A British pediatrician, George Still, first documented and discussed the group of symptoms found in children as a specific condition. During those times, the disease or condition was considered to be a minimal brain disorder (MBD). Until the 1970s, medical professionals classified this childhood hyperactivity as Hyperkinesis or Hyperkinetic Impulsive Disorder (HID). Hyperkinesis comes from a Latin root word for super active. During the 1980s, the condition was termed Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The name of this disorder was officially changed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in 1987 at the world convention of medical professionals. ADHD is the term used now as per the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – IV – TR).
Symptoms of ADD and ADHD
A child with ADHD is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli. He/she is often not able to sustain attention and cannot follow instructions. The boy/girl will often have difficulty working on school work and other activities that requires concentration. Rather than concentrating on one activity at a time, he/she may shift and juggle between activities.
There are children who tend to be more hyperactive and impulsive. They may also have behavioral problems. Children who are hyperactive and have behavioral problems are classified as a combined type of ADHD. For the sake of convenience and ease, the inattentive type is now being termed as ADD and the combined type, which has the inattentive and hyperactive elements are termed as ADHD.
The symptoms of ADD include:
Inattentiveness or not paying attention
Shuffling between tasks
Being overly distracted
Has problems following instructions
Seems to be careless
Symptoms of ADHD include:
Talks too much
Exhibits hyperactive behavior
Cannot stay still, even when told to settle down
Cannot do anything quietly
Cannot wait in line
Can’t wait until his/her turn comes
Very impatient and forceful
Runs and jumps and climbs on things
Is disturbingly hyperactive
The symptoms of ADD/ADHD are usually present in children by the time they reach 7 years of age. Because some children are not hyperactive, some doctors will choose the term ADD rather than ADHD to describe their condition.
To be diagnosed with ADD, the symptoms of inattentiveness should be present for a period of 6 months minimum. The doctor will ask about what the parents and teachers notice about the child’s behavior and attentiveness. If the child is inattentive, but does not exhibit behavior problems the child will likely be diagnosed with ADD.
To be diagnosed with ADHD, the symptoms of inattentiveness are combined with extreme hyperactive behavior for a period of 6 months minimum. The main difference between the two disorders is that ADHD contains the hyperactive element. The first type, ADD, may be confused with laziness. Many children who cannot pay attention or can’t seem to learn well are often labeled as lazy or mentally deficient in some way.
The medical treatment for ADD/ADHD will be discussed in a future article.