What is Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder?

What is ADD/ADHD

What is Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) involve persistent inattention or hyperactivity interfering with functioning for 6 months or longer. This condition usually begins to be seen before the age of 12.

Main Symptoms

There are two main symptom groups involved in ADD and ADHD. They are inattention and hyperactivity. In-depth descriptions of each symptom group are in the table provided below:

Inattention Inattention to detail

Difficulty sustaining attention

Doesn’t listen well

Poor follow through on tasks

Poor organization

Avoids homework or large projects

Often loses things



Hyperactivity Fidgets or squirms

Leaves seat often

Runs around inappropriately

Can’t play quietly


Always moving

Overly talkative

Blurts out answers

Difficulty waiting or taking turns

Interrupts frequently

If your child is experiencing 6 or more of the above symptoms they may be suffering from ADD or ADHD symptoms.

Things You Can do at Home

There are many things you can do at home to work on prevention such as staying active, eating a healthy diet, and planning ahead. There are many factors that can cause ADHD and ADD symptoms to become exacerbated, including stress, not enough exercise, a child not understanding their situation or schedule, and certain nutritional or food triggers. Other things you can do include:

  • Educating yourself about ADD/ADHD
  • Avoiding chaotic settings where one might be overstimulating
  • Encouraging them to fidget with a toy
  • Staying organized
  • Teach your child mindfulness skills

There are also many at home changes that can be made to help with ADD and ADHD. The first being adjusting your parenting. Trying to be consistent yet still setting limits and having clear consequences for behavior is key. Having boundaries can help their anxiety, and get them used to a routine. Having a routine that includes things like: morning activities, meals, chores, TV, and sleeping will help organize the child’s attention and repeatedly remind them what’s expected.

To ensure the routine and expectations it’s important to avoid multitasking when talking with your child. Setting any kind of distraction down, such as phone when talking to your child is crucial. Make eye contact when giving instructions. If instructions are followed through make sure to praise your child. Praise or rewards for good behavior can nurture a positive relationship with your child and encourage great behavior.

Sharing these recommendations with teachers or caregivers will help the routine to continue throughout the day. This will decrease the impact of the condition on the child’s life. In addition it will help keep the child organized throughout the day, which will help them stick to the routine. Some anecdotal evidence has suggested that children suffering from ADD/ADHD may need more physical activity before and after to school to “burn off energy” and also require frequent breaks during studying or learning. Studies for the aforementioned ideas are still emerging.

Medical Interventions

If you feel you will need medical interventions to help with the ADD/ADHD there are plenty of options: The first being counseling; using talk therapy, mindfulness-based techniques, or EMDR therapy can help one process underlying issues and understand how to deal with their emotions as well and work through their feelings. Another therapeutic option is Naturopathic Medicine and working on the root biological causes of the symptoms. Health Coaching can help if there are certain foods or food dyes that are triggering the condition. Other medical options include are seeing a psychiatrist, and utilizing bio or neurofeedback.

These techniques do not replace medical advice. Speak with your healthcare practitioner if you think you are suffering with ADD or ADHD. The DSM-5 strives to conceptualize an illness as a spectrum, with a domain that should be construed as normal.

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