ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis


At first glance the difference between Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is obvious: Hyperactivity. But is it that simple? Is ADD simply ADHD without the hyperactivity. the DSM-IV (the diagnostic bible) defines three types of ADHD. The predominantly inattentive subtype (ADD), the hyperactive-impulsive subtype (ADHD) and the combined subtype. The combined subtype tends to get rolled up into ADHD.

The research into the difference between the three types is complicated with no clear answer emerging. Some studies have found that people with ADD require more assistance in class and perform less well on certain cognitive tasks. Longitudinal studies on children with ADD or ADHD have found that people with ADD are more likely to suffer anxiety related mental health problems. This may be a natural difference between introverted and extroverted people or it may be directly connect to the ADD.

In a study using actigraphs (watch like devices that measure the amount the wear moves) found no difference between the different sub-types. In fact, during the morning there was no difference between the ADHD children and the non-ADHD children. Only in the afternoon did the non-ADHD children slow down.

The cerebellum and poor motor skills has been linked with ADHD and research suggests that the different types of ADD / ADHD do have different levels of motor skills. An Australian study found that children with ADD and combined ADHD had worse motor control than those with straight ADHD. This may indicate a fundamental difference between the two types or it may be that the hyperactive child’s learns more control over their body because they are moving around more.

There also appears to be a gender difference between ADD and ADHD. Girls are more likely to be diagnosed as ADD than boys. Is this a difference between the ADD and ADHD or is it that in our society it seems as normal for boys to boisterous and girls to sit quietly?

At the moment it is hard to say for certain if ADD really is different from ADHD. Even if they are different, it is not clear if they are subtypes of the same problem or two seperate problems needing different approaches to treatment.

Previously on Myomancy:
Boys, Girls, Reading and ADHD. How They Are Connected
Does ADHD Exist?

Comprehensive evaluation of attention deficit disorder with and without hyperactivity as defined by research criteria.
Psychiatric, Neuropsychological, and Psychosocial Features of DSM-IV Subtypes of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Results From a Clinically Referred Sample.
Does Actigraphy Differentiate ADHD Subtypes in a Clinical Research Setting?
Fine and gross motor ability in males with ADHD
A chart review study of the Inattentive and Combined Types of ADHD


  1. Carina

    I’m trying to find good sources of information to help me help my son who is 16 and newly diagnosed with ADD without hyperactivity. He also tests very high on IQ tests, shows no other learning disabilities, and yet fails to succeed in school. He is on adderall xr which helps, when he sticks to it, but I need help knowing how to guide both a person who is a teen but also bright and ADD.

    Thanks. Carina

  2. This is an interesting post.
    The research doesn’t necessarily support the differences between ADD and ADHD as the DSM – IV describes it.
    That said, it is a reasonable format for us to use.
    In general, boys who are more hyperactive tend to settle as they grow, and ultimately become more combined type.
    It will be interesting to see what the DSM 5 does with this one.

  3. sarah

    looking for some help my partnerwho is 33 has a very bad temper he can become very angry really easily and fly off the handle st the least thing, he finds it hard to consentrate at times and very impatient someone suggested it may be adhd im not sure and we need to do something quick could someone please point us in the right direction? thanks

  4. Christiaan (NL)

    Attention-deficit disorder (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder without hyperactivity): A neurobiologically and behaviorally distinct disorder from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (with hyperactivity)

    Here, you can find a recent sum-up and hypothesis about the plausibel differentiation in hypoactive ADD and the more comorbit subtypes of ADHD and ADD, written by Adele Diamond.

    Interestingly, patients with hypoactive ADD react more sensitive in a negative way to dopamine medication(methylphenidate and others) and much better to norepinphrine/noradrenalin medication (like dexamphetamine,Adderal…atomexitine?).

  5. Kat

    My nephew (who is 17) has had ADHD since he was a toddler. Currently he is taking the same medication as your son. He was struggling with his classes and failing some, but for the last couple of months he has been working really hard and trying to do some extra credit to get his grades up. You might want to talk to the Principal and see if he is having problems at school with other classmates. Also a good diet and a STRICT and ORGANIZED regiment is crucial for ADHD kids. We have been through it all and that seems to work best for him.

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