Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders. ADHD is a broad term, and the condition can vary from person to person.

There are an estimated 6.4 million diagnosed children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This condition is sometimes called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but this is an outdated term. The term was once used to refer to someone who had trouble focusing, disorganized or forgetful but was not hyperactive nor impulsive.

Types of ADHD

There are 3 types of ADHD:

Primary Inattentive

Inattentive ADHD is what’s usually meant when someone uses the term ADD. This means a person shows enough symptoms of inattention (or easy distractibility) but isn’t hyperactive or impulsive.

Inattention, or trouble focusing, is one symptom of ADHD. A doctor may diagnose a child as inattentive if the child:

  • is easily distracted
  • is forgetful, even in daily activities
  • is unable to give close attention to details in school work or other activities and makes careless mistakes
  • has trouble keeping attention on tasks or activities
  • ignores a speaker, even when spoken to directly
  • doesn’t follow instructions
  • fails to finish schoolwork or chores
  • loses focus or is easily side-tracked
  • has trouble with organization
  • dislikes and avoids tasks that require long periods of mental effort, such as homework
  • loses vital things needed for tasks and activities

Recognizing inattentive ADHD is key to preventing low self esteem as well as shame unnecessarily.

Primary Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

This type occurs when a person has symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity but not inattention.  Yet, this description fits only a small portion of those with the condition.

A doctor may diagnose a child as hyperactive or impulsive if the child:

  • appears to be always on the go
  • talks excessively
  • has severe difficulty waiting for their turn
  • squirms in their seat, taps their hands or feet, or fidgets
  • gets up from a seat when expected to remain seated
  • runs around or climbs in inappropriate situations
  • is unable to quietly play or take part in leisure activities
  • blurts out an answer before someone finishes asking a question
  • intrudes on and interrupts others constantly


Combined ADHD is when a person has 6 or more symptoms of inattention and 6 or more symptom of hyperactivity and impulsivity.  Men and boys more commonly have hyperactive symptoms, while women and girls more commonly have inattentive.  Because of this, men are more commonly diagnosed than women, as their symptoms are more easily recognized as ADHD.

What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?

“You cant have ADHD… you’re not hyper!” It’s one of the most common misconceptio

ns about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  The truth is, you can have ADHD / ADD even if you’re not loud, impulsive and/or bouncing off the walls.

People with ADHD are supposed to be outspoken, loud and physically active right?  Wrong.  Many people with ADHD live with a quiet, spacey form of the condition that’s often misunderstood and undiagnosed/  While the condition can be impossible to ignore in hyperactive children, adults who have trouble listening or are always late can be seen as rude or disorganized.  Their ADHD symptoms are never identified or treated due to people not understanding the difference between ADD and ADHD.

Possible Causes of ADHD

There’s been a lot of research in the last few years that has pointed to possible causes of ADHD. Brain-imaging studies have looked at brain anatomy and wiring in people who have ADHD and those who don’t.

Studies have shown that brain development is very similar. But kids with ADHD have a delay in development of about three years in some specific parts of the brain. These are the areas involved in executive functions. That’s why kids with ADHD may act one to three years younger than other kids their age.

Research also shows some differences in the networks that help parts of the brain communicate with each other. And there are differences in how brain chemicals act when they’re involved in that communication.

It’s important to know that these differences have nothing to do with intelligence or IQ. Kids with ADHD are just as smart as kids without ADHD.

Genetics also appear to play a role. Research has shown that ADHD tends to run in families. A child with ADHD has a one in four chance of having at least one parent who also has it. And there’s a strong likelihood that another close family member also has ADHD.