Distracted young student.

Tell Me More About ADD

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You may know that ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder, but do you know what the condition is about? The answer is broad, confusing, and tough to pin down but let’s give it a shot. Here we will provide a glimpse of ADD and later on in a different post, we will look at ADHD, or ADD with hyperactivity.

Distracted young student.

Kids or adults with ADD may be characterized by some or all of the following:

  • difficulty following instructions
  • difficulty in sustaining attention to specific tasks (day-dreamers or “lost in thought”)
  • apparent lack of motivated to complete tasks
  • apparent forgetfulness, disorganized, or inattention to details in completing tasks
  • continually losing things necessary for tasks. 

Attention-deficit disorders affect approximately 3-5% of the childhood population. It has been estimated that 50-80% of these children continue some degree of ADD symptoms as they grow into adulthood.

Kids with ADD may not perform well in school and may be called “bad students.” They may appear to have a below average IQ (intelligence quota). (Average IQ’s are typically around 100 when measured on an Intelligence Quota scale.) But having ADD does not automatically mean that a child has low IQ, even if that is how it seems.

Look at the story of Ryan:

Ryan is a seven-year old boy who is naturally active and has an IQ of 120. His mother is very passive and neither of his parents have ever disciplined him appropriately. They nag, yell and threaten, but never follow up with an actual consequence. This passive parenting approach encourages his lack of self-discipline and empowers his problems at school.

At school, Ryan is a major behavior problem. He constantly talks when he’s not supposed to, gets into fights, and refuses to complete his schoolwork. When he doesn’t get his way, he throws a tantrum. He lies about other kids, tattling on them to the teacher. He’s not very fidgety, he just likes to run and chase balls. He doesn’t have motor problems, and is generally quite coordinated.

Ryan actually has an IQ much higher than average but what he needs most is therapy and consultation at a school psychologist who can test him and recommend specific teaching and learning strategies, perhaps even including nutritional evaluation. Ryan is not “lost.” His condition can be treated, even though the therapeutic road may be challenging for both him and his parents.

Don’t give up on kids with ADD. If your child has ADD, you can find a therapist who specializes in ADD counseling to make recommendations for your family. Don’t think for a second that there is no hope for the condition of ADD. There is plenty of hope with appropriate therapy.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.