Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a neurological disorder that causes a range of behavior problems such as difficulty attending to instruction, focusing on schoolwork, keeping up with assignments, following instructions, completing tasks and social interaction.
Problems Often Associated With ADD
ADD may also involve hyperactivity with behavior problems. In addition, students with ADD may have learning disabilities and are often at risk for repeated disciplinary problems in schools. In fact, adults and peers alike may conclude that such students are lazy because of their inattention to tasks and failure to follow through with assignments. While ADD is extremely common, misperceptions about the disorder continue to circulate.
How ADD Differs From ADHD
ADD is a term used for one of the presentations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as defined in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” It is officially, “attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly inattentive presentation.”
ADD does not manifest itself in the same way that ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type or ADHD combined type do. Students with these presentations have different symptoms.
Children with the other two presentations of ADHD, for example, tend to act out or exhibit behavior problems in class. Children with ADD are generally not disruptive in school. They may even sit in class quietly, but that doesn’t mean their disorder isn’t a problem and that they’re not struggling to focus. In addition, not all children with ADD are alike.
Children with ADD without the hyperactivity component may appear to be bored or disinterested in classroom activities. They may be prone to daydreaming or forgetfulness, work at a slow pace and turn in incomplete work.
Their assignment may look disorganized as well as their desks and locker spaces. They may lose materials at school and at home or misplace schoolwork and fail to turn in assignments. This can frustrate teachers, parents and result in the child earning poor marks in class. Behavior intervention may counter the child’s forgetfulness.
If you suspect your child has ADD with or without hyperactivity, talk to your child’s school counselor, teacher or physician about appropriate treatment. If you have any concern, begin these discussions today.
Your pediatrician may recommend seeing a child psychologist who can do formal testing on your child to both see if she fits the criteria for ADD, and where she happens to be on the spectrum. Not only can this testing help differentiate ADD from other issues which may be causing difficulty with school work, but can be used to follow a child’s response to interventions over time.
ADD is sometimes treated with stimulant medications such as Ritalin. In some cases, stimulant medications can help students with ADD stay on-task and focused. However, some stimulant medications have been associated with serious side effects. As a result, many parents hesitate to use Ritalin, Adderall or other medications to treat ADD.
Whether or not parents choose to medicate their children, most physicians and child psychologists suggest that a behavior intervention plan should be developed to help teach kids adaptive behavior skills and reduce off-task and inattentive behaviors.
This may be even more helpful than drug use, especially because some students diagnosed with ADD or ADHD actually don’t have these conditions but behave as if they do due to personal or family problems. Behavior intervention plans can help students with problem behaviors, whether they actually have ADD or exhibit ADD-like behaviors.
Certainly, there is an advantage of behavior intervention plans long term, as these adaptations may result in permanent improvement in concentration skills which medication cannot provide.
Fear of Labeling
Some parents of frightened that if they have their child tested for ADD she will be labeled. As a parent, however, you can do a lot to prevent this from happening. It’s important to talk to your child so that she knows she is not doing anything wrong in struggling with ADD, but instead, that it is up to you as a parent to help her learn the skills that will help her learn as easily as possible given her unique makeup.