There are many questions swirling around the difference between ADD and ADHD, but in recent years, the American Psychiatric Association compounded these medical conditions into one diagnosis under the umbrella of ADHD.

So instead of Googling old-school articles, let’s break down the difference between the subtypes of ADHD, what treatments really work, and what the future looks like for your child. 

Whether your child is jumping on the bed or staring into space, we’ll unpack their ADHD symptoms here. It’s time for a deep dive into how diagnosing this condition really works these days. 

3 ADHD Subtypes: Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulse, Combined

While stereotypes portray children with ADHD as simply bouncing off the walls, mental health professionals will tell you that those sweeping generalizations are far from the truth. 

An ADHD diagnosis now encompasses three separate subtypes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: inattentive, hyperactive-impulse, and combined. 

Each of the types of ADHD has its own set of specific symptoms, as well as pitfalls and rewarding moments of parenting. 

It’s also worth noting that there is a wide range in the severity of symptoms. Some children may deal with daydreaming or fidgeting, while others struggle with major conduct issues. Just like your amazing child, each case of ADHD is unique and individual.

The type of ADHD and the seriousness of the case will determine how your child’s symptoms present, as well as your best treatment options. Here are the three ways that The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies a diagnosis of ADHD.

Inattentive ADHD (formerly ADD)

The symptoms of inattention were formerly classified under the label of ADD, until the label of ADHD became an umbrella for both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms of ADHD. Inattentive type ADHD is just what it sounds like: mainly classified by issues paying attention.

However, someone with only inattentive ADHD will not show symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity. If your child is struggling with inattentive ADHD, formerly ADD, you might notice signs like these:

  • Careless mistakes on daily activities, such as school work or chores
  • Disorganization and a cluttered environment
  • Trouble focusing or listening for long periods of time
  • Distractibility, or trouble paying close attention
  • Time management issues, especially when it comes to small details or large projects
  • Keeping materials and possessions ordered and neat
  • Struggling with sequential instructions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Daydreaming or mentally wandering off

While boys are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), girls are actually more likely to struggle with inattentiveness. 

However, no matter the gender, don’t miss the signs of ADHD in your child by assuming they’re simply ignoring the details.

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD (formerly ADHD)

Hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD is more in line with the classic stereotypes of ADHD. Hyperactive-impulsive symptoms are a bit easier to spot on first glance by family members and friends. 

You might notice that your child:

  • Squirms or fidgets when asked to sit still
  • Interrupts, blurts out their thoughts, or talks incessantly
  • Struggles to sit down for long periods
  • Behaves impulsively without considering risks or consequences
  • Feels restless consistently
  • Cannot play quietly
  • Has trouble waiting for their turn
  • Rarely stops running, jumping, or climbing
  • Grabs things away from other children
  • Has more accidents than others their age
  • Has less developed social skills than their peers

Combined ADHD

Combined ADHD is diagnosed when both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive symptoms present in the child. This may look like a child struggling to pay attention, control their impulses, or cease their activities at proper times.

In order to diagnose any of the three subtypes of ADHD, there are a few conditions that need to be met:

  • At least six symptoms must be evident for at least six months
  • Symptoms must be displayed in more than one environment, such as both school and home
  • The symptoms must interfere significantly with their social, working, school, or home environments
  • The presenting symptoms cannot be explained by a mood disorder or anxiety disorder

ADHD in Adults vs. Children

Though the underlying issues are the same, the symptoms may present differently in adults struggling with ADHD. Adults ADHD patients with untreated symptoms may be found:

  • Talking: interrupting, jumping to conclusions, and interrupting
  • Moving: in a very active or fast-paced job, driving quickly, or unable to sit through meetings or movies
  • Working: trouble with procrastination and time management, chronically late, struggling to start or finish projects, and losing things

It’s important to remember that whether adult or childhood ADHD is the culprit, these issues are diagnosable. Patients with ADHD frequently struggle with low self-esteem, and it’s crucial to remind your loved one that these symptoms are part of a disorder, not a failing on their part. 

As mothers of special needs children, at the M Center, we know that your support is a game-changer for the ADHD individual that you love so much. If you are located near the Roswell, Georgia area, we’d love to be a part of your team.

Effective ADHD Treatments

When treating ADHD, we believe that instead of immediately prescribing Adderall or a similar medication, it’s important to treat the issue at the root. That’s why we recommend addressing several potential causes such as:

  • Nutritional deficiencies. We examine their current diet to find what’s missing, and then make recommendations to balance out the diet and add proper supplementation.
  • Inflammation. Since inflammation may play a role in developing some cases of ADHD, we suggest removing known inflammatory foods such as sugar, casein, and gluten.
  • Immune function. By detoxifying the body and boosting the immune system, the stress of unwanted chemicals will be removed so your child has time to fight the real battle– ADHD symptoms.
  • Toxins. Environmental toxins have been linked to ADHD, and detoxing any toxic compounds such as heavy metals, BPA, pesticides, and more. 
  • Support. Supporting patients and families with a team of medical and mental health experts that take a holistic approach will yield the best results. 

Some doctors recommend stimulants or non-stimulants, but many ADHD drugs have common, negative reactions, and some studies even suggest that the number of adverse reactions may be higher than we think. 

This is the reason we suggest first dealing with your child’s overall health, then moving into prescribed treatments if totally necessary. 

Looking to the Future

As shown by the merging of ADHD and ADD into one umbrella, we are still learning more about ADHD through research each year. Nevertheless, there is already a body of promising functional medicine treatments available.

So, what is the outlook for a child that is currently struggling with ADHD (formerly known as ADD)? 

The future is bright! 

Children with ADHD are not any less likely to grow up and live a successful life as they receive proper treatment and care. Without it, they’re more likely to struggle with low self-esteem, but early detection can help assuage those thoughts.

Many successful people, from Olympians like Simone Biles and Michael Phelps to entertainers like Adam Levine and Solange Knowles, have spoken up about living with ADHD. They are just examples for your child to point to and know that ADHD by no means prevents them from living an extraordinary life.


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