Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)


Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is the predominantly inattentive subtype of ADHD which is a neurological condition affecting the neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. This subtype does not include the symptom of hyperactivity associated with ADHD but mainly affects an individual’s ability to focus. Although this conditions affects all ages, it is most prominent in school aged children. ADD is incredibly treatable but, in many cases, difficult to diagnose.


The hyperactive form of ADHD is easily noticed through disruptive or hyperactive behaviour. This is not the case with the inattentive subtype of ADD as the individual in this case is likely to struggle silently. This can lead to frustration for teachers, parents and, of course, the individual themselves.

The main effect of ADD is a difficulty to focus in specific environments. The difficulty here is that the condition may be selective with the individual showing symptoms in some areas but not in others. A common example of this is difficulty focusing on schoolwork but normal focus in other areas such as sport or videogames.

This often leads to difficulty in completing work, flitting from task to task and apparent forgetfulness. These symptoms can be a source of frustration as they are often seen as disobedient or undisciplined traits rather than as a condition which is highly treatable. As the individual is unlikely to be displaying any hyperactive traits, the possibility of a disorder is overlooked in many cases.

The disorder is linked with traits such as low self-esteem and stubbornness and may coexist with specific mental disorders such as dyspraxia and forms of autism. It is important to note that mixed symptoms from different disorders or traits within one individual may also complicate the diagnosis process.


The most direct way to seek a diagnosis and treatment for ADD is to visit your doctor who will likely refer you to a specialist in the area, usually a psychiatrist or a psychologist. This specialist may then set up assessments to determine the presence of a disorder. More than one assessment may be necessary as symptoms can be selective and not always apparent in every test. It is also possible that a consultation alone will satisfy the criteria for a diagnosis.

The most important treatment for this disorder is education for the individual, their family and others in positions of support about what exactly the disorder is and how to deal with its symptoms. This will ease frustration for all parties as well as giving the individual a solid support system with a clear understanding of their needs.

It is highly recommended to accept the therapies which are recommended by your specialist. The proven effectiveness on therapy focused on specific areas which might be a struggle is undisputed. Speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and therapists are a few among the many options which specifically cater to the very specific needs of each individual.

Medication is rarely the first option explored in treating ADD but is likely to be suggested at some stage during treatment. Medications used will focus directly on stabilising the chemicals in the brain which are causing the disorder to take hold. The areas targeted are those regions of the brain which control attention and behaviour as these are the areas most affected by ADD.

All in all, the most difficult stage of the process is noticing symptoms and obtaining a diagnosis of ADD. After this, the wide variety of treatments which can be custom fit to the needs of the individual are generally highly effective and will aid the individual in reaching their maximum potential.

David Clarke