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ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

“A persistent pattern of inattention and hyperactivity– impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.”

Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD

Six or more of these symptoms have persisted for at least six months.


  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activity.
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Does not follow through on instructions or finish work.
  • Has difficulty organising tasks and activities.
  • Avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort.
  • Loses things necessary for tasks or activities.
  • Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Is forgetful.
  • Very limited attention span.


  • May distract others.
  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  • Leaves seat when staying in seat is expected.
  • Runs about or climbs excessively in situations where it is inappropriate. In teens or adults there may be a feeling of restlessness.
  • Has difficulty playing quietly.
  • Is often `on the go’ or seems `driven by a motor’.
  • Talks excessively.


  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
  • Has difficulty waiting for a turn.
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others.

The following must also be observed:

  • Some symptoms are present before age seven.
  • Some impairment in at least two different settings.
  • Interference with developmentally appropriate academic, social, or occupational functioning.
  • No evidence of another mental or developmental disorder.

Source: DSM – IV Criteria

ADD is attention deficit without the hyperactivity

Thank you to the International Dyslexia Association for the following information:

ADHD and Dyslexia are distinct conditions that frequently overlap, thereby causing some confusion about the nature of these two conditions. ADHD is one of the most common developmental problems, affecting 3–5% of the school population. It is characterized by inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It is estimated that 30% of those with Dyslexia have coexisting ADHD. Coexisting means the two conditions, ADHD and Dyslexia, can occur together, but they do not cause each other. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition, spelling, and reading decoding. People with Dyslexia have problems discriminating sounds within a word or phonemes, a key factor in their reading and spelling difficulties.

Is ADHD over-diagnosed?

The American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that ADHD is not over-diagnosed; however, increased awareness has resulted in an increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with ADHD. Girls and gifted children are actually under-diagnosed or may be diagnosed late. Girls often have ADHD predominantly inattentive type where the essential feature is inattention. This subtype of ADHD can easily be overlooked because the more obvious characteristics of hyperactivity and impulsivity are not present. Gifted children may be identified late because their strong intellectual abilities help them to compensate for these weaknesses in attention.

Can individuals inherit ADHD and Dyslexia?

Both ADHD and Dyslexia run in families. Genetics play a role in about half of the children diagnosed with ADHD. For the other half, research has yet to identify a cause. Regarding Dyslexia, about one third of the children born to a dyslexic parent will also likely be dyslexic.

Are there characteristics that individuals with ADHD and Dyslexia have in common?

Dyslexic children and children with ADHD have some similar characteristics. Dyslexic children, like children with ADHD, may have difficulty paying attention because reading is so demanding that it causes them to fatigue easily, limiting the ability to sustain concentration. People with Dyslexia and those with ADHD both have difficulty with reading. The dyslexic person’s reading is typically not fluent, with major problems with accuracy, miss-reading both large and small words. The person with ADHD may not be a fluent reader, but his or her reading is not characterized by miss-reading words. The ADHD reader may skip over punctuation, leave off endings, and lose his or her place. Lack of fluency of both the ADHD person and the dyslexic reader may negatively impact comprehension. Both may avoid reading and derive little pleasure from it. Both the person with Dyslexia and the person with ADHD typically have trouble with writing. The typical dyslexic writer has significant problems with spelling, grammar, proofreading, and organization. The ADHD writer often has difficulty with organization and proofreading. Both the dyslexic writer and the ADHD writer may have handwriting difficulties. Individuals with Dyslexia and ADHD may be underachieving in school even though they are often bright and motivated. The goal for them, as it is for all children, is to meet their potential. It is critical that children with these disorders be carefully evaluated because treatment for one disorder is different from the other. Inaccurate diagnosis can lead to inappropriate intervention and a delay in timely, effective intervention.

Have neurological studies shown functional and/or anatomical differences in the brains of people with ADHD as compared to Dyslexia?

The scientific community has been attempting to define the exact changes in the human brain that lead to ADHD and Dyslexia. There have been pathologic studies of a few brains from people with Dyslexia after they died. While some changes in the brain have been found between the brains of people with Dyslexia and people who do not have Dyslexia, no consistent pattern has emerged that allows the exact “dyslexic center” to be determined. More promising techniques have been developed, which can be performed on living persons. These include imaging studies, as well as physiologic studies. Once again, interesting leads have been found, but none has given us a definitive answer regarding the underlying mechanisms of these disorders. It should also be mentioned that these tests are research tools. There are currently no biologic tests routinely available that allow an objective diagnosis of Dyslexia or ADHD.

What is the outlook for children with Dyslexia and ADHD?

If Dyslexia and ADHD are identified and treated early, children with these disorders are more likely to learn to overcome their difficulties while maintaining a positive self-image. Even though children with Dyslexia do not outgrow their disability, they can learn to adapt and improve their weak skills. With proper remediation and needed accommodations, students with Dyslexia can go on to be very successful students in colleges and universities, as well as in professional and adult life. After puberty, about 40–50% of children with ADHD will improve.

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