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Attention Deficit Disorder - ADD

ADD is often confused with ADHD. Although similar, Attention Deficit Disorder - ADD is different than Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD. This article helps define Attention Deficit Disorder and how it is associated with AD/HD. Learn the ADD symptoms and criteria for diagnosis.

Introduction to Attention Deficit Disorder ADD

Attention Deficit Disorder, abbreviated ADD, is a term that was formerly quite common. However, the disorder that it refers to has been reconceived as a subcategory of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, abbreviated ADD.

The slash in the name Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is meant to convey that there are multiple types, either more characterized by the loss of attention or characterized by hyperactivity. One reason that people may be continuing to use the ADD tag is that without the slash, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder makes it seem that hyperactivity is a central and essential component. So the use of the slash is important in showing a proper understanding of the disorder, acknowledging that hyperactivity is not a symptom of all of the manifestations.

How Attention Deficit Disorder Fits into the AD/HD Definition

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is now conceived of as comprising at least three distinguishable types referred to in the DSM-IV TR (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision). They are:

To understand where ADD fits it, it is important to know that AD/HD has three key classes of symptoms: symptoms of inattention; symptoms of hyperactivity; and symptoms of impulsivity.

The combined subtype is the diagnosis given to people who have symptoms that fit into all three categories: hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive. The predominantly hyperactive-impulsive subtype is the diagnosis given to people who have symptoms that fit in the hyperactivity and impulsivity categories. And the predominantly inattentive subtype is the diagnosis given to people who used to be diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder, and they only exhibit symptoms in the area of inattention,

ADD Symptoms

Diagnosis of ADD can only be made by a health care professional, but it can be useful to have an idea of the symptoms in order to help tell whether behavior is developmentally appropriate or not. To diagnose ADD, a person must exhibit six of a set of 9 inattention symptoms for at least six months, and to an extent that is not developmentally appropriate and to a degree that functioning is impaired. The symptoms are (in paraphrased version):

  1. Frequently fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
  2. Frequently has trouble maintaining attention, whether doing tasks or playing.
  3. Frequently seems not to listen when being directly addressed in speech.
  4. Frequently fails to follow through, whether in completing schoolwork, finishing chores, or working, but not due to an attitude of defiance or a lack of understanding of what was required.
  5. Frequently has trouble organizing undertakings.
  6. When faced with tasks that require ongoing mental effort, either avoids them or shows dislike for them.
  7. Frequently loses important items necessary to carry out assignments, tasks, etc.
  8. Frequently is easily distracted.
  9. Frequently forgetful in activities that occur every day.

In addition, at least some symptoms must have been present prior to age 7, and some must be present in at least two settings (setting referring to home, school, or work, for example). Finally, the symptoms must not be better accounted for by some other disorder.

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