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ADHD and ADD: Information, Statistics, Research

Updated/Revised Date: 2022-08-12
Author: Disabled World - Contact Details
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On This Page: Summary - Defining Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Main Article - About

Synopsis: Facts and information relating to ADHD and ADD, including symptoms and treatment methods available for children and adults. During their lifetimes, 12.9 percent of men will be diagnosed with an attention disorder. Just 4.9 percent of women will be diagnosed. Investigators note that rates of ADHD persistence into adulthood have varied dramatically in earlier studies, depending on how information is collected and analyzed. Treatment methods usually involve some combination of medications, behavior modifications, lifestyle changes, and counseling. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that stimulant medications and behavior therapy are appropriate and generally safe treatments for ADHD.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by excessive inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that are pervasive, impairing in multiple contexts, and otherwise age-inappropriate. ADHD is associated with other neurodevelopmental and mental disorders and some non-psychiatric disorders, which can cause additional impairment, especially in modern society. Adult ADHD can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems. Treatment for adult ADHD is similar to treatment for childhood ADHD. Adult ADHD treatment includes medications, psychological counseling (psychotherapy), and therapy for any mental health conditions that occur along with ADHD.

Main Document

There are two types of attention deficit disorder (ADD and ADHD), H-standing for Hyperactivity. ADD - is Attention Deficit Disorder Inattentive Type without hyperactivity.



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - Similar to hyperkinetic disorder in the ICD-10) is a developmental neuropsychiatric disorder in which there are significant problems with executive functions (e.g., attentional control and inhibitory control) that cause attention deficits, hyperactivity, or impulsiveness which is not appropriate for a person's age. These symptoms must begin by age six to twelve and persist for more than six months for a diagnosis. In school-aged individuals, inattention symptoms often result in poor school performance.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder predominantly inattentive (ADHD-PI), formerly attention deficit disorder (ADD), is one of the two types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The term was formally changed in 1994 in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), to "ADHD predominantly inattentive" (ADHD-PI or ADHD-I)

ADHD Rainbow Butterfly Symbol

The rainbow butterfly symbol, based on the "rainbow infinity" neurodiversity symbol, grew from conversations on an ADHD Facebook group about what signs and symbols people with ADHD felt best represented them. The butterfly symbol pictured below resonated with many, symbolizing how ADHD minds typically flit from one thing to the next. The rainbow butterfly symbol pictured is a current popular version.

Popular ADHD rainbow butterfly awareness symbol.
Popular ADHD rainbow butterfly awareness symbol.

Neurobehavioral Developmental Disorder

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is usually considered a neurobehavioral developmental disorder.

It affects about 3 - 5% of children with symptoms starting before seven.

It is characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness and inattention, with or without a component of hyperactivity, and occurs twice as commonly in boys as in girls.

ADHD is generally a chronic disorder, with 10 to 40% of individuals diagnosed in childhood continuing to meet diagnostic criteria in adulthood. Adolescents and adults with ADHD will likely develop coping mechanisms to compensate for their impairment as they mature.

Common Symptoms of ADHD

Children who have symptoms of inattention may:

Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:

Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:

If you suspect your child might have ADHD, see your family doctor or pediatrician. Your child's vision, hearing, and anything else that may contribute to inattention should also be checked. The doctor may diagnose ADHD or refer your child to a mental health specialist for evaluation.

Article continues below image.

White fidget spinner balancing on a childs finger.
White fidget spinner balancing on a childs finger.

ADHD Treatments

Treatment methods usually involve some combination of medications, behavior modifications, lifestyle changes, and counseling. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that stimulant medications and behavior therapy are appropriate and generally safe treatments for ADHD.

Many people today believe ADHD is a "condition" that did not exist in the days of good parental discipline and when schools were allowed to apply discipline. The controversies have involved clinicians, teachers, policymakers, parents, and the media, with opinions regarding ADHD that range from not believing it exists at all to believing there are genetic and physiological bases for the condition, and also include disagreement about the use of stimulant medications such as Ritalin used in treatments.

FDA has approved two types of medications, stimulants, and non-stimulants, to help reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve functioning in children as young as age 6. Despite their name, stimulants, which contain various forms of methylphenidate and amphetamine, have a calming effect on hyperactive children with ADHD. They are believed to increase brain levels of dopamine - a neurotransmitter associated with motivation, attention, and movement.

FDA has also approved three non-stimulants to treat the symptoms of ADHD:

These provide a useful alternative for children who do not tolerate stimulants well.

In addition to medication, some children with ADHD receive behavioral therapy to help manage symptoms and provide added coping skills. Moreover, concerned parents can reach out to their children's schools and community support groups for information and guidance on how to cope with ADHD behavior. "It's helpful to engage with the different individuals involved in a child's life when managing the disorder.

Adults and ADHD

Studies suggest that about 4% of adults may have ADHD. For adults, the symptoms are the same as those in children but might show up somewhat differently. Adults with ADHD may have poor time management skills and trouble with multitasking, become restless with downtime, and avoid activities that require sustained concentration.

A diagnosis of ADHD in an adult is given only when it's known that some symptoms were present early in childhood, usually under the age of seven. For some adults, a diagnosis of ADHD can bring a sense of relief. Receiving a diagnosis allows adults to understand the reasons for their problems, and treatment can help them to deal with challenges more effectively.

In a recent study, 60% of children with ADHD demonstrated persistence of symptoms into their mid-20ss, and 41% had both symptoms and impairment as young adults.

Investigators noted that rates of ADHD persistence into adulthood had varied greatly in earlier studies, depending on how information is collected and analyzed. In a 16-year follow-up of the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (the "MTA"), they found that a combination of parent and self-reports plus a symptom threshold that is adjusted for adulthood (rather than based on traditional childhood definitions of ADHD) may be optimal.

There has been a lot of recent controversy over whether children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. This study found that the way you diagnose ADHD can lead to different conclusions about whether an adult still has the disorder that started in childhood. First, if you ask the adult about their continued symptoms, they will often be unaware of them; however, family members or others who know them well often confirm that they still observe significant symptoms in the adult. If the classic childhood definition of ADHD is used when diagnosing adults, many cases will be missed because symptom presentation changes in adulthood. By asking a family member about the adult's symptoms and using adult-based definitions of the disorder, you typically find that around half of the children with moderate to severe ADHD still show significant signs of the disorder in adulthood.

ADHD Facts and Statistics

Studies show the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD continues to increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 11% of children ages 4 to 17 (6.4 million kids) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, up from 7.8% in 2003, according to the CDC. Child psychiatrist Tiffany R. Farchione, M.D., who reviews drugs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ADHD, says that the increase might be due to greater public awareness of the disorder and psychiatric illnesses.

Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. Boys also are more likely to have the hyperactive-impulsive type, which is easier to spot than the quieter inattentive child, says Farchione.

Children are also diagnosed at different ages:

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