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The Difference Between ADD and ADHD

The Difference Between ADD and ADHD

You’ve noticed that your child may have trouble settling down or staying on task, especially when it comes to things they would rather not do, like homework. Maybe you’ve wondered if your child has attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.)

Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are some distinct differences between the two. Dr. Eiman ElSayed of Pediatric Care of Four Corners offers this guide to help you determine the difference between ADD and ADHD, and more importantly, whether or not your child might have one of them. 

What is ADD?

Attention-deficit disorder, or ADD, is the classic set of symptoms you may think of when it comes to children and attention. Most often associated with young boys, attention-deficit disorder tends to describe a child who has difficulty focusing, especially on challenging tasks, but they don’t also have trouble with fidgeting or inability to sit still.

There was some confusion when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  (DSM-5) changed the definition in 1994 to classify all types of attention disorders as “attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.” But the classic ADD is now considered a subtype of ADHD called the inattentive type. 

Symptoms of inattentive ADHD (or ADD)

Symptoms of the inattentive type of ADHD, or ADD, include difficulty maintaining focus and getting easily distracted. But it can also include behaviors like the following:

How ADHD is different

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, has many of the same components as the inattentive type. But one of the primary ways in which it is different is that children who are affected may seem to have a constant need to be in motion. You may observe certain behaviors including:

Whether or not your child will outgrow it

It’s possible that your child will outgrow ADD or ADHD as they mature. Current research suggests that as your child grows, their prefrontal cortex develops, reducing the symptoms of ADD or ADHD. It’s estimated that about a third of people who have ADD or ADHD as a child completely outgrow it by adulthood and have no symptoms.

For the other two-thirds of people, most people find that their symptoms become less as they get older. However, many kids with ADD or ADHD still struggle with symptoms into adulthood or even discover them in adulthood.

Why an accurate diagnosis matters

Either ADD or ADHD is a brain-based disorder. It doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your child, simply that they process information and instructions in a different way. The more you know about the way your child processes information, the more it can help you to understand their needs and advocate on their behalf.

How we treat ADD or ADHD

We don’t automatically offer medication to manage ADD or ADHD. We take into account your child’s overall health and how much their daily functioning is affected. We may refer you to a counselor or occupational therapist to help them manage their symptoms. Sometimes, we do choose to prescribe medication, in addition to recommending other strategies.

If you suspect that your child has ADD or ADHD, schedule a consultation with Dr. Eiman ElSayed at Pediatric Care of Four Corners today. Contact the office or request an appointment online. 

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