Inattention & ADHD: Definition & Explanation

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Inattention is one of the three categories of symptoms related to Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Learn more about the different types of ADHD, inattention, how they are related, and more.

Problems Paying Attention

Imagine that you are a kid playing basketball with a group of friends. You manage to catch the ball and attempt a few shots during the game. You have not been keeping up with the score and you have no idea who is in the lead. At times, you pass the ball to the wrong teammate because you cannot concentrate enough to notice which players are open.

You notice a group of beautiful butterflies while you are waiting on a teammate to pass the ball, so you stop to look at the butterflies and miss the pass. While the team is on a one-minute time out, you get bored and decide to leave your basketball game and go to some other team's game that is being played on another court nearby. Your problems with paying attention to the basketball game, which teammates are open, and the score are signs of inattentiveness, which is a subtype of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Subtypes of ADHD

You are probably already somewhat familiar with ADHD. ADHD is a behavioral disorder that is defined by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness, or a mixture of the three. Hyperactive behaviors include fidgeting, the inability to sit in a desk for the duration of a class, and constantly running around the room. Hyperactive people are usually described as having too much energy. Impulsiveness includes being impatient, not waiting your turn, making quick decisions without thinking about the consequences (i.e. impulse shopping), and blurting out things without thinking.

It is important to remember that all children display some level of inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive behaviors. It is a normal part of childhood. However, children with ADHD experience these behaviors more often than their same-aged peers, and the behaviors are usually more serious. The three subtypes of ADHD are:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account