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Signs of ADHD in a 5-Year-Old: A Helpful Quiz

Recognising the symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in a 5-year-old can be both an intricate and sensitive process. At Oxford CBT, we’re committed to providing thorough and nuanced assessments that can pave the way for effective, evidence-based treatments. For a comprehensive overview of our ADHD assessment services, please visit our dedicated ADHD Testing and Diagnosis page.

In the following sections, we’ll delve into key questions that many parents find themselves asking when contemplating whether their child might have ADHD. We will address the similarities and differences between ADHD and autism, provide you with an ADHD checklist specifically designed for 5-year-olds, and offer separate insights for girls and boys.

Next, we’ll examine some fundamental questions that often arise: How do you know if your 5-year-old has ADHD, and how do you distinguish it from other conditions, such as autism?

How Do I Know If My 5-Year-Old Has ADHD?

Understanding whether your child is exhibiting signs of ADHD requires a detailed look into their behaviours, particularly as they compare to age-appropriate developmental milestones. At Oxford CBT, we offer structured assessments to aid in this discernment, helping parents to navigate what can be a complex landscape of symptoms and behaviours.

Does My 5-Year-Old Have ADHD or Autism?

While ADHD and autism are distinct conditions, they can often present overlapping symptoms, such as social difficulties or communication challenges. A comprehensive assessment is usually the best way to differentiate between the two. At Oxford CBT, our accredited therapists are well-equipped to perform these intricate evaluations, offering a nuanced understanding that guides future treatment plans.

Checklist ADHD symptoms in 5 year olds

Creating a checklist of symptoms can be immensely helpful in preparing for an assessment. Some common signs to look out for include restlessness, difficulties in focusing for extended periods, and impulsiveness. However, it’s crucial to remember that this checklist is only a guideline. A professional evaluation is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.

Here’s a checklist of ADHD symptoms commonly observed in 5-year-olds. Remember, this checklist serves as a guideline and should not replace professional evaluation. Oxford CBT offers comprehensive ADHD assessments conducted by accredited therapists to provide a detailed and nuanced diagnosis.

Attention Difficulties:

  • Trouble sustaining attention in tasks or play
  • Frequent careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
  • Fails to finish tasks or chores
  • Difficulty organising tasks and activities
  • Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort


  • Fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in seat
  • Inability to stay seated in classroom or other situations where it is expected
  • Running or climbing in inappropriate situations
  • Inability to play quietly
  • Always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor


  • Blurting out answers before questions are completed
  • Difficulty waiting one’s turn
  • Interrupting or intruding on others
  • Difficulty keeping emotions in check, resulting in sudden outbursts
  • Takes unnecessary risks or acts without thinking of the consequences

Social and Emotional:

  • Difficulty forming and maintaining friendships
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Sensitivity to criticism or other forms of negative feedback
  • Tends to act without considering others’ feelings or reactions

Other Indicators:

  • Frequent loss of items necessary for tasks and activities, like school materials or toys
  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities, such as forgetting to do chores or homework

If you find that several of these symptoms are present and causing difficulties in your child’s life, it may be beneficial to seek a professional diagnosis. Oxford CBT provides quick and flexible access to evidence-based evaluations, ensuring a thorough assessment tailored to your child’s individual needs.

ADHD Questionnaire for a 5-Year-Old Child

Questionnaires can offer additional insights into whether your child might have ADHD. These usually consist of targeted questions aimed at gauging the frequency and intensity of potential symptoms. These can be beneficial preliminary steps before undergoing a full assessment with Oxford CBT’s accredited therapists. Certainly, ADHD questionnaires for diagnosing 5-year-olds often involve a series of questions aimed at assessing behavioural patterns and symptoms. These questionnaires typically involve a Likert scale, where responses can range from “Never” to “Very Often.” Here are some sample questions that could appear on such a questionnaire:


1. How often does your child make careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities?

2. How often does your child have difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play?

3. How often does your child avoid or is reluctant to engage in tasks requiring sustained mental effort?

4. How often does your child lose things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils)?

5. How often is your child forgetful in daily activities?


1. How often does your child fidget with their hands or feet or squirm in their seat?

2. How often does your child leave their seat in situations where remaining seated is expected?

3. How often does your child run about or climb excessively in situations where it’s inappropriate?

4. How often is your child unable to play or engage in activities quietly?

5. How often does your child act as if “driven by a motor”?


1. How often does your child blurt out answers before questions have been completed?

2. How often does your child have difficulty waiting their turn?

3. How often does your child interrupt or intrude on others (e.g., interrupts conversations or games)?

4. How often does your child have difficulty keeping their emotions in check?

5. How often does your child take risks without considering the consequences?

Emotional and Social Aspects:

1. How often does your child have difficulty forming and maintaining friendships?

2. How often is your child overly sensitive to criticism?

3. How often does your child have emotional outbursts?

4. How often does your child have difficulty sharing or taking turns?

5. How often does your child interrupt others, either in conversation or play?

These are only sample questions and should not replace a formal assessment. Oxford CBT provides comprehensive evaluations for ADHD by accredited therapists, ensuring a nuanced understanding of each child’s symptoms and behaviours. Such a meticulous approach allows for more tailored treatment plans to be developed, underscoring our commitment to individual wellbeing.

In the next section, we’ll delve deeper into how ADHD symptoms may manifest differently in 5-year-old girls and boys. This will include what ADHD looks like in each gender, thereby providing a fuller understanding of this complex condition.

Does ADHD Look Different in Girls and Boys?

As we venture further into the landscape of ADHD, one of the most common enquiries centres around gender-specific manifestations of the condition. ADHD indeed presents differently in girls and boys, a factor that Oxford CBT takes into consideration when conducting assessments. Our approach acknowledges these variations, ensuring that each child receives an evaluation tailored to their unique set of symptoms. 

What Does ADHD Look Like in a 5-Year-Old Boy?

In boys, ADHD often manifests in ways that are more immediately noticeable, such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and difficulties in maintaining focus. They may exhibit more outward symptoms like fidgeting, interrupting conversations, or difficulty staying seated. This can sometimes lead to the misconception that ADHD is more prevalent in boys, whereas, in reality, it’s often just more overtly manifested.

What Does ADHD Look Like in a 5-Year-Old Girl?

In girls, ADHD symptoms can be subtler and are sometimes overlooked or misinterpreted. These can include difficulties in paying attention, being easily distracted, or struggling with organization. Girls may also demonstrate emotional sensitivities, such as becoming easily upset or overwhelmed. The subtlety of these symptoms can sometimes make ADHD in girls less immediately apparent, thus highlighting the importance of a nuanced assessment.

ADHD Test for a 5-Year-Old Girl

Girls may exhibit ADHD symptoms differently than boys, making a gender-sensitive approach beneficial. Symptoms in girls can often manifest as daydreaming, forgetfulness, or even verbal impulsiveness. Oxford CBT provides assessments that consider these gender-specific nuances, ensuring a more accurate evaluation.

ADHD symptoms can present differently in girls compared to boys, often leading to later or sometimes missed diagnoses in girls. Here’s a checklist tailored to common ADHD symptoms that may be observed in 5-year-old girls:

Symptoms Commonly Observed in 5-Year-Old Girls with ADHD:


  • Easily distracted, may seem to be daydreaming often
  • Difficulty in sustaining attention in tasks or play
  • Forgetfulness, even in daily activities
  • Frequently losing things like toys or school supplies
  • Avoids tasks requiring sustained concentration

Subtle Hyperactivity:

  • Talkativeness, often more verbal than physical
  • Restlessness, often described as being “on the go” but in a less obvious way compared to boys
  • Fidgeting, but often in a less conspicuous manner, such as playing with hair or objects quietly

Emotional Sensitivity:

  • Intense emotional reactions, such as excessive crying or frustration
  • Difficulty managing emotional responses, leading to mood swings
  • Lower frustration tolerance, easily overwhelmed
  • Sensitivity to criticism or conflict
  • May internalise feelings, leading to anxiety or depression

Social Difficulties:

  • Trouble maintaining friendships due to impulsivity or emotional sensitivity
  • May be described as “bossy” or “overbearing” in social interactions
  • May interrupt games or butt into conversations


  • Blurting out answers or inappropriate comments
  • May make quick decisions without considering consequences
  • Difficulty waiting her turn in activities or games

How and Why the Presentation Can Be Different:

Girls often exhibit ADHD symptoms in less overt ways than boys, making it more challenging for caregivers and educators to identify the condition.

Less Obvious Hyperactivity: Unlike boys, who may show hyperactivity through constant physical movement, girls may display verbal hyperactivity or more subdued forms of restlessness.

Internalisation of Symptoms: Girls are more likely to internalise their difficulties, leading to emotional symptoms like anxiety or depression, which can sometimes overshadow the ADHD symptoms.

Social Challenges: Social difficulties in girls may not manifest as aggressive or disruptive behaviour but could rather involve emotional sensitivity and difficulty sustaining friendships.

Subtle Signs of Inattentiveness: The inattentiveness in girls with ADHD may not manifest as careless mistakes in schoolwork but could present as forgetfulness, daydreaming, or avoidance of challenging tasks.

Because the presentation can be less obvious, it’s crucial for assessments to be thorough and nuanced. At Oxford CBT, our accredited therapists are trained in recognising these gender-specific nuances in ADHD symptoms, thereby ensuring a more accurate and comprehensive diagnosis.

Oxford CBT’s commitment to evidence-based, gender-sensitive evaluations ensures that every child is given the appropriate attention and care they deserve. Our accredited therapists are trained in recognising the distinct ways in which ADHD can manifest across genders.


The journey to identifying ADHD in a 5-year-old child can be fraught with complexities and uncertainties. Each child is unique, and the manifestations of ADHD can vary widely, particularly when considering gender-specific symptoms. Oxford CBT, in line with our ethos of comprehensive, evidence-based assessments, is dedicated to aiding parents and caregivers through this intricate process.

Our accredited therapists offer swift and flexible access to evaluations that consider the unique aspects of each child’s condition. By focusing on gender-sensitive approaches and adhering to our commitment to your child’s wellbeing, we aspire to provide a seamless and thorough evaluation process.

Understanding the signs of ADHD is crucial not just for diagnosis but for long-term wellbeing. By recognising the nuances in symptoms between girls and boys, we ensure a more accurate diagnosis, which in turn opens the door to more effective treatment options. It’s this level of care and detail that exemplifies Oxford CBT’s unwavering commitment to the individuals and communities we serve.

Thank you for entrusting Oxford CBT with your mental health needs and those of your child. We are here to provide the resources and support necessary to navigate the complexities of ADHD diagnosis and treatment.

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