In the United States, over 6 million children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While the condition is well-known, there’s lots of misinformation about its exact nature — many people don’t understand the difference between ADHD and ADD (attention deficit disorder). Let’s take a closer look at these conditions, their symptoms and how they’re treated.

What Is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic mental health condition characterized by inattentiveness and hyperactivity. Although it’s usually diagnosed in children, approximately 5% of American adults have the condition as well. It can be divided into the following categories:

  • Primarily inattentive
  • Primarily hyperactive-impulsive
  • Combined


People with primarily inattentive ADHD tend to struggle with concentration and have limited attention spans. Those with primarily hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, on the other hand, are highly energetic and impulsive. There are also many patients with combined ADHD, which means they experience inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms simultaneously.

What Is ADD?

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is an outdated term for primarily inattentive ADHD. It’s reserved for people who experience the inattentive symptoms of ADHD, but are not hyper or impulsive. While it used to be its own condition, ADD is now considered a subset of ADHD.

ADD vs. ADHD Symptoms in Kids

Although ADD is treated as a part of ADHD, it has slightly different symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at ADHD symptoms vs. ADD symptoms in children.

ADD Symptoms in Kids

Here are common ADD, or inattentive ADHD, symptoms in kids:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of organizational skills
  • Easily distracted and forgetful
  • Difficulty following instructions and completing tasks


A child with ADD might struggle with paying attention in class, completing homework and listening to their teachers or parents.

ADHD Symptoms in Kids

A child with ADHD can experience all the symptoms found in ADD, as well as these hyperactive-impulsive symptoms:

  • Fidgeting and squirming
  • Excessive talking and interrupting
  • Running around and climbing on things
  • Trouble waiting their turn
  • Refusal to stay still


In addition to struggling with concentration and listening, kids with ADHD may be unable to stay still. Oftentimes, they look as though they’re on a motor — they might run around the classroom, climb on their seat and interrupt their teacher.


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