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Is it ADD or ADHD?

The terms ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are often used interchangeably, causing confusion about their actual differences.

So, what do people mean when they use these terms?

Today, we no longer use the old term ADD, as it is outdated. Traditionally, ADD was used to diagnose inattentive symptoms of attention deficit, like trouble listening or managing time, and ADHD was used to diagnose hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. ADD and ADHD are now considered subtypes of the same condition and the same diagnosis, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders – V (DSM-5).

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder comprises three distinct subtypes — inattentive (traditionally called ADD), hyperactive-impulse (traditionally called ADHD), and combined. Symptoms vary significantly for each type — from bouncing-of-the-walls energy to quiet spaciness and profound disorganisation.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the preferred medical term for the biologically based neurological condition that was once called ADD. Its symptoms fall into with one of three quantifying subtypes:

  • Primarily Inattentive

  • Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive

  • or Combined

Understanding that ADHD is primarily characterised by a cluster of symptoms regardless of the specific label, can help in recognising and addressing these challenges effectively. While hyperactive impulsive type ADHD is the stereotype most people imagine when they think of ADHD, a diagnosis of ADHD can still apply even if an individual does not have hyperactive or impulsive behaviours.

In fact, it is crucial that students with prominent inattentive symptoms of ADHD get evaluated by a professional as soon as possible as this sub-group often gets overlooked at school! Recognising the signs of inattentive ADHD, hyperactive ADHD, and combined ADHD are key to preventing a lifetime of low self-esteem and shame!

Contact us at (03) 5996 6006, or to see how DyslexAbility can best support you and your family.

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