Most of the attention problems seen in children and adults are classified under the umbrella term, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD can have a variety of different symptoms and can be caused by many different cognitive, neurological, or physical problems. People diagnosed with attention problems may have difficulty focusing on tasks or remaining in control of themselves and may have a combination of these two primary symptoms. These problems may arise out of an inability to process information, control emotions, impulses or actions, or by a learning disability.
People who are diagnosed with ADHD related attention problems may have a variety of different symptoms. In one of the most common forms of this disorder, a person has a great deal of difficulty remaining calm and controlling impulses to move or speak. This type of attention problem can cause a person to interrupt others frequently, to fidget, or to abruptly change the subject in a conversation. Complex directions or long written or spoken passages may be difficult for people with these types of attention problems to follow because they find it difficult to remain still and focused on a single task or person.
There are also people diagnosed with ADHD who do not show signs of hyperactivity. People with these types of attention problems may readily lose focus while reading or listening. It is also usually hard for them to complete tasks. In some people, a diagnosis of ADHD will include symptoms from both the inattentive and the hyperactive forms of the disorder.
Attention problems may stem from a variety of conditions. Some people may have trouble processing visual or auditory information. People who cannot follow auditory information, for example, may be inattentive when instructions or information is given through this medium because they are unable to process this type of information quickly enough to make any sense out of what a person is trying to tell them. These same people may be perfectly able to follow written directions, leading outsiders to come to the false conclusion that they are willfully being inattentive.
It is also possible for a person to develop attention problems as a result of an emotional or psychological condition. People with these types of disorders may be preoccupied with their thoughts, making it difficult for them to pay attention to things that are happening around them. Physical damage to the brain can also cause other types of attention problems.