If your child is said to be a daydreamer in school and is particularly distracted while doing important tasks like homework, it may be more than you think. Does he or she start things but have trouble finishing them? Does your child fidget a lot? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you may wonder if your son or daughter has attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Is There a Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

Often, when someone thinks about ADHD, they also think of ADD. The two conditions are often confused for being the same exact thing. Sometimes, they are the same condition, but other times, they are slightly different.

Attention deficit disorder, ADD, is a type of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that does not include the constant fidgeting movements associated with ADHD. It has only been since 1994 that doctors determined that there are two different attention deficit conditions. Generally, doctors have considered all forms of the condition to fall under the “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” category, even if the person is not hyperactive.

However, there are slight differences between ADD and ADHD proper. If you believe your teen suffers from one or the other, it’s important to know those differences and meet with a skilled mental health professional to ensure that your child receives the proper diagnosis.

Is Your Child Daydreaming or Fidgeting?

adhd add teen teenage

ADHD is a disorder that affects the brain. As a result, it can interfere with everyday activities a child performs regularly both at home and in school. A young person who suffers from the condition has difficulty in both paying attention and in controlling their behavior. Occasionally, the child can also be hyperactive. Before you take your son or daughter to a doctor for diagnosis, it’s important to note his or her symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Inattention: Children have difficulty concentrating on the current task at hand, constantly daydream, are disorganized and cannot pay attention when they are directly spoken to
  • Impulsivity: The child shows impulsive behavior with split second decisions lacking thought about the consequences of their actions. In addition, the child may also frequently interrupt other people
  • Hyperactivity: Constantly moving around, fidgeting, tapping, talking, squirming and more. The hyperactivity may be especially prevalent during inappropriate situations

The diagnosis your child receives depends largely on the signs and symptoms he or she exhibits.

What are the Symptoms of ADD?

In general, ADD is diagnosed in kids who are 16 or younger who have six or more symptoms involving inattention. Those older than 16 must exhibit five symptoms. The child must exhibit those symptoms for at least six months consecutively but show no signs of hyperactivity or impulsive behavior. The symptoms include the following:

  • Difficulty paying attention or concentrating and easily distracted
  • Dislikes or avoids long mental tasks like homework
  • Finds it hard to stay involved in tasks at school, home or even while playing
  • Disorganized and appears forgetful
  • Appears to not listen when directly spoken to
  • Appears to lack attention to detail
  • Frequently loses things
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Has difficulty following through with instructions

It is very common for kids with ADD to be undiagnosed because they can simply be written off as being a “daydreamer.”

What are the Symptoms of ADHD?

Kids with ADHD are constantly full of energy and never stop moving, which leads to problems. They must exhibit six or more symptoms for at least six months if they are 16 or younger. Teens older than 16 must exhibit at least five symptoms. Those symptoms include the following:

  • Constantly interrupting other people
  • Talking too much
  • Blurts out answers before a question is finished being asked
  • Difficulty waiting their turn
  • Gets up during inappropriate times
  • Fidgeting, tapping or squirming
  • Cannot play quietly
  • Runs or climbs during inappropriate situations

Causes of ADHD and ADD

It is unknown exactly what causes ADHD, but it is believed to run in families. Around one-third to half of parents with the disorder will have a child who also has it. Children born prematurely or with a low birth weight or to mothers who experienced difficult pregnancies have a higher risk of ADHD. Pregnant women who smoke or drink alcohol also have a higher risk of having a baby with ADHD.

What are the Treatments for ADHD?

There are several options for treating ADHD. However, one of the most effective is an inpatient program that focuses on modifying a child’s behavior and treating the symptoms. In inpatient treatment, this is done in a safe environment that includes group, individual or family therapy, medication management and parenting skills for the parents of the patient. Your child will learn ways to better focus and control his or her behavior, as well as take responsibility for his or her actions. Your child will have a better sense of self and a more positive outlook on dealing with the world after treatment.

If your child has been diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, you can get him or her much-needed treatment by looking into Centered Health. We can provide your teen with kindness and compassion every step of the way during treatment.