Most people use the terms ADD (or Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) interchangeably, but the truth is, they do not refer to the same thing. What ADD actually refers to is a type of ADHD, the Predominatly Inattentive Type. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association recognizes three different types of ADHD, two of which most parents don’t realize actually are considered ADHD, and is part of the reason why so many children go undiagnosed.

So what are these three different types of ADHD? Do they all exhibit similar traits? Read on to learn the symptoms of each type, you’ll be surprised at the true scope of this condition.

ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type

Most people refer to the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD as ADD. As the type name suggests, the symptoms of this type generally relate to inattentiveness such as: trouble paying attention, finishing tasks, or following directions. They may also easily become distracted; appear forgetful, careless and disorganized; and frequently lose things.

Individuals with the predominately inattentive type of ADHD may not only not be hyperactive, they can actually appear sluggish in processing information and responses. Often times differentiating between what is relevant and irrelevant information and are often considered daydreamers or spacey. This type is often the hardest to diagnose because they don’t exhibit the overt characteristics displayed by the other types of ADHD and is often overlooked as a result.

ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

Those with the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD often appear restless, fidgety, overactive and impulsive. Almost chronically, they act and speak before thinking, resulting in frequent interruptions and inappropriate behaviors for a current situation or setting. Individuals with this type of ADHD always appear on the go, have trouble staying in one place (like a seat in a classroom), have problems with waiting for their turn, but surprisingly may not have any significant problems with attentiveness.

ADHD, Combined Type

People who display characteristics of inattentiveness as well as hyperactivity and/or impulsivity are known to have a combined type.

One you understand which type of ADHD an individual has, it is much easier for you and your medical practitioner to determine the correct course of action in terms of treatment.



American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, DSM-IV-TR. (4th ed. ed.). Arlington VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.


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