ADD & ADHD 101: Everything You Need to Know About Attention-Deficit Disorder & Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children

Medically Reviewed by Kelsey Powell, MS, Medical Sciences

Photo Courtesy: LumiNola/E+/Getty Images

Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders that can cause serious disruptions in daily life. Both disorders result in ongoing inattention and/or impulsivity and are, therefore, similar conditions. However, unlike ADD, ADHD is also marked by a hyperactivity component.

In the cases of both disorders, symptoms typically begin in early childhood. It is estimated that millions of children are affected by some form of ADD or ADHD, both of which could keep them from learning effectively in school, especially if the disorders go undiagnosed. Although the onset of ADD/ADHD occurs early in life, symptoms often continue into adulthood and can go unrecognized until then. 

Moreover, individuals with ADD/ADHD can have trouble controlling their behavior and paying attention, which can often affect relationships, lead to problems at school or work, and sometimes cause low self-esteem or other anxiety-related complications. 

Symptoms Associated With ADD & ADHD

There are a few key symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Although most children, even those who do not have ADD/ADHD, experience these symptoms at some point, those with either disorder are likely to experience them with much more severity and for a much longer period of time. With this in mind, a child must exhibit symptoms for six months or more to be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Symptoms may include:

  • Inattention
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent boredom
  • Trouble completing school work or other tasks on time
  • Forgetfulness or recurrent loss of items
  • Trouble listening
  • Frequent daydreaming
  • Moodiness
  • Difficulty getting along with others
  • Trouble resisting temptation
  • Impulsivity
  • Impatience
  • Interruption of others when speaking
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Hyperactivity (only present with ADHD)
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Constant talking

Moreover, ADD/ADHD is categorized into three types based on the symptoms with the strongest presence in an individual. The three types of ADD/ADHD are:

  • Predominantly inattentive presentation
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation
  • Combined presentation