Distracted boy doing homework with girl
  • ADD

Attention-Deficit Disorder

You may have heard the terms ADD and ADHD used interchangeably. Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are indeed names for the same condition, it's just that ADHD has had several name changes in the last three decades.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder; it is neurologically-based and appears early in childhood, typically before a child begins school, and impairs development of personal, social, academic, and/or occupational functioning. It often involves dysfunction in attention, memory, perception, language, problem-solving, or social interaction. Onset is frequently by age 4 and invariably before age 12, and the typical age of initial diagnosis is between 8 and 10 years of age. Signs may include clumsiness, minor signs of non-specific cerebral impairment, and perceptual-motor dysfunctions (related to sensory processing).

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), there are 3 types of ADD/ADHD: Predominantly inattentive, Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and Combined. ADD/ADHD is about twice as common in boys, but the ratios vary by type. Behavioral history may reveal low frustration tolerance, opposition, aggressiveness, poor social skills and peer relationships, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and mood swings, among other concerns.

Core symptoms are inattention (making careless mistakes, not listening when spoken to directly, failing to finish tasks, or being easily distracted), impulsivity and hyperactivity (frequent fidgeting, squirming, being constantly in motion, difficulty playing quietly, or excessive talking). Symptoms must be present for more than 6 months, are more pronounced than expected for the child’s developmental level, occur in at least 2 settings, such as home and school, are present before age 12, and interfere with normal day to day functioning at home/school. Diagnosis is based on clinical criteria using medical, developmental, educational, and psychologic evaluations.

Children with ADD/ADHD who receive behavior therapy along with parents receiving parent management training have the best outcomes.

Conventional Treatment

ADD assessment should include details regarding a history of prenatal exposures (drugs/alcohol), perinatal complications, which may include traumatic brain injury, cardiac disease, sleep-disordered breathing, picky eating, and family history of ADHD; assessment should also include consideration of developmental milestones (particularly relating to language) and ADD/ADHD-specific rating scales, as well as educational and behavioral records. Though there are no clear causes, treatments are available to help children and families live with ADD / ADHD.​

The Journal of Pediatrics published a study that looks at the different types of treatment received by U.S. children, aged 4-17 years, diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). Counseling, including cognitive-behavioral therapy—goal-setting, self-monitoring, modeling, role-playing—is often effective and helps children understand ADD/ADHD. Structure and routines in daily living are of utmost importance. Medication therapy typically involves stimulant drugs, but non-stimulant, antidepressant, alpha-2 agonists, or other psychoactive drugs may be used instead or in combination.

Experts recommend using both medicine and behavior therapy for children older than 6 and using parent-delivered behavior therapy as the first line of treatment for children under 6 years of age. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) professional guidelines for best practice treatment of ADD/ADHD state that medication should be used in conjunction with psychosocial interventions for best over-all results. Research indicates that children with ADD/ADHD who receive behavior therapy along with parents receiving parent management training have the best outcomes, regardless of whether they receive medication.


At The Brain Possible, our goal is to empower you to take a holistic approach to your child’s treatment. Below are ways in which you can support several aspects of your child’s recovery; before embarking on any, be sure to discuss them with your trusted health care providers.







We understand that the categorization of conditions on The Brain Possible may not perfectly describe your child.

Our goal is inclusivity, opening the door to dialogue and information sharing.