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Symptoms of ADD and ADHD

Jul 02, 2014

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are disorders that affect the neurology of the brain. Individuals with either condition display a marked impairment in their ability to remain focused on tasks, completing schoolwork, interacting socially, and following through on activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing.

The key difference between ADD and ADHD is the presence of the hyperactivity component in the latter. Children with ADHD become quickly noticeable to their teachers because they often display rambunctious behavior and are quite restless in the classroom. On the other hand, children with ADD are usually not disruptive in their classrooms nor are they overly energetic. They may even appear shy and self-absorbed.

Prior to 1994, ADD was a separate diagnosis from ADHD. According to child psychologist Dr. Allison Kawa, ADD is regarded as a subtype of one of the three forms of ADHD, primarily ADHD with Inattentiveness. The other subtypes of ADHD include Hyperactive-Impulsive and Combined or Hyperactive-Impulsive-Inattentive.

Symptoms of Hyperactive-Impulsive subtype of ADHD

Children with this subtype of ADHD are diagnosed at a much younger age than the other subtypes. They may display symptoms such as:

  • Inability to take turns in the classroom
  • Has difficulty with quiet activities
  • Fidgets and moves constantly
  • Speaks excessively
  • Displays a quick temper
  • Frequently leaves his or her seat
  • Constantly interrupts others
  • May intrude on others’ conversations or games
  • Blurts out the answers in class without being called upon
  • Offers guesses instead of taking the time to solve a problem

Symptoms of Inattentive subtype of ADHD

Children with inattentive symptoms have difficulty remaining focused and putting in the necessary effort to complete schoolwork. As the amount of life management and schoolwork increases, their inability to remain organized becomes noticeable. According to psychiatrist and ADHD specialist Dr. Edward Hallowell, girls are more likely to have this subtype of ADHD. Since the symptoms and signs of this subtype do not cause disruption or harm to others, children with this subtype are often ignored. Children with the inattentive subtype of ADHD show:

  • Poor organizational skills
  • Become easily bored
  • Day dream frequently
  • Struggle with following instructions
  • Are slower in processing information
  • Difficulty completing homework
  • Cannot sustain attention for long periods time
  • Misplace objects that may be required to complete assignments such as toys, study aids, learning tools, etc.

Children who are diagnosed with Combined ADHD display symptoms from the previous two subtypes.

The symptoms of ADHD often manifest themselves as impairments across various parameters such as emotional and social interactions, language, reading, arithmetic, and writing. ADHD symptoms may also mimic other medical conditions, which is why it is extremely important that parents seek an appropriate educational assessment and a comprehensive medical evaluation.

It is also important to note that the treatment of ADHD will not cure the disorder, but it can significantly reduce the symptoms. Treatment options may include prescription medications, behavior management, supported education, and psychotherapy. 


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My nephew has ADD and these are the symptoms we first started noticing in him before he was diagnosed. He is going so much better both at home and at school now that they know what is wrong and how to handle it. Love the article!

I have twin girls and one of them seems more hyperactive than the other and I've been wondering about this recently. I'm definitely going to talk with their doctor about it at their next appointment to see if this is a real issue or not.

Our son was diagnosed with ADHD and ever since then things have been a lot easier. He has started to do much better in school and seems a lot happier.

I would strongly suggest making an appointment with your doctor if you are unsure because it could be something different like Asperger's

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