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The Many Faces of ADD/ADHD 

For many years, when people thought of ADD, the picture that came to mind was of a hyperactive, troublemaking little boy, running around causing a lot of problems. In reality ADD is much more diverse than this and has many more dimensions than this common stereotyped picture. 

The stereotype described above developed when ADD became synonymous with these overt behaviors: not being able to pay attention, having an overactive activity level, and impulsively acting out.

These disruptive behaviors were impossible to miss. 

We used to believe that children with these behaviors outgrew their ADD when they became adults.

What we eventually learned was that a large percentage of them continued to struggle as adults. What really diminished for many adults, was not their ADD, but their hyperactivity. Even though their difficulties were often less visible as adults, their disregulated attentional system caused them just as many perplexing and frustrating problems. 

In addition, only recently has the public started to become aware that there is another entire group of adults with ADD who never were hyperactive. These people, largely consisting of women, continue to be underidentified in childhood, and often remain undiagnosed as adults. 


1. ADD with hyperactivity (ADHD). Those with ADHD are the speedy, hyper, bounce- off-the-wall people. 

2. ADD without hyperactivity (ADD w/o). These individuals can be dreamy, work slowly, move slowly, and be underactive. To confuse matters further, when we refer to both groups, since they share many similar symptoms and experiences, it is common to call them both ADD. 

ADD does not = a Deficit of Attention instead it means Attention Irregularity and Inconsistency. This includes difficulties with: Distractibility, excessive shifting of attention, activating, deploying, and directing one's attention, containing and maintaining one's attention, 
and contrary to the meaning of deficit,...

There are many positives with ADD, including a suplus of ideas, creativity, excitement, and interest which accompany this kind of mind. 

ADD does not = Hyperactivity instead it means a Dis-regulation of activity and arousal levels, extremes of activity levels from high to low, from hyperactive to "hypoactive", or what is called overly underactive. 

ADD does not = Impulsive Troublemaking instead it can be a quieter, less obvious kind of impulsivity, with excessive shifting of tasks or life directions. 

What we call ADD is often confusing because ADD looks and feels so different for each person. 
ADD without appears differently on the outside from the more commonly understood and more easily seen ADHD. It also feels very different on the inside. It is not a mild case of ADD, however. Both forms of ADD share the same core difficulties but are experienced and expressed in various ways, with different effects in one's life. They are just as extreme, but at opposite ends of the ADD spectrum. The important thing to remember is that none of us has perfect control of our attention, regulation of our activity, or impulses. However, there are varying degrees of symptoms that are extreme, chronic and severe. 

It's also important to know that a person can have these symptoms and not have ADD. Occasionally, changes in our lives, ie. divorce, loss of a job, being under a great deal of stress, may cause symptoms of disorganization, depression, distractibility and feeling bad about yourself for awhile. To have ADD these symptoms must be there most of the time and for a long time.

Jasper Goldberg Scale