How Do I Know If I Am ADD?

Reviewed on 9/13/2021

Symptoms of ADD, which is an old name for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), include many different aspects of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.
Symptoms of ADD, which is an old name for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), include many different aspects of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is an old name for what is now currently referred to as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common neurodevelopmental disorder of childhood characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Symptoms may continue into adulthood.

You or your child may have ADD if symptoms are present such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention, which are detailed in the table below.

ADD/ADHD Symptoms Chart
Symptoms Characteristics

Hyperactivity

  • Frequent restlessness 
  • Excessive fidgeting or squirming
  • Excessive talking
  • Difficulty remaining seated 
  • Difficulty playing quietly
  • Always needing to be “on the go”

Impulsivity

  • Acting impulsively 
    • Spending money
    • Getting sexually involved
    • Changing plans
    • Diving into new activities 
  • Difficulty waiting turns
  • Blurting out answers too quickly 
  • Disruptive classroom behavior
  • Intruding on or interrupting others' activities
  • Difficulty getting along with others/rejection by classmates
  • Unintentional injury
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Carelessness
  • Being accident-prone
  • Difficulty resisting temptation
  • Being easily frustrated 
  • Saying and doing things without thinking 
  • Overdoing things
    • Compulsive shopping
    • Drinking too much
    • Overworking
    • Overeating

Inattention

  • Forgetfulness
  • Being easily distracted
  • Losing or misplacing things
  • Disorganization
  • Underachievement in school
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Poor follow-through with assignments or tasks
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of attention to detail
  • Daydreaming
  • Procrastination
  • Inability to complete projects
  • Being easily bored
  • Needing a lot of stimulation

What Causes ADD?

The cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (previously called attention deficit disorder, or ADD) is unknown, but genetics are believed to play a role. 

Other possible causes and risk factors for ADHD include:

How Is ADD Diagnosed?

There is no single test used to diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), (previously called attention deficit disorder, or ADD). Other possible conditions that can have similar symptoms must first be ruled out. Tests may include a medical exam and hearing and vision tests.

The diagnostic criteria defined by the American Psychiatric Association for ADHD includes:

  • Symptoms must be present in more than one setting (e.g., school and home)
  • Symptoms must persist for at least six months
  • Symptoms must be present before the age of 12 years
  • Symptoms must impair function in academic, social, or occupational activities
  • Symptoms must be excessive for the age of the child
  • Other mental disorders that could account for the symptoms must be excluded

QUESTION

Who is at greater risk for developing ADHD? See Answer

What Is the Treatment for ADD?

Treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), (previously called attention deficit disorder, or ADD), is usually a combination of behavior therapy and medication. 

Behavioral treatments usually are recommended for preschool-aged children before medications are prescribed. School-aged children with ADHD usually do well with stimulant medicine plus behavioral treatments and counseling if needed. Medications do not cure ADHD, and behavioral treatments are usually needed to help a child learn to follow rules, stay motivated, and work well with others. 

Medications used to treat ADHD include: 

Behavioral treatments for ADHD include:

  • Keeping distractions to a minimum
  • Maintaining a schedule
  • Setting reachable and clear goals
  • Rewarding positive behavior 
  • Limiting choices
  • Providing specific places for the child to keep school work, toys, and clothes
  • Using charts and checklists to help the child stay focused on the task at hand
  • Taking physical activity breaks during tasks that require attention
  • Finding activities such as sports or hobbies where the child can be successful 
  • Using calm discipline such as time outs, distractions, or removing the child from the situation

In school, teachers may be able to help students with ADHD by:

  • Writing homework assignments down
  • Having the teacher allow the child extra time to complete school work
  • Providing a daily report card for parents to help monitor the child's symptoms and evaluate how well the current ADHD treatment plan is working
  • Having the child sit near the front of the classroom
  • Giving the child a private signal when they veer “off-task”

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Reviewed on 9/13/2021
References
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/index.html

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/symptoms-and-diagnosis-of-attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-in-children-beyond-the-basics?search=adhd&source=search_result&selectedTitle=5~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=5

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-in-children-beyond-the-basics?search=adhd&topicRef=1210&source=see_link

https://www.additudemag.com/adult-test-for-add-adhd/