There is a difference between ADD and ADHD and it’s important to know because it defines your child’s challenges and guides treatment decisions. Our team at MindSet TMS works closely with you and your child, providing a comprehensive psychological evaluation to determine if they have ADD or ADHD.

If you wonder about your child’s behaviors and whether they could have one of these conditions, this information will help you understand the differences between the two and give you the details about their symptoms.

ADD versus ADHD

The long history of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) began way back in the 1700s. Their modern history, however, begins in 1980, when the condition was given the name of ADD.

ADD was chosen because the focus was on children who primarily had problems with attention. At the time, ADD had two subtypes, ADD with hyperactivity or without hyperactivity.

As other symptoms were identified, the name was changed to ADHD. ADHD included the three key symptoms — inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity — in one big group.

More recently, after large studies to better identify the characteristics of ADHD, the American Psychiatric Association refined the definition to include three types of ADHD.

Three types of ADHD

ADD is now one of the three primary types of ADHD:

Inattentive ADHD

This is the original ADD, but it’s now called ADHD with inattentive presentation. This type of ADHD includes children who have a hard time paying attention, but who don’t have trouble with hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Children with inattentiveness may:

  • Fail to pay attention to details or make careless mistakes
  • Have difficulty attending to specific tasks, even when they’re playing
  • Not listen when you speak to them
  • Not follow instructions
  • Frequently lose things
  • Have difficulty staying organized
  • Avoid or dislike tasks that require their attention, such as reading or homework
  • Be easily distracted either by their environment or their own thoughts
  • Frequently forget about daily activities such as chores

These issues sound like typical childhood problems, and they are, but there’s a significant difference. In children with ADD (ADHD with inattentive presentation), their behaviors are so severe that their inattention undermines their success at school, affects their ability to make friends, and interrupts family activities.

Hyperactive and impulsive ADHD

When children don’t have problems paying attention, but they struggle with hyperactive and impulsive behaviors, they have ADHD with hyperactivity and impulsivity presentation. Children with this type of ADHD:

  • Can’t sit still so they squirm in their seat, tap their feet, and fidget
  • Often get out of their seat when they’re expected to stay put
  • Often run or climb in places and at times when it’s inappropriate
  • Can’t play quietly
  • Often talk excessively
  • Are frequently on the go and moving
  • Often blurt out answers before you finish asking the question
  • Have a hard time waiting to take their turn
  • Interrupt (jump into a game in progress) or intrude (take things without asking)

Though ADHD often continues into adulthood, the symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsivity are present before the age of 12.

Combined ADHD

The third type of ADHD occurs when children meet the criteria for both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.

Treating ADD and ADHD

Treatment for ADD and ADHD includes medications, behavioral therapy, social skills therapy, parent coaching, and school-based support. With a plan that’s followed seamlessly at home, school, and in the community, your child can learn the skills they need to overcome their ADD or ADHD.

We also offer one of today’s most innovative therapies for ADHD, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the areas of the brain that are underactive in children and adults with ADD and ADHD.

As TMS boosts electrical activity in nerves, brain chemicals increase, and symptoms of ADD and ADHD improve.

If you have any questions about ADD and ADHD, you wonder if your child needs an evaluation, or you would like to learn more about treatments, such as TMS, call MindSet or request an appointment online.