Not really. They are brain disorders that impact your child’s ability to read, socialize, learn, and perform everyday activities. The terms “ADHD” and “ADD” — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit disorder, respectively — are often used interchangeably.
Back in the day, doctors would say that ADD referred to difficulty paying attention, whereas ADHD was the same, but with hyperactivity included. Now we use the term ADHD but classify it into three subtypes: Mostly inattentive, mostly hyperactive, or combined inattention and hyperactivity.
Diagnosing ADHD and ADD isn’t a one-size-fits-all test. It includes a series of observational and hands-on measures to get an accurate diagnosis.
When you come in for screening, your pediatrician sits down with your child and monitors their behavior. Be sure to let your doctor know about your child’s behaviors at home or school. All of this information helps determine if your child has ADHD or ADD. Your doctor will also ask questions about sleep, diet, and family routines.
Sometimes the diagnosis process also includes:
Evaluating family medical history
Aptitude testing or other psychological testing
Talking with teachers
Some symptoms of ADHD and ADD are obvious, but some aren’t (especially if your child is at school all day and you can’t observe them). When possible, watch for:
Difficulty staying on task
Spur of the moment decision-making
Squirming or fidgeting
Tapping with hands or feet
Treatment for ADHD and ADD depends on the severity of your child’s symptoms and what they need. Your pediatrician works with you to develop a management plan which could include:
Frequent praise and reward techniques
Learning how to communicate
Increasing physical activity
As your child grows and develops, the prefrontal cortex matures. As such, some researchers believe that the symptoms and side effects of attention deficit disorders can decrease or resolve completely. About one-third of adults who had ADHD and ADD as children, no longer have issues as adults, or their side effects are much less severe.
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