: Individuals with ADHD-C struggle to sustain attention and are easily prone to distractions.
  • Hyperactivity and restlessness: Individuals with ADHD-C show hyperactive behaviour, such as fidgeting or difficulty remaining seated.
  • Impulsivity: Acting on impulses without considering the consequences is a notable feature, leading to challenges in social and academic settings.
  • Difficulty organizing tasks: Individuals may struggle to organize tasks and manage time, resulting in incomplete assignments or projects.
  • Interrupting others: Common traits include difficulty waiting for turns and frequently interrupting conversations or activities.


Combined Presentation Diagnosis

The diagnosis of ADHD-C involves a thorough assessment that considers both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. The diagnostic process incorporates behavioural observations, medical history, and input from relevant individuals. A healthcare professional may use standardized diagnostic criteria, interviews, and observations to make an accurate diagnosis.


Combined Presentation Treatment

Treating ADHD-C requires a many-sided approach that combines strategies to address both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Behavioural strategies include creating a structured environment, setting clear expectations, and providing organizational tools. Medications, such as stimulants or non-stimulants, may be prescribed based on the individual’s needs and response to treatment.

ADHD in Different Age Groups

Understanding how ADHD presents in different age groups is essential for providing age-appropriate support and intervention tailored to each developmental stage. This recognition is not only crucial for the management of ADHD but also for ensuring that individuals receive the correct diagnosis and the most effective treatment. Here, we will explore ADHD in children, adolescents, and adults, shedding light on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment approaches tailored to each developmental stage.


ADHD in Children

ADHD in children is characterized by patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that are more severe, frequent, or interfering than typical behaviours for a child’s age. Handling ADHD in children can pose challenges, but the first important step is understanding the symptoms. 



For children with ADHD, it is important to watch for signs such as persistent inattention, impulsive behaviour, and restlessness. Noticeable struggles in academic and social settings may also indicate the presence of ADHD. Promptly identifying these symptoms enables a compassionate and informed approach to care.



Diagnosing ADHD in children involves comprehensive assessments by healthcare professionals. Combining behavioural observations, parent and teacher input, and psychological evaluations contributes to a thorough understanding. 



Treating ADHD in children often combines behavioural therapy, educational support, and, in some cases, medication. Collaborating with educators, parents, and healthcare providers ensures a holistic and empathetic approach. 


ADHD in Adolescents

In adolescents, ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that is more pronounced than what is typically observed in individuals at a similar level of development. To effectively address the complications of ADHD in adolescents, it is necessary to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. 



In adolescents, ADHD symptoms may present themselves as academic difficulties, impulsive decision-making, and struggles with time management. Considering the unique challenges adolescents face, it is essential to approach these signs with compassion.



Diagnosing ADHD in adolescents requires a collaborative effort involving parents, educators, and mental health professionals. Thorough assessments, including psychological evaluations, help create a personalized plan.  



Adolescents with ADHD benefit from a comprehensive treatment approach. The approach may involve counselling, academic accommodations, and, if deemed appropriate, medication. 


ADHD in Adults

ADHD affects not only children but can also persist into adulthood, impacting various aspects of life. The first step towards effective coping strategies is recognizing adult symptoms, such as chronic forgetfulness, impulsivity, and difficulty sustaining attention. Learn more in our comprehensive post, “ADHD in Adults.”



ADHD symptoms in adults often show up as challenges in time management, impulsivity, and difficulty focusing on tasks. These traits can impact personal and professional life. Developing self-awareness and seeking support contribute to a positive journey of managing and thriving with ADHD.



Diagnosing ADHD in adults involves thoroughly assessing the individual’s history, symptoms, and daily functioning. Collaborating with mental health professionals allows for a nuanced understanding. They use standardized rating scales, interviews, and observations to gather information and make an accurate diagnosis.



Managing ADHD in adults includes employing various strategies, such as therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and, if appropriate, medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be particularly beneficial in addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of the disorder, assisting individuals in developing coping strategies and improving executive functioning.


Impacts of ADHD on daily life

Living with ADHD presents unique challenges, but it is important to understand its impact. Whether it’s academic pursuits or personal relationships, understanding the specific challenges associated with each type is essential for developing targeted arbitrations and support systems.


Academic Challenges

Individuals with ADHD may encounter difficulties with concentration, organization, and time management when it comes to academics. Teachers and educators can implement accommodations such as providing extended time on tests or modifying assignments to support these individuals. 


Occupational Functioning

In the workplace, individuals with ADHD may face challenges in time management, meeting deadlines, and staying organized. Employers can enhance productivity by providing accommodations such as clear instructions, structured routines, and a quiet workspace.


Interpersonal Relationships

ADHD can impact the building and maintenance of relationships, as individuals may struggle with communication and impulsivity. Communication strategies, such as open dialogue, visual aids, or written instructions, can facilitate effective interaction and understanding. 


Emotional Well-being

Individuals with ADHD may experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Education about ADHD, coupled with therapeutic interventions and self-care practices, empowers individuals to cope with these emotional challenges, helping individuals build potency and coping skills.


Diagnosis and Assessment

The diagnosis of ADHD involves a comprehensive and careful approach that includes clinical interviews, standardized rating scales, behavioural observations, medical evaluations, and gathering collateral information from multiple sources. This process helps healthcare professionals understand the individual’s developmental history, symptoms, and challenges in various settings and rule out other medical conditions, ensuring a precise diagnosis and creating a tailored treatment plan.

Learn more about Diagnosis and Assessment in our comprehensive post, “ADHD Diagnosis.”


Treatment Approaches for ADHD

The treatment of ADHD is often multimodal, combining behavioural interventions, psychoeducation, and, in some cases, medication. Treatment choice depends on the individual’s specific symptoms, challenges, and preferences. Here are the key components of ADHD treatment:


1. Behavioural Interventions

Behavioural strategies are essential in managing ADHD symptoms and improving daily functioning. These interventions include creating structured routines, setting clear expectations, using organizational tools, and providing positive reinforcement for desired behaviours.


2. Psychoeducation

Education about ADHD is essential for individuals and their families to understand the nature of the disorder, its impact on daily life, and available treatment options. Psychoeducation can also help reduce stigma and improve self-esteem.


3. Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be beneficial in addressing emotional challenges associated with ADHD. CBT helps individuals develop coping strategies, improve executive functioning, and enhance problem-solving skills.


4. Medication

Stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate and amphetamines, are commonly prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms. Non-stimulant medications, such as atomoxetine and guanfacine, may be recommended for individuals who do not respond well to stimulants or have contraindications. Learn more in our comprehensive post, “ADHD Medication.”


5. Educational Accommodations

In educational settings, accommodations such as extended time on tests, modified assignments, and preferential seating can support students with ADHD. Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 Plans outline specific accommodations based on the student’s needs.


6. Parental and Teacher Training

Providing parents and teachers with training on effective strategies for managing ADHD can contribute to a supportive environment. The strategy may include teaching behaviour management techniques, communication strategies, and ways to reinforce positive behaviours.


Myths and Realities

ADHD is a complex and often misunderstood disorder, leading to various myths and misconceptions. Dispelling these myths is necessary for promoting understanding and providing accurate information about ADHD. It’s a neurodevelopmental disorder with genetic links, not caused by poor parenting or lack of discipline. It can persist into adulthood, contrary to the myth that it only affects children. Recognized by major medical organizations, ADHD is a real disorder and not an excuse for laziness. Individuals with ADHD can achieve success in academic and professional realms with the right support. Treatment for ADHD is multifaceted, incorporating medication, behavioural interventions, psychoeducation, and counselling rather than relying solely on medication.

Learn more in our comprehensive post, “Myths About ADHD.”


Coping Strategies for Individuals with ADHD

Living with ADHD presents unique challenges, but numerous coping strategies can enhance daily functioning and improve overall well-being. Whether you are a parent supporting a child with ADHD or an adult managing the disorder, incorporating these strategies into daily life can make a significant difference:


1. Establishing Routines

Creating structured routines helps individuals with ADHD know what to expect and provides a sense of predictability. Consistent daily schedules for meals, sleep, and activities can be particularly beneficial.


2. Using Visual Aids

Visual aids, such as calendars, planners, and to-do lists, help individuals with ADHD organize tasks and manage time effectively. Visual reminders can serve as cues for upcoming events and deadlines.


3. Breaking Tasks into Smaller Steps

Breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps makes them less overwhelming. This approach facilitates better focus and increases the likelihood of task completion.


4. Implementing Organizational Tools

Utilizing organizational tools like labelled bins, colour-coded folders, and storage systems can help maintain order and reduce clutter. These tools are particularly helpful for individuals with ADHD who may struggle with disorganization.


5. Taking Regular Breaks

Incorporating short breaks during tasks can prevent burnout and improve overall focus. These breaks are especially important for tasks that require sustained attention.


6. Physical Exercise

Regular physical activity has been shown to improve attention and reduce hyperactivity. Walking, jogging, or sports can contribute to overall well-being.


7. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Practices such as mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises can help individuals with ADHD manage stress and improve self-regulation.


8. Seeking Social Support

Building a support network of understanding friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional and practical assistance. Sharing experiences with others who have ADHD can be particularly beneficial.


9. Setting Realistic Goals

Establishing realistic and achievable goals helps individuals with ADHD experience a sense of accomplishment. Celebrating small victories can contribute to a positive mindset.


10. Time Management Strategies

Learning and implementing effective time management strategies can enhance productivity, such as prioritizing tasks, using timers, and setting alarms.


11. Professional Support

Seeking guidance from mental health professionals, such as psychologists or counsellors, can provide additional coping strategies and emotional support. Therapy can also address any co-occurring emotional challenges.



Thrive's Counselling Room

Unlock your potential with Thrive Downtown Counselling Centre in Vancouver. We understand that ADHD is as unique as you are, with variations including inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined types. Our holistic approach combines behavioural interventions, psychoeducation, and medication to ensure accurate diagnosis and optimized outcomes.

At Thrive Downtown, we’re on a mission to dispel myths, foster a supportive environment, and provide personalized assistance for individuals grappling with ADHD. Whether you’re navigating challenges in academics, work, or social life, we offer practical tools, a supportive network, and customized diagnosis and treatment plans tailored to your needs.

Embark on your journey to success with Thrive Downtown. Contact us today and take the first step towards a life of fulfilment and well-being. Your path to thriving starts here!

Types of ADHD FAQs:

How can I distinguish between the different types of ADHD when searching for information?

When researching ADHD types, focus on understanding inattentive ADHD, characterized by difficulty sustaining attention; hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, marked by impulsivity and hyperactivity; and combined ADHD, which combines symptoms from both categories.

What are the best behavioral interventions for managing ADHD symptoms in children and adults?

Effective ADHD management in children and adults requires targeted behavioural interventions like behaviour therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and specialized parent training. Incorporating coping mechanisms such as organizational skills, self-control techniques, structured routines, and positive reinforcement is crucial for comprehensive symptom control.

How can parents and teachers support students with ADHD in an educational setting?

Learn about ADHD in school with insights on educational accommodations and practical tips for supporting students with ADHD. Create an inclusive learning environment that caters to the unique needs of students with ADHD.

Are there effective non-medication treatments for adult ADHD, and what role does psychotherapy play?

Explore non-medication treatments for adult ADHD and the role of psychotherapy for ADHD in adults. Uncover alternative options and counselling approaches that can be beneficial for managing adult ADHD symptoms without relying solely on medication. Learn how to manage ADHD without medication in our comprehensive post, “Manage ADHD without Medication.”

What are common myths about ADHD, and how can accurate information help reduce stigma?

Get rid of ADHD myths by seeking accurate information and understanding the importance of dispelling misconceptions about ADHD. Learn how precise information can contribute to reducing the stigma around ADHD and foster a more supportive and understanding community.