(Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

What is AD/HD?

The generally accepted definition (as established in the DSM – IV) ofAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, previously known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), distinguishes between three types of attention disorders:

  1. The type primarily characterized by inattention (difficulty sustaining attention to task.)

  2. The type characterized by hyperactivity-impulsivity (excessive fidgeting or talking, difficulty refraining from saying whatever or doing whatever comes to mind) and

  3. The "combined type" in which both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity are present ADD/ADHD are eurobiological disabilities whose characteristics of inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity appear in early childhood. These disabilities are relatively chronic in nature and are not due to other physical, mental or emotional causes.


Diagnosis is made by a psychiatrist, a doctoral level clinical or educational psychologist or a combination thereof. (The SMC Learning Specialist Program and Disabled Student Services cannot make this diagnosis, but does give referrals to qualified practitioners) 

The following five criteria must be met in order for a diagnosis to be made: 

  1. The person must display a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than his/her peers. 

  2. Some of these hyperactive or inattentive behaviors must have been present before age 7 years. 

  3. Some impairment due to the symptoms must be present in at least two settings. (for example: workplace and school) 

  4. There must be clear evidence of interference with developmentally appropriate social, academic or occupational functioning. 

  5. The "disturbance" is not better explained by another disorder, such as schizophrenia, depression, autism, chronic anxiety, etc.

The diagnosis is made through the process of an interview, observation, and questionnaires. Complete medical, developmental and educational histories are taken and evaluated, along with impressions from "significant others" in the person’s life.

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