Understanding Inattentive Type ADHD from Symptoms to Treatment

in Blog

Inattentive type ADHD is just one way ADHD is diagnosed in individuals. ADHD doesn't always appear the same way in every person. In fact, part of answering the question, does my child have ADHD, should involve understanding which type of ADHD they may have.

The three main variations of ADHD include:

  • Inattentive type ADHD – This variant of ADHD has a tendency towards being easily distracted. People with this type of ADHD have greater difficulty with organization and staying on task. Additionally, this type of ADHD typically has issues with communication.
  • Hyperactive-impulsive type ADHDThis type of ADHD differs from the first in that most people with it do not struggle with distraction or inattention. Rather the focus with this type falls primarily on hyperactive outbursts. People with this type tend to move quickly from one thing to another, have trouble sitting still, and act impulsively.
  • Combined type ADHD – Understandably, this type of ADHD occurs most frequently as it incorporates symptoms of both of the previous types. Doctors diagnose this type as opposed to the other two when they can identify at least six symptoms of each type in an individual.

Knowing you or your child has ADHD starts your process towards managing ADHD symptoms. Step two involves identifying the specific type. From there, you need to find ways to incorporate behavior management strategies to help manage that specific type.

In this article, we want to look more in depth at inattentive type ADHD. Understanding inattentive type ADHD can be important as many parents might mistake this type of ADHD for a learning disability. Additionally, since this type does not show the hyperactive characteristics normally associated with ADHD, many people can miss the symptoms altogether. Unfortunately, missing inattentive type ADHD results in it often not being diagnosed or treated correctly.

In this post, we want to look at the symptoms of inattentive type ADHD. We then break down specifically how to best approach its management. Ultimately, we hope to provide you with some resources to properly identify ADHD and manage it best.

Symptoms of Inattentive Type ADHD

Just as there exist different types of ADHD, doctors see different symptoms of ADHD, as well. After all, the different symptoms help doctors and other professionals identify which type of ADHD to diagnose. To know if you have a child with inattentive type ADHD, or perhaps if you have it yourself, you need to look for certain key symptoms.

You can divide the main symptoms of inattentive type ADHD into the three broad categories of easy distraction, poor communication skills, and poor organizational ability. Let’s look at each of these broad categories more in depth.

Easy distraction

People with inattentive type ADHD tend to be easily distracted, hence the inattentive part. In fact, this symptom might present itself first. Ultimately, inattention plays a major role in the symptoms of ADHD, particularly when diagnosing ADHD in school aged children.

Oftentimes, parents and teachers see easy distraction or inattention typically in the classroom setting first. The classroom setting pulls this characteristic out for a number of reasons. First, children with inattentive type ADHD simply don’t engage well in group and classroom settings. Secondly, they seem to not listen or engage with anyone telling them to do something. Finally, they typically struggle with following directions, as well.

If you see these things on a regular basis, it could be that your child is bored. However, it could also point to a larger issue of inattentive type ADHD. If your child struggles to engage with homework, follow directions, listen to instructions, and becomes easily distracted, make a note and consult with a doctor on what you see.

Poor communication skills

In addition to being easily distracted, people with inattentive type ADHD often have difficulty connecting and usually have communication problems with others. Many times this difficulty with communicating can even appear as a shyness, making others believe them to be introverted. Again, many people fail to associate shyness and introverted behavior with ADHD so these characteristics tend to go unnoticed as part of inattentive type ADHD. In fact, some people might even see ADHD and introversion as polar opposites or having both, an oxymoron.

Rather, the reality of inattentive type ADHD means that a person can in fact both have ADHD and be very introverted and introspective. Oftentimes their minds focus more inwardly than outwardly. As a result, they often do appear more self-reflective than outwardly engaging.

Additionally, many people with inattentive type ADHD appear to not appreciate others in social settings when really the problem might be they simply don’t follow or understand the social interactions themselves.

Their tendency to be easily distracted makes it difficult for them to follow conversations and engage with others. This difficulty engaging can cause confusion when others get offended by their actions. As a result, many times people with ADHD either withdraw or give up on making social connections.

A child may show shyness simply as part of their personality. If, however, you see your child withdraw or get confused in social settings, you might look for further clues of ADHD.

Poor organizational ability

Finally, people diagnosed with inattentive type ADHD usually have very poor organizational ability. Again, this points back to the person’s difficulty with following the natural flow of things.

The ADHD brain thinks and processes information very differently from the person without ADHD. As a result, the person with ADHD may struggle to grasp normal categories of organization. Their mind simply does not process information in the way that makes regular organization easy.

Principally, individuals with inattentive type ADHD struggle with organization due to low executive brain function. People with ADHD naturally lack the processing ability to see the bigger organizational goal. Additionally, they fail to see how all the pieces fit into place. Finally, they usually struggle with following through, so goals of organization fall apart quickly.

Again, many children in general might first appear to struggle with organization. Therefore, a general lack of organization on its own might not indicate ADHD. However, if you see low organizational ability coupled with some of the other symptoms already discussed, this could point to an instance of inattentive type ADHD.

Behavioral Management for Inattentive Type ADHD

Now that we have covered many of the symptoms of inattentive type ADHD, we want to look at ways to try to address and manage the symptoms. For a parent with an ADHD child, behavioral management most likely already plays a pivotal role in your ADHD comprehensive treatment plan.

Behavioral management typically has a few different layers. First, you have the home environment and how your child behaves in the home setting. Secondly, you have the community environment, most prominently the school setting. To approach behavioral management effectively you want to work on a plan for both of these settings.

Behavioral management in the home

In the home, you want to address inattentive type ADHD by helping your child focus better and build organization management tools. To increase focus, try to limit distractions when you need your child to pay attention or follow directions.

Additionally, if you find your child struggles to follow directions, try providing directions in different ways. For instance, make sure you engage their specific learning style to help them stay on track. To help with organization, consider using some organizational strategies specifically for ADHD. Work with your child to help build their organizational processing over time.

Behavioral management at school

To work on behavioral management at school you need to start with having a conversation about ADHD with your child’s teacher. As the parent, you can’t physically be present in the classroom. This means that you need to work with your child’s teacher to build a strategy that they can help implement when you aren’t around.

Additionally, you need to find ways to help keep your child focused in the classroom that fits their personality type. Ask your child’s teacher to allow your child to use fidget toys or other items if it helps them focus better. Furthermore, ask your child’s teacher to help your child with social interactions and connecting with other kids better.

Finally, if your child’s teacher has little experience with addressing ADHD, work with them to help them gain experience and tools. Connect them with online resources that provide strategies for the classroom such as the tips at this link.

Behavioral management in the school setting takes a team effort. Work with your child’s teacher to make sure you have the best shot with whatever strategies you try to put into place.

Supplements and Medication for Inattentive Type ADHD

As we have written about before, many times behavioral management alone isn’t enough to help manage ADHD. Along with behavioral management, many people need further intervention through either supplements or medication or both. Let’s now look both at supplements and medication and how they can further help management of inattentive type ADHD symptoms.


Many times, the world of ADHD supplements might feel overwhelming. Everywhere you turn, there seems to be another supplement or “herbal solution” available. Sorting through all the supplement options can feel daunting. Where do you even begin?

Like with most things, you start with research. We recommend getting as much information as you possibly can about supplements and treating ADHD before diving in completely. Work to become your own ADHD expert. Use our articles and other great online resources as guides.

When it comes to supplements, though, and inattentive type ADHD, we highly recommend looking first to Omega-3 supplement options. Some recent studies have shown that Omega-3 supplements help to specifically improve inattention in people with ADHD. Omega-3s provided essential fatty acids that help executive brain function. These benefits help limit some of the distractions for individuals with ADHD, providing them better focus and engagement with their surroundings.

Taking all of this into consideration, you still want to do more than just take a supplement. Supplements work best when used in conjunction with behavior management and other ADHD management strategies. Supplement use, though, should play a part in how you approach inattentive type ADHD and how you manage its symptoms.

Prescription medication

Many parents might want to steer clear of prescription medication for ADHD treatment. This feeling is understandable. Any medication naturally comes with the possibility of negative side effects. No matter how mild, negative side effects cause worry and trepidation.

Before you dismiss mediation altogether, though, you should at the very least weigh the pros and cons for your situation. If you haven’t considered medication, however, in spite of potential side effects, there are many reasons why you should consider it. For instance, medication can provide symptom relief where other methods such as behavior modification have failed.

Typically the prescription medication option for inattentive type ADHD follows that of the other forms of ADHD. This usually involves the use of a stimulant medication that aims primarily to lower inattention and increase focus. Deciding which medication to take and when and how much you should take, though, should all be done under guidance from your doctor.

As we mentioned prior, many times inattentive type ADHD goes undiagnosed and untreated. This situation can cause problems with self-medication. If you have identified inattentive type ADHD in your child make sure to treat it as comprehensively as you can using medication if it works. Taking this approach cuts off self-medication before it begins.

Address Your Inattentive Type ADHD Appropriately

Fully understanding ADHD takes time and research. ADHD doesn’t always seem to follow set rules. You might think you know what ADHD looks and acts like until you see it in your own child and family. Then you might find yourself caught off guard by the variety of symptoms and approaches to ADHD.

In this post, we wanted to help pull the veil back on one prominent form of ADHD: inattentive type ADHD. While not everyone might struggle with symptoms of this type, many people do, and you might find yourself facing some of its effects. We hope this article helps provide you tools to both identify inattentive type ADHD and implement how to manage and address it appropriately.

Addressing ADHD appropriately should be your ultimate goal, whether you have inattentive type ADHD or not. Here at FastBraiin, our desire is to provide you the tools you need to manage your ADHD symptoms appropriately. Whether you want help with parenting tips for managing ADHD in children or want more ADHD strategies for organization, we want to help get you the resources you need. Check out more of our resources to find out more on these topics and others.