ADHD is a neuro-developmental psychiatric disorder, which causes problems with executive functioning, namely difficulties with attention, hyperactivity and/or impulsiveness, which is not appropriate to the persons age.
ADHD has three subtypes:

  • Predominantly inattentive type

  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type

  • Combined inattention and hyperactive impulsive type

(ADHD Foundation, 2014)
Children who are predominantly the inattentive subtype are usually quiet, may experience difficulties in mixing with others and keep to themselves but do not pay attention to what they are doing. This sub group are most likely to be overlooked in terms of obtaining a diagnosis of ADHD.


The effects of ADHD will vary from person to person depending which ADHD sub group they are diagnosed with, however, ADHD can create some common day to day problems, such as:

  • Being unorganised

  • Inappropriate social interactions

  • Poor handwriting

  • Difficulty in learning new information/skills

  • Poor time management

  • Delay in achieving developmental milestones

  • Difficulty in engaging with sport due to poor co-ordination

These difficulties can increase frustration and cause anger/aggression.


ADHD can present problems at home as well as at school, so the therapist would work closely with the child in both environments. Studies show that occupational therapy intervention in schools is essential to improving the child’s participation and engagement in learning (Bolic et al, 2014). The occupational therapist can help to improve cognitive and functional skills such as coordination, social skills, attention, organisation, handwriting and time management. The occupational therapist will also work closely with the family to provide them with the tools to help the child.

Occupational therapy is also a valid intervention for adults with ADHD to improve the range of activities available, enable decision making and find meaning in everyday activities (Ek & Isaksson, 2013).

ADHD Foundation. (2014). What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? Available at URL: https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk/whatisadhd.php

Bolic, V., Hellberg, K., Kjellberg, A. & Hemmingsson, H. (2014). Support in school and the transition to further education and/or work – young adults with Asperger’s Disorder and ADHD. 16th International Congress of the World Federation of Occupational: Sharing Traditions, Creating Futures.Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Division of Health, Activity and Care. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.

Ek, A. & Isaksson, G. (2013). How adults with ADHD get engaged in and perform everyday activities. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy. 20 (4).

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