5 Signs of Inattentive ADHD (ADD)

Disclaimer. This article is for educational purposes. Do not attempt to self-diagnose using this article as your means of diagnosis. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the symptoms discussed in this article, please reach out to a licensed medical health professional. 

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a behavioral syndrome with characteristics of inattention and impulsivity. These symptoms typically persist for six months or longer. According to the CDC, as of 2016, approximately 9.4% of children ages 2-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD nationwide. Though usually diagnosed during childhood, ADHD can affect adults, about 4% of the American population. 

ADHD is a general label that houses three different types: hyperactive, inattentive, or combined. These separate terms refer to how the symptoms manifest themselves.

While ADHD is predominantly present among males, females are usually diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. Most people associate ADHD with a hyperactive student running about a classroom. Inattentive ADHD can be associated with the student who stares at the window and unwittingly ignores the work in front of them. 

Below are five different ways inattentive ADHD manifest itself. 

  • Often daydreaming or is easily distracted. 

ADHD is typically associated with hyperactivity. It would be stigmatizing and incorrect to assume that people with ADHD do not have moments of inactivity. However, inactivity is a predominant characteristic of inattentive ADHD. Those with an inattentive form of ADHD exhibit inactivity, which, at times, is misinterpreted as tranquility. However, their inattentiveness is not something they can control, and it is usually a byproduct of a lack of focus.  

This symptom can become problematic when it comes to doing school work. Among children, this symptom manifests itself in a classroom setting as the child will have trouble committing to an activity for an extended time or not paying attention when spoken to. In adults, this sign manifests itself the same way as it does in children. 

  • Is bored quickly 

Another symptom is getting bored quickly. Boredom itself is not a sign of a neurobehavioral disorder. In many cases, it means that your brain needs more mental stimulation. However, in the context of ADHD, frequent bouts of boredom can point to difficulty sustaining mental effort.  

Overstimulating environments or activities can produce a sense of boredom because the constant barrage of stimuli can cause your brain to feel overwhelmed. Hence, it shuts down or becomes bored as a response. 

  •  Does not pay close attention or is careless.

Not paying close attention to details may be another sign of inattentive ADHD. Someone with an inattentive type may overlook details, and as a result, make careless mistakes. This symptom can affect productivity or quality of work. Unfortunately, these small mistakes may lead others to believe that you are not serious about the tasks, and therefore they may feel hesitant to assign you work. 

In a child, this symptom may present itself during exams. The child may skip entire sections of a quiz, even if they know the answer. For an adult, it presents itself similarly–failing to proofread documents or emails before sending them. 

If you find yourself struggling with this symptom, try telling yourself to slow down. It might make you feel uncomfortable because your brain wants to jump to the next thing, but try challenging yourself to spend a little bit longer. 

  • Forgets routine chores

Like most symptoms on this list, this one too deals with an inability to focus. For someone with inattentive ADHD, their mind runs a thousand miles a minute, so it is natural to forget certain things along the way. Unfortunately, forgetfulness is seen as laziness. 

This symptom can present a struggle in school or work environments as tasks may occasionally slip through. 

If this symptom is something that you struggle with frequently, reach out to a trusted friend or supervisor to let them know what is going on. Also, reach out to a therapist. They may help you create a plan that will make it easier to remember chores or tasks. Once you finish the task, treat yourself! It incentivizes your brain to continue with a routine. 

  • Avoids tasks that require focus. 

A final sign of inattentive ADHD is avoidance of tasks that require focus. This symptom is a bit self-explanatory. Many people with ADHD experience difficulty controlling their focus, so it should not be a surprise that some tend to avoid tasks that require a lot of it. 

But, I do not want to generalize and say that this applies to everyone with ADHD. Also, even if it does apply to you, your will and desire to do what you want to do will eventually win out. 

To help yourself, try breaking up large tasks into smaller ones. Yes, I am sure you have heard this piece of advice often, and perhaps it seems unnecessary to state it again. But, breaking down a task can be helpful as it makes the thing seem more doable. To help you go through with the chore, try coming up with something that works for you. Maybe it’s having a friend or family member send you reminder texts, or incentivizing yourself to do it. Find something that suits you. Reach out to a therapist if you need more assistance. 

I hope this article was educational and informative. If you feel that this article described some of the things you may be struggling with, please reach out to a licensed professional for assistance and guidance. 

Take care! 


CDC. (2020, November 16). Data and statistics about adhd. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html#. 

Cleveland Clinic medical staff. (2019, September 25). Adhd inattentive type in adults: Symptoms, diagnosis & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15253-attention-deficit-disorder-without-hyperactivity-add-in-adults. 

Heshmat , S. (2017, June 16). Eight reasons why we get bored. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201706/eight-reasons-why-we-get-bored. 

Holland, K. (2018, July 23). Adhd by the numbers: Facts, statistics, and you. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/facts-statistics-infographic#demographics. 

Hill Learning Center. (2019, May 22). News. Hill Learning Center. https://www.hillcenter.org/symptoms-of-inattentive-adhd/. 

Roth, E. (2019, January 28). Understanding adhd inattentive type. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/inattentive-type. 

Watson, S. (2020, July 13). Adhd inattentive type: Adhd pi symptoms, causes and treatment. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/adhd-inattentive-type. 

Williams, P. (2021, May 6). What are the 3 types of adhd? ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/3-types-of-adhd/. 

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  1. Hello Psych2Go!
    I enjoyed this article because it addressed a disorder that I have myself.
    I would like to suggest that your team make a few more videos on ADHD/ADD/ASD, going a little more in depth as to how brains with these disorders work and how people with these disorders interact with others and think differently than neurotypicals.
    I believe the more information on the topic that’s available to the general population, the better! As a lot of neurotypicals don’t understand people with these disorders, and vice versa, and it can lead to conflicting situations and misunderstandings.
    Everyone should know that even though people with ADHD/ADD/ASD think and behave a bit different than everyone else, we’re still people who have interests, skills, and feel emotions just like everyone else.
    Thank you for reading my response, and I look forward to your future videos!



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