Hyperactivity

ADAM Health 2 minute read November 4, 2019

Activity – increased; Hyperkinetic behaviour

Hyperactivity means having increased movement, impulsive actions, and a shorter attention span, and being easily distracted.


Considerations

Hyperactive behaviour usually refers to constant activity, being easily distracted, impulsiveness, inability to concentrate, aggressiveness, and similar behaviours.

Typical behaviours may include:

  • Fidgeting or constant moving
  • Wandering
  • Talking too much
  • Difficulty participating in quiet activities (such as reading)

Hyperactivity is not easily defined. It often depends on the observer. Behaviour that seems excessive to one person may not seem excessive to another. But certain children, when compared to others, are clearly far more active. This can become a problem if it interferes with school work or making friends.

Hyperactivity is often considered more of a problem for schools and parents than it is for the child. But many hyperactive children are unhappy, or even depressed. Hyperactive behaviour may make a child a target for bullying, or make it harder to connect with other children. Schoolwork may be more difficult. Kids who are hyperactive are frequently punished for their behaviour.

Excessive movement (hyperkinetic behaviour) often decreases as the child grows older. It may disappear entirely by adolescence.


Causes

Conditions that may lead to hyperactivity include:


Home Care

A child who is normally very active often responds well to specific directions and a program of regular physical activity. But, a child with a ADHD has a hard time following directions and controlling impulses.


When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your child’s health care provider if:

  • Your child seems hyperactive all the time.
  • Your child is very active, aggressive, impulsive, and has difficulty concentrating.
  • Your child’s activity level is causing social difficulties, or difficulty with schoolwork.


What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will perform a physical exam of your child and ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. Examples of questions include whether the behaviour is new, if your child has always been very active, and whether the behaviour is getting worse.

The provider may recommend a psychological evaluation. There may also be a review of the home and school environments.

References

Bostic JQ, Prince JB, Buxton DC. Child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 69.

Walter HJ, DeMaso DR. Assessment and interviewing. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 20.

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