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Understanding Autism, OCD and ADHD - Advice for Parents & Carers

Ten Point Observation List On ADHD Behaviour

16 January 2024

Identifying signs of ADHD involves observing behavioural nuances. Understanding these signs is crucial for early detection and tailored support, enabling a more compassionate and effective approach to address the challenges children and young people experience. Here are 10 symptoms of ADHD and how to recognise these.

Eye contact

Avoiding eye contact is a sign of ADHD – your child may look as if they are ignoring you, but some find making eye contact really difficult.


Not standing or sitting still or fiddling with something while you are talking with them, i.e. toys, cushions, etc., does not mean they are not taking in what you are saying to them; they will be. If you are unsure, ask them to repeat what you have just said to ensure understanding has taken place. 


Avoidance of work can be sign of ADHD behaviour. They may not know what to do or what you want from them, so rather than fail, they won’t do it. Sometimes, children and young people with ADHD prefer to be told off rather than to get work done wrong and be perceived as ‘stupid’. Getting started or completing a task may be due to the inability to direct their focus and not because they just can’t be bothered or are lazy.

Inappropriate Behaviour

Children and young people with ADHD have difficulty with understanding inappropriate behaviour, i.e. burping in class and other uncontrollable noises: they see these things as being funny and socially acceptable. They also tend to make inappropriate remarks, i.e. “Why have you got a hole in your sock?” They say what they see; they have difficulty reading social cues.


Children and young people with ADHD make no connection between behaviour and consequences. If you point out a behaviour issue to your child, they may acknowledge it and be very sorry for what they have done, but five minutes later, they may do the very same thing again. Lack of executive functioning (analysing, problem-solving and understanding the sequence of actions and consequences) results in impulsive and unconsidered behaviours.


Not paying attention or being distracted by other events that are going on outside/inside is a adhd sympton. It is not that your child or young person is ‘not’ paying attention; it is more likely that they are paying too much attention to everything and not focusing on just one thing.

Negative Self-esteem

Personal experiences of not being able to understand instructions clearly, forgetting instructions or information, and using impulsive words and actions all have social consequences. Children and young people with ADHD can easily become frustrated at their own inability to understand and communicate with others. This results in feelings of isolation and exclusion from recognition, praise, reward and affection from adults and thier classmates. This, in turn, creates anxiety, which exacerbates ADHD characteristics. Inevitably, this causes behavioural problems for children and young people with ADHD who are unable to articulate what they feel. 

Being The Class Clown

Trying to make people laugh and cause disruption (possibly due to work avoidance) is common in a child or young person with ADHD. This can also be a tactic to build friendships by making their classmates laugh and create a sense of belonging. 

Waiting Turns

Children and young people with ADHD find waiting turns, either in queues or in group work, difficult; they act and speak without thinking. This is the impulsivity of ADHD. They may be clumsy or accident-prone, breaking things and accidentally hurting others.

Rule Breaking

Children and young people with ADHD will test out rules and structure; they need to know that they are there and this is not them being defiant.  They need boundaries, and they need to know how far they can go. They can struggle to understand boundaries as they have poor social observations.

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