ADD or ADHD?
Many people use these terms interchangeably! Though, ADD was the diagnosis typically given when a child exhibited concerns of inattention, but did not have concerns related to hyperactivity or impulsivity.
Now, this term is considered outdated. ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. This can be confusing for parents as this is the diagnosis used, regardless of whether your child has difficulties with hyperactivity.
What are the three types of ADHD?
Psychologists will highlight the areas of difficulty by diagnosing the type of presentation:
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation (previously defined as ADD)
- Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation
- Combined Presentation (people who have difficulties with both inattention and hyperactivity)
What are signs and symptoms of inattention?
- Do you find yourself giving directions over and over to your child?
- Does your child often lose or misplace things?
- Does your child often appear to be daydreaming?
- Is your child forgetful?
People diagnosed with the inattentive presentation are often easily distracted and have poor attention to tasks. They may also have difficulties with executive functioning skills such as prioritizing, organizing, and initiating tasks.
What are signs and symptoms of hyperactivity?
- Does your child have difficulty sitting still?
- Does your child often interrupt others during conversations?
- Is your child often getting out of his or her seat?
- Does your child blurt out answers in class?
People diagnosed with the hyperactive presentation typically are always moving and seem to have endless amounts of energy. They also may have difficulties with impulse control.
How do I know if my child meets criteria for ADHD?
Unfortunately, there is no simple test for ADHD.
Typically, a diagnosis is made from a formal interview and checklists given to parents and teachers. We expect a child to struggle with some of these symptoms occasionally, but a diagnosis is made when these symptoms occur often, in multiple settings.
ADHD can often look similar to other diagnoses.
For instance, when children have learning disorders, it may seem that they are not paying attention. It may appear that they are making ‘careless mistakes.’
If a child has severe anxiety, it may affect the child’s concentration and quality of work. For this reason, more formal testing may be warranted.
A comprehensive evaluation or formal ADHD testing will often include a thorough assessment of a child’s IQ, academic functioning, executive functioning skills, and rating scales looking at your child’s social, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. By doing this type of evaluation, we can determine if there are other issues that may be contributing to the symptoms observed.