There’s a clear-cut difference between attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and determining which one fits your child is the first step toward giving them the help they need to succeed.

The team at THINK Neurology for Kids conducts a thorough evaluation, working with you, your child, and, in many cases, your child’s teachers to determine if their challenges are due to ADD, ADHD, or a different developmental or mental health concern.

If you’re like most parents, you wonder about the difference between ADD and ADHD. We wrote this blog to give you a run down and help you identify the different behaviors in your child.


Back in the 1980s, mental health experts working with children who had a hard time paying attention decided to call the condition ADD. But over the years, they realized that many of them also struggled with hyperactivity and impulsivity. That’s when they grouped all three symptoms — inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity — into one group and changed the name to ADHD.

More recently, after studies designed to better clarify the characteristics of ADHD, the American Psychiatric Association changed the definition. As a result, there are now three types of ADHD.

Three types of ADHD

Your child may not have all the symptoms in the following lists, but they may have more than half of them. These are the key characteristics for the three types of ADHD:

Inattentive ADHD

This is the same as ADD, but it’s now called ADHD with inattentive presentation. ADD includes children who can’t pay attention but who don’t have hyperactive or impulsive behaviors. In a nutshell, that’s the difference between ADD and ADHD. 

If your child has inattentive ADHD, they may:

You may wonder how you can tell ADD symptoms apart from normal child-like behaviors, but it’s typically easy for parents to identify. Whether children have ADD or ADHD, their behaviors don’t happen occasionally like they would for most kids. Instead, you’ll notice that their inability to pay attention is an ongoing and persistent problem. 

Additionally, their ADD or ADHD behaviors are severe enough to affect their success at school, often make it hard for them to play with friends, and disrupt family life. 

Hyperactive and impulsive ADHD

If your child doesn’t have problems paying attention but they’re often hyperactive and impulsive, they have ADHD with hyperactivity and impulsivity presentation.

When children have this type of ADHD they:

In ADHD (and ADD), your child’s behaviors are noticed in more than one setting. For example, they may struggle at home, school, work, with friends or relatives, or in other community activities. 

Combined ADHD

When children have symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, they have combined ADHD.

If you notice ADD or ADHD symptoms in your child, the next step is to schedule a psychological evaluation. We will get to the bottom of the problem and create a treatment plan that’s customized to help your child overcome their challenges and find success. 

Call our office in The Woodlands, Katy, and Cypress, Texas, or request an appointment online to get started today.

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