A common misconception, when it comes to Attention Deficit Disorder, is that it is one in the same with hyperactivity. However, this is far from the truth. While people with ADD may exhibit signs of hyperactivity, it is not an inherent trait of the disorder and often does not occur with sufferers of ADD.
Hyperactivity is a general term referring to excessive and/or pathological activeness. This term is often used erroneously for an active person that does not meet the excessive criteria. It is important to understand that all children are active to a certain extent, and that some are even extremely active. However, this does not necessarily constitute hyperactivity. A hyperactive person will seem to be driven to movement, making it almost impossible to sit still. If sitting, they will often fidget or talk excessively as a countermeasure. Hyperactivity is often difficult to assess in adults; however, children are much easier to diagnose.
Attention Deficit Disorder, on the other hand, is exhibited by inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and distractibility, but not necessarily hyperactivity. A child that suffers from ADD may have difficulty completing assignments, paying attention, and/or waiting their turn. In order for any of these behaviors to constitute a disorder, they must be extreme, create difficulty in completing daily activities, and not be appropriate behavior for the age group of the child. They must also occur for an extended period of time, at least six months and be identifiable prior to the age of 7 and continue thereafter.
However, some children with ADD also have hyperactivity, demonstrated as excessive fidgeting, running, and jumping at inappropriate times. They often seem to have an inability to be still. If a child exhibits hyperactivity in addition to Attention Deficit Disorder, they are often termed “ADHD”: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. While many people assume the term ADD is an antiquated version of ADHD, they actually refer to two different types of disorders.
In all, there are typically three variations of ADD or ADHD. These are (1) inattentive type, (2) hyperactive-impulsive type, and (3) combination. Obviously the inattentive type exhibits a difficulty in paying attention and completing activities, but is not hyperactive. These children tend to be more difficult to diagnose. On the other hand, the hyperactive-impulsive type is extremely active and has a difficulty controlling their behavior. Of course, the third type is a combination of the two previous types and displays inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.