ADHD and ADD Diagnosis

A child will not be diagnosed with an Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder unless they exhibit 6 or more of the 18 characteristics in two settings associated with ADHD or ADD. (ADHD and ADD differences and similarities are discussed below.) Please know, a child with ADHD or ADD does not imply low functioning cognitive abilities. It has more to do with executive functioning.

With the diagnosis, your grandchild will be eligible for special modifications and accommodations to help him with his school work. Contact your child’s guidance counselor or Study Team if you believe your child may have ADD or ADHD. The options offered may be a 504 or an IEP. You will need to first contact your child’s pediatrician for a preliminary evaluation. The Child Study Team evaluate students for learning disabilities.

I first published this information in 2008. Since then, 7 years later, my oldest granddaughter was diagnosed with ADHD. As a special education teacher, I saw the ADHD characteristics. It became more prevalent her first year of high school, when focusing, organizing (executive functioning), and more student independence/responsibility was expected of her. She received a 504 giving her accommodations for success. I give much credit to my daughter for helping her find a system that worked for her and allowed her independence.

Characteristics of ADHD and ADD

Attention Deficit Disorders are complex neurobiological disorders and can affect both personal and academic interactions. Physicians, Child Psychologists, and Teachers are more aware of the characteristics associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD and ADD) than they were when our children were in school.

Note: ADD and ADHD differences and similarities are combined now as one classification of ADHD, but I believe the following breakdown of characteristics will help you understand your child’s behavior.

New: 2018 – For natural over-the-counter treatments, see below. 

ADHD and ADD Differences – Basics

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder share some basic characteristics, yet they are also different in some ways.

Children who have ADHD tend to be:

  • hyperactive
  • energetic
  • talkative
  • outgoing

Children with ADD tend to be:

  • low energy
  • introverted
  • less likely to talk in class
  • daydreamers

Note: any given child with ADD/ADHD will have some, but probably not all, of the characteristics given below.

ADHD and ADD Similarities

ADHD and ADD share these characteristics:

  • impulsivity (may decrease some as child matures)
  • inattention
  • trouble getting started on homework or schoolwork
  • poor sustained attention (persistence on tasks)
  • problems with written expression and math
  • poor handwriting (fine motor skills)
  • short-term memory problems
  • working memory problems

ADHD and ADD Differences

Students with ADHD and ADD differences are very distinct. However, students with combined type ADHD will have symptoms from both columns:

ADHD (hyperactive-impulsive type)ADD (inattentive type)
hyperactivehas low energy, not hyperactive
out of seatsits in seat daydreaming
talkativequiet, less talkative
blurts out answersslow to respond in class
talks and acts before thinkingslow processing speed
(seems confused at times)
slow retrieval of information
slow perceptual-motor speed
slow writing
class clownquiet, socially distant
difficulty making and keeping friends
misses social cues
gets along better with peers

Less Common Characteristics of ADHD and ADD

The following behaviors are not present in all students with ADHD or ADD, but when present, they are more likely to be associated with the type of attention deficit noted.

ADHD (hyperactive-impulsive type)ADD (inattentive type)
aggressionanxiety; may reduce impulsivity
oppositionalless oppositional behavior
defiance; conduct disorderless defiance

Source: Teaching Teens with ADD and ADHD, A quick reference guide for teachers and parents by Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, M.S.

For further information on diagnosing ADHD or ADD, read the following article in its entirety at

Diagnosing ADHD in Children, By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

“These symptoms must be present for at least 6 months in two or more settings, e.g., school and at home; play and at school; etc. If the symptoms have not been present for at least 6 months or the child meets the criteria only in one setting (e.g., school only), then ADHD should not be diagnosed.”

If your child does not meet the above criteria for ADD or ADHD, there may be other underlying causes for your child’s behavior such as a learning disaiblity, depression, anxiety, or difficulty with peer relationships. Keeping a daily journal may help you realize a reoccuring pattern with notable triggers. Ongoing discussions with your child’s teachers, guidance counselor, and physician may help determine the reason for the behavior.

Natural Treatments for ADHD

CogniTune Smarter Health believes, as I do, that it is important to draw much needed awareness to safer and healthier remedies for ADHD. “For some children, Adderall and prescription ADHD medications can be highly dangerous if abused. These stimulants have many adverse side effects and are known to be quite harmful to children despite being FDA approved.

Since Adderall abuse has grown to epidemic levels, our research team has compiled an article, 12 Best Adderall Alternatives: Natural Over the Counter ADHD Substitutes, about the best all-natural alternatives to Adderall (updated for 2018).”

CongiTune’s article is worth taking the time to learn about the 12 natural alternatives for treating ADHD. I’m sharing it on my Facebook page.