ADHD Treatments and ADD Treatments

ADHD and ADD Explained

Children and adolescents who struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) require proper diagnosis so that an effective plan of action for ADHD treatment can be put into place. Although symptoms of ADHD and ADD can be difficult to deal with, developing the skills and structure necessary to achieve one’s personal potential is not insurmountable.

ADHD is characterized by varying degrees of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention that can interfere with school, work, emotional, and social functioning.

There are two main types of ADHD:

    • Hyperactive
    • Inattentive

Both the hyperactive and inattentive types are considered ADHD. If someone is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) it is the same as being diagnosed with ADHD: Predominately Inattentive. “Predominately Inattentive” means that the hyperactive elements of ADHD are not as relevant to, but not excluded from, the behavior of the individual.

ADHD and ADD’s Associated Disorders

ADHD and ADD are often associated with other issues and conditions. These associated disorders can look very similar to ADHD and it is important to differentiate between them because treatment can be quite distinctive to each.

Some common co-occurring diagnoses of ADHD or ADD include:

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is commonly diagnosed with ADHD. This disorder is characterized by significant emotional and behavioral problems that include cruelty to animals, aggression towards people, lying, and a disregard for authority.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder is characterized by an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that interferes with a young person’s functioning.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Pervasive Developmental Disorder is characterized by autistic-type behavior because the child/adolescent may hand flap, repeat statements, as well as experience delayed social, speech and/or motor development. If a child is not responding to ADHD treatment, it is recommended that a more comprehensive ADHD assessment be completed to assess for the possibility of a pervasive developmental disorder.

Central Auditory Processing and Hearing Problems

Central Auditory Processing and Hearing Problems is a disorder that can look similar to ADHD because a child/adolescent struggles to hear, listen and focus. It may look as though the child has difficulty focusing when in fact he/she is actually not able to hear or is not able to process auditory information well.

Bipolar Disorder

Children who are diagnosed with ADHD may also have bipolar disorder (or children who have Bipolar Disorder may be mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD). Bipolar Disorder is marked by periods of depression, mania, and/or hypomania. The combination of ADHD and Bipolar can cause the child/adolescent to present as more aggressive.

Anxiety Disorder

It has been noted that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the most common anxiety disorder to accompany ADHD and may even share a similar genetic component.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disturbances are commonly associated with ADHD.

ADHD and ADD Symptoms

Childhood ADHD is diagnosed after a child has shown six or more specific symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity on a regular basis for more than six months in more than two settings.

The symptoms of ADHD and ADD are often split into three main categories:


Having a short attention span and being easily distracted. Some common examples of inattention type behaviors include:

      • Easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds
      • Bouncing from one activity to another
      • Easily bored
      • Frequent forgetting
      • Procrastination
      • Zoning out in the middle of a conversation or task
      • Difficulty paying attention or focusing when in conversation or when engaged in a task
      • Difficulty completing or following through on tasks
      • Overlooking details, leading to errors
      • Poor listening skills
      • Difficulty remembering conversations or following directions
      • Hyper-focus (a tendency to become absorbed in tasks that are stimulating and rewarding)


Spontaneous behaviors without much thought for the consequences. These behaviors may cause a person to do inappropriate or harmful things. Some common examples of impulsive behavior include:

      • Interrupts others
      • Talks over others
      • Poor self-control
      • Can be rude or inappropriate without thinking
      • Addictive tendencies
      • Reckless behaviors
      • Can be perceived as socially inappropriate (e.g., trouble sitting still, blurting out comments)


Inappropriate or excessive activity. Some common examples of hyperactive behavior include:

      • Restlessness
      • Agitation
      • Easily bored
      • Racing thoughts
      • Fidgety
      • Risk-taking
      • Pressured and excessive speech

Although many people experience one or more of these types of behaviors throughout their lifetime, some people experience them to such a degree that it becomes difficult to function effectively across different situations (e.g., school, work, home, relationships). Overall, the symptoms of ADHD or ADD may range from mild to severe and can vary depending on the situation (e.g., the child or teen may struggle more at school than he/she does at home).

Causes of ADHD and ADD

There is no one definitive cause for ADHD and ADD. Research indicates that ADHD and ADD are most commonly inherited and thus has a genetic component. Researchers have also linked ADHD and ADD to children whose mothers smoked or used substances during their pregnancy.

Commonality of ADHD and ADD

Approximately 3 to 5 percent of school-aged children are diagnosed with ADHD and approximately 60% of those individuals maintain the disorder into adulthood.

Diagnosis of ADHD and ADD

Although most people experience one or more symptoms of ADHD behaviors throughout their lifetime, some people experience them to such a degree that it becomes difficult to function effectively across different situations (e.g., school, home, social situations). This group of symptoms can impact children and adolescents and usually looks different depending on the individual’s age:

Preschool Aged Children:

Since inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity are expected behaviors of preschool children, ADHD is often hard to identify in young children. Usually, the distinguishing factor from normal behavior is the severity and consistency, across settings, of the symptoms.

Elementary School Children:

Since there are more expectations placed on elementary school children (e.g., being able to complete homework, working with others, sitting still and listening in class), ADHD symptoms tend to be more noticeable among this age group. Often children with these problems have trouble achieving in school, may have difficulty with peers, struggle with low self-esteem because of the academic and social difficulties, and may present with poor organizational and study skills.

Middle School / High School:

Teenagers who present with ADHD often look very different than young children with ADHD, because they have learned to control their disruptive behaviors. However, teenagers who have not learned the strategies to cope with the other aspects of ADHD (such as inattention and impulsivity) may demonstrate significant decline in their ability to manage their responsibilities in school and subsequently may struggle with self-esteem, and possibly social problems.

As increased demands and pressure are placed on the high school student (e.g., college, issues related to self-efficacy), anxiety and depression may emerge. Proper diagnosis, treatment and coaching are invaluable for children and teens who suffer from symptoms of ADHD and ADD. Learning strategies to deal with problems of inattention and developing skills to manage problems with impulsivity and hyperactivity can be life changing. Treatment may mean the difference between feeling effective as a student and feeling inadequate.

ADHD and ADD Treatment

At Equilibria Kids in Philadelphia we offer coaching, therapy, and referral services geared toward helping the individuals we work with harness their strengths and develop the skills necessary to function successfully. All children’s ADHD and ADD treatment begins with a comprehensive evaluation, either done through the course of therapy or a more comprehensive and formalized psychoeducational evaluation, to determine a proper diagnosis and to aid in individualized ADHD or ADD treatment planning.

Schedule An Appointment

If you would like to meet or talk with one of our child psychologists or therapists in Philadelphia about our ADHD and ADD treatment services, please call us at (267) 861-3685, option 1; or fill out our online form.