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ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
(ADD)

(formerly referred to as ADHD)

ADD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, which is frequently misunderstood and under-diagnosed.  It affects the brain’s executive functioning, which controls an individual’s ability to concentrate and self-regulate behaviours. 

Students in preschool to Grade 2 may:

  • have difficulty following directions, like “put on your backpack” 

  • fidget, move around or talk during quiet activities 

  • try to do things too quickly and without care/attention (like writing a word or pouring cereal into a bowl) 

  • take things without permission 

  • have difficulties remembering things the teacher just taught or said, have a low working memory 

  • demonstrate disproportionate emotional responses to minor issues. 

Students in Grade 3 - 7 may exhibit:

  • procrastination 

  • rushing through schoolwork  

  • submission of messy work with careless mistakes 

  • slower rate of work and/or not finishing in a reasonable amount of time 

  • attention-seeking behaviours  

  • restlessness during excursions if they’re not very interesting 

  • impulsive behaviours 

  • difficulties following directions with more than one step. 

Teenagers and adults may experience:

  • trouble setting priorities, affecting completion of tasks 

  • forgetting to write down assignments or keep track of deadlines 

  • “zoning out” and needing to re-read information or ask people to repeat what they’ve said 

  • distraction from tasks they deem uninteresting 

  • difficulty maintaining relationships 

  • risk-taking behaviours without thinking about consequences. 

 

Gender specific signs and symptoms

While ADHD is equally common across genders, girls are typically diagnosed less frequently, often as a result of their ability to "mask"; tempering responses learned through observing social behaviours exhibited by neurotypical peers (similar to girls with ASD). 

  

Girls are more likely to present as "daydreamers" (inattentive), while behaviours exhibited by boys are largely more energetic (hyperactive). 

 

Girls may:

  • appear shy or withdrawn 

  • become upset or cry easily  

  • daydream, or have difficulty maintaining focus 

  • appear disorganised and messy (in both appearance and physical space) 

  • seem unmotivated or forgetful 

  • be highly sensitive to emotions/certain fabrics/noise 

  • hyper-talkative (verbally impulsive) or hyper-reactive (exaggerated emotional response) 

 

Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to present with behaviours such as:

  • running and shouting when playing, even indoors 

  • playing too roughly 

  • bumping into people and things 

  • constantly moving, even when seated 

  • be perceived as overly sensitive or emotional 

  • compensate for perceived weakness by demonstrating perfectionism in other areas 

  • be mistaken for being lazy when struggling to remain focused  

  • struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of failure and shame. 

 

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