What is Attention Deficit Disorder?

School & Learning

Let’s talk about Attention Deficit Disorder?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that is usually diagnosed in childhood but may extend into adulthood. You might think to yourself, ‘do I have ADHD?’. Someone with ADHD is generally restless, has problems paying attention, and usually acts on impulse (with no care of the outcome).


Symptoms of ADD in Children

Children may have trouble being attentive or behaving at one point in life, but children with ADD may never outgrow these behaviors. ADD symptoms in children include:

  • Daydreaming
  • Getting distracted easily
  • Forgetting and losing things easily
  • Short span of attention
  • Talking too much
  • Inability to resist temptation
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Taking unnecessary risks


Types of ADHD

Some kids have ADD: attention deficit disorder. Other kids have ADHD: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The difference is whether the child demonstrates hyperactivity in addition to challenges with distraction and/or inattention. Typically, ADD can be classified into three types, depending on the most pronounced symptoms an individual shows.


Types of ADHD:


Inattentive ADHD

A person with inattentive ADHD gets distracted easily and has a challenging time paying attention. They find it challenging to organize and finish tasks and usually forget daily routine tasks. They also have a hard time following instructions.


Predominantly Hyperactive and Impulsive

Kids with hyperactive and impulsive ADHD usually fidget and find it challenging to stay in one place for a long time. In small children, you can notice it by their frequent running, jumping, and climbing. Generally, they are restless and may interrupt others and speak when they are not needed to.

They may encounter many accidents ad they may take risks without thinking through.


Combined Presentation

Such people equally display the symptoms of the two types mentioned above.


Diagnosing ADHD

It is important to note that the diagnosis of ADHD involves a series of tests. ADHD may have similar symptoms to other learning disabilities or share symptoms with conditions like depression.

When you start suspecting that your child may have ADHD, it is good to talk to their teacher or doctor. They may have to see a psychologist or their physician for some tests. The tests will help differentiate the symptoms and follow through with how your child responds to treatment.

I commonly use the SNAP Questionnaire as a first assessment. The SNAP-IV 26 – Teacher and Parent Rating Scale is a validated and objective screening tool that measures attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptoms in children and young adults. It is quick to complete, and this data can help classify a child as having or not meeting the criteria for ADHD.


ADHD treatment in children

ADHD has no specific cure, but ADHD treatment aims at helping the child to manage the symptoms and function better. Depending on the symptoms, the doctor may prescribe some medications or behavioral interventions or combine the two.

The doctor may prescribe stimulant or non-stimulant medications. They may be helpful to children who have trouble paying attention to details or having a short attention span. It will help them stay on a task for more extended periods.

Behavioral intervention plans may be helpful to teach the child some adaptive behavior skills. They may include behavior modification and social skills training. The kids slowly learn how to stay attentive and weigh options before acting. It also helps them to think about the outcome before taking risks.



Once you start suspecting that your child has ADHD, it is good to talk to their doctor. Early interventions will prevent the condition from bringing adverse effects on your child. They will also learn new skills and ways to handle different situations. The good thing about taking your child to a doctor is that it helps them realize that different people have different abilities.


FAQ – My most asked questions about ADHD


Q: Do I have ADHD? Does my child have ADHD?

A: If you are concerned you or your child has ADD or ADHD, it is best to chat with your doctor. Common symptoms of ADD in children include inattention, poor focus to detail, and being easily distracted.

Q: What are some other ADD symptoms in children?

A: Many kids with ADD are daydreamers. They may get distracted easily and be forgetful. Kids with ADD may have short attention spans and may talk a lot. They may make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks.

Q: How do I go about diagnosing ADHD in my child?

A: Please chat with your healthcare provider to review your child’s symptoms of ADD. You can complete the SNAP Questionnaire as a screening tool to see if your child likely meets the criteria.

Dr Dina Kulik - Kids Health

Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Written By: Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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