The Difference Between ADD and ADHD: Believe it or Not, There is None

difference between add and adhd 03 imgWhen you think of a child with ADHD, most likely you think of Junior’s incessant interrupting, or him diving into a pool of peaceful peers playing “Go Fish.” But when healthcare providers tell some parents that their well-behaved child has ADHD, the parents may scratch their heads and wonder:  Does my child have ADHDWhat are ADHD symptoms in toddlers and did my child’s doctor give my child a misdiagnosis of ADHD

The truth is that ADHD in young children can manifest differently. The difference between ADD and ADHD is indeed the “H”, which stands for “hyperactivity”. In reality, ADD is no longer a formal diagnosis.  It is an old term used to describe a child who has difficulty paying attention or organizing, but is not hyperactive.  The manual used to diagnose this condition in a child now only has one term, which always includes the “H”. But even with the “H” in the title, a child may have no hyperactive symptoms.  The attention deficit disorder definition includes the child having predominantly either hyperactive or inattentive symptoms, or both.  Hyperactive symptoms remain pretty self-explanatory, and include:

  • Having difficulty sitting still, fidgeting and squirming
  • Being in constant motion
  • Talking non-stop
  • Intruding on others’ personal space
  • Having difficulty completing tasks that require quiet and concentration

Another possible hyperactive symptom is impulsivity.  Impulsivity may be characterized by:

  • Impatience
  • Blurting out inappropriate comments or constant interrupting
  • Having difficulty waiting turns

With much contrast, children with the inattentive type of ADHD, which some people still refer to as ADD, remain easily distracted, often forget or lose things, have trouble focusing on one thing, and often get easily bored quickly. Additional inattentive symptoms include: 

  • Having difficulty completing assignments
  • Doesn’t seem to be listening
  • Daydreaming and moving slowly
  • Does not follow direction well

Most of the time, adults and even children can tell the difference between ADD and ADHD in a child, simply by observing his or her behaviors. Many children have symptoms in both the “hyperactive” and the “inattentive” categories.  It’s important to note that children may carry ADHD into adulthood, and so adults may also suffer from like symptoms. Your healthcare provider may first give you and your child’s teacher an ADHD rating scale to complete to determine if ADHD medicine is warranted, or to tell the difference between ADD and ADHD in your child by looking at the symptoms he or she exhibits. The good news is that ADHD in young children (and in adults) is quite treatable. ADHD medicine may help, as well as behavioral strategies that can reduce ADHD symptoms.  Your child’s doctor may prescribe ADHD medication treatment to help quell symptoms, and even if you can’t tell the difference between ADD and ADHD, there’s still hope for Junior… the treatment for either form of ADHD is relatively the same!

Further Reading:

  1. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/what-are-the-symptoms-of-adhd-in-children.shtml
  2. https://www.msu.edu/course/cep/888/%20files/DSM-IV.htm

Originally posted 2013-01-05 11:13:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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