ADD or ADHD children?
It is always a thorn in my side that ADHD is often diagnosed in children who clearly have ADD. With this article, I hope to be able to explain to parents what the difference is between the 2 'disabilities' and describe the beautiful sides of them. I often encounter parents who tell me, "they say my child has ADHD, but I don't recognise any of it".
ADD is less well known than ADHD, as it is still described in the DSM as a subtype of ADHD. Fortunately, there are growing calls to take ADD out of that and describe it separately. I am in favour of this, because children with ADHD and ADD can differ from each other as much as children without and children with ADHD. Also, within the ADHD diagnosis, there are again children who differ enormously from each other in the extent to which they have ADHD.
First some dry matter.
ADHD is described in the DSM-V diagnostic manual as consisting of three different types:
ADHD-I, the predominantly inattentive type, (ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type). This is the type that mainly involves severe and persistent attention weakness (difficulty keeping attention in the here-and-now, dreamy type). It is also known as the ADD type. However, this designation has not been formally used since the publication of DSM-IV.
ADHD-H, the predominantly hyperactive and impulsive type . Here there is especially severe and persistent impulsivity and hyperactivity;
ADHD-C, the combined type. Both inattentive and hyperactive type problems are present. This type of ADHD is the most common.
Added in 2013:
ADHD-NAO, atypical form. The person has a number of characteristics of ADHD, but by no means all.
So, and now in understandable language....
The biggest difference is in the dynamics. ADHD children are generally busy and restless inside and out and ADD children are busy and restless inside. They describe it themselves as a 'storm in their heads'.
The children with ADD are usually those who:
- struggling to pay attention
- difficult to start their work
- do not always perform to their intellectual abilities
- being sensitive to stimuli
- it's the kids you always have to encourage to get to work
- sometimes find things difficult to oversee
- have difficulties with planning
- sometimes find it difficult to focus (unless something interests them!)
- often lose things
- sometimes have an aversion to tasks that require lengthy concentration
Children with ADHD also tend to suffer from the following:
- a lot of hand and foot movement
- be very impulsive
- struggling to suppress impulses
- often speak out of turn
- frequently getting up from the chair
- can move in a flash and is often 'on the move'
- Climbs on things or often runs around
- has difficulty relaxing
- sometimes disrupts the activities of others
- talks a lot ;)
So you see... these children are very different!
Children with ADHD are often seen as 'busy and difficult' and children with ADD are often seen as 'dreamy and lazy'. This I find so unfortunate... And also unjustified! Besides, the child is MORE than just the 'disability'.
- are also extremely creative and resourceful
- are go-getters
- they are often warm children
- usually they are very intuitive
- have wonderful insights that others do not have
- can quickly combine information
- can enjoy music, art or nature immensely
- have fantastic problem-solving skills
- when they are in their hyperfocus they can move mountains
- If you know how to appeal to their potential and interest then they will fly!
As parents, watch for signs of fatigue, depression and insecurity. This is common in these children.
Child counsellor at KinderZorgWinkel