The Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder: ADD and ADHD Behaviors

ADHDADD/ADHD: Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder describes the behaviors of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity that may be present in some children and adults.

There are three different types of ADHD, depending on which types of behaviors are strongest in the individual:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
  3. Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

Although pharmaceutical companies assert and health professionals often state that ADD/ADHD is a brain-based biological disorder caused by a brain chemical imbalance, there is simply no reliable test to prove this — no physical or chemical abnormality validates ADHD as a medical disease.

As the CDC states Deciding if a child has ADHD is a several-step process. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms.

Since there can be no diagnosis without a disease, what is there?

There is a description of behaviors ― symptoms ― that health professionals use as a checklist in deciding whether your child has an attention disorder.

no independent valid objective test for ADD/ADHD.  Instead health professionals rely on:

ADD and ADHD behaviors are found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition: DSM-5 that forms the accepted guidelines for what are currently considered to be mental disorders or mental illnesses. This reference text is the “bible” of the mental health industry. ADD was added to the DSM-IV in 1980 and ADHD in 1987. Read the CDC’s information page on ADHD: Symptoms and Diagnosis and ADHD and the DSM-5: Update on Revisions to Diagnostic Criteria.

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