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.
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. The multi-step process to diagnose ADHD requires a medical exam, hearing and vision tests to rule out other problems with similar symptoms to ADHD, a checklist for rating symptoms of ADHD, and a history of the child from parents, teachers, and sometimes directly from the child. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, or be overly active. They do not grow out of the normal childhood tendencies to have difficulty focusing and/or behaving. A child with ADHD might be prone to daydreaming, forgetting or losing things, fidgeting, talking too much, making careless mistakes or taking unnecessary risks, struggling with resisting temptation, or having difficulty getting along with others.
Current research shows that genetics plays an important role in understanding the cause(s) of ADHD, which are largely unknown. Most recent studies focus on the role of dopamine; norepinephrine; and, most recently, serotonin neurotransmitters. Other possible causes being studied are brain injury/head trauma, exposure in utero--or at a young age--to environmental agents (such as lead) or alcohol/tobacco, and premature delivery or low birth weight. Research does not support the popularly held view that ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar, watching too much television, parenting, or social and environmental factors such as poverty.
There are three types of ADHD: 1. Predominantly inattentive, which is categorized by the child having trouble organizing or staying on task, paying attention to detail, or following instructions or conversations, and being easily distracted. 2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive, where the child fidgets and talks a lot, has difficulty sitting still, is constantly moving, feels restless, and struggles with impulsivity, such as interrupting, grabbing things from people, speaking at inappropriate times, or an inability to wait his or her turn. 3. Combined presentation shares symptoms of the first two types equally.