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3 types of ADHD

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurological disorder that impacts the parts of the brain that help us plan, focus on, and execute tasks. ADHD symptoms vary by sub-type — inattentive, hyperactive, or combined.

What is the difference between ADHD and ADD?

There is no difference except the term ADHD was introduced in the 1987 American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 3rd edition (DSM-3-R) replacing the term ADD.

Fluffy White Clouds

Inattentive Type 

Inattentive symptoms
  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities

  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities

  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

  • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or failure to understand instructions)

  • Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities

  • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)

  • Loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)

  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

  • Forgetful in daily activities

Image by Michał Mancewicz

Hyperactive Type

hyperactive symptoms
  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

  • Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected

  • Runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness in adults)

  • Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly

  • Appears “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”

  • Talks excessively

  • Blurts out the answers before the questions have been completed

  • Has difficulty awaiting turn

  • Interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

Image by Raychel Sanner

Combined Type

combined type symptoms
  • Short attention span, especially for non-preferred tasks

  • Hyperactivity, which may be physical, verbal, and/or emotional

  • Impulsivity, which may manifest as recklessness

  • Fidgeting or restlessness

  • Disorganization and difficulty prioritizing tasks

  • Poor time management and time blindness

  • Frequent mood swings and emotional dysregulation

  • Forgetfulness and poor working memory

  • Trouble multitasking and executive dysfunction

  • Inability to control anger or frustration

  • Trouble completing tasks and frequent procrastination

  • Distractibillity

  • Difficulty awaiting turn

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