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Diagnosis & Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Diagnosis of attention deficit disorder

There is no physical test to identify such kids. No blood test, no lab test. No X-ray or scanning can detect it. The child looks normal in physical appearance. There are, however, certain symptoms that suggest that the child has ADD. These symptoms are to be noticed in the behavior of the child. The degree and effect of the symptoms may vary from child to child.

To diagnose a child with ADD:

  • The symptoms must appear before seven years of age and persist at least for six months.
  • The symptoms create noticeable problem in at least more than two settings and situations. Such as school, playground, home, party etc.
  • The possibility of other behavioral disorder should be carefully ruled out for right diagnosis of ADD.

It is a little difficult to identify ADD kids because they do not create any disturbance to anybody. They are inattentive, passive, quiet and cooperative.

Rule out any other similar looking behaviors first. There are many behaviors that mimic ADD.

ADD-inattentive type does not involve hyperactivity, which is a key symptom of children suffering from ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’ or ADHD. ADHD is very much different from ADD.


  • Concentration is the major problem with these kids. They can’t hold their attention on any thing for more than a little while. Anything means anything … except those activities in which the child has special interest. It may be any thing said or even shown. It may be studies, game, conversation etc.
  • They are less attentive to important things, such as teachers' instructions; but more attentive to less important things, such as room temperature, sweating, sound of a fan, air-conditioner, chirping of birds outside etc.
  • Very sensitive to smell. They easily get distracted by smells.
  • Very sensitive to physical touch sensations such as the feeling of shirt’s tag against their skin etc.
  • Don’t like things which require continuous attention or mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework.
  • They are either very impulsive or difficult to satisfy easily.
  • Nothing seems to make them happy except a few things in which they are really interested.
  • Easily get bored with things.
  • Start many things but leave most of them incomplete. They keep shifting from one thing to another without completing any of them.
  • Find it difficult to complete the home work, school work or chores.
  • Seem to be unmotivated to finish a job.
  • Find it difficult to maintain long term relation with their friends, classmates etc.
  • Often lost in their own imaginations and daydreaming.
  • Appear confused, lost in thought, preoccupied or may seem to be drowsy.
  • Sometimes they do not seem to listen when we talk to them directly.
  • Working pace is usually very slow than their peers. They don’t seem to have a good idea of ‘time’.
  • Might find it difficult to catch a ball thrown at them directly.
  • Easily forget important words, phrases, rhymes, daily activities etc. If you ask them what happened in the English class … they find it difficult to recollect and answer immediately.
  • Most of the times, they fail to understand the instructions clearly. If they do, they find it difficult to follow.
  • Easily feel overburdened with not so much information given in a chapter, books, copies, class-work, home-work, multiple and complicated instructions.
  • Organizing things and activities is a difficult task.
  • Difficulty in arranging their school bags. They usually forget to keep their belongings with them and easily loose them.
  • Making careless mistakes very often.
  • Infants and toddlers with ADD are crying all the time without any significant reason and are difficult to be soothed. They are fussy eaters, very sensitive to touch, usually have to be taken to doctor more often than their peers. They have very frequent infections and colics. They have lots of sleep disturbances.


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