What is ADHD/ADD?



ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a medical/neurobiological condition. The brain’s neurotransmitter chemicals, noradrenalin and dopamine do not work properly. It is a genetic and long-term condition which affects learning and behaviour and possibly into adulthood. It is more common in boys than girls, as girls then to have ADD and may appear to live in dreamer’s world. The girls may go undiagnosed as a result as they are less likely to be as disruptive as those with ADHD.

ADHD  can co-exist with any or other disorders such as dyslexia, autism, asperger’s, learning disorder, dyspraxia, conduct disorder, oppositional defiance disorder. It can, without proper identification, treatment and management,  have serious and long lasting consequences and/or complications for an individual.

Three core behaviours and problems ADHD/ADD can cause?

ADHD/ADD has three core behaviours:

  • Predominantly inattentive type – problems of attention, distractibility, short-term memory and learning.
  • Predominantly hyperactive type – impulsive, poorly self-monitored behaviour.
  • Combined type – most children with ADHD/ADD fall into this category.


  • Easily distracted
  • Flit from task to task, failing to complete what they have started.
  • Slow in completing school work and forgetting instructions.
  • Inattentiveness can be confusing because the child who is  inattentive while doing schoolwork may be focused when playing video games, carrying out practical procedures or when being tested by a psychologist.
  • Inattention to verbal instructions and a short-term memory are also associational problems.


  • They talk over the top of others
  • Tend to be accident-prone and have very short fuses
  • Answering questions in class even before the question has been completely asked.
  • Act without malice and without forethought, which can lead to problems in the playground
  • Do not learn from the consequences of their behaviour.
  • These children may escalate out of control when their behaviour is handled insensitively.
  • Teachers and parents may not understand why someone can act so inappropriately.


  • In primary school they are Restless, fidgety, have difficulty remaining seated and find it hard to stop talking.
  • If they can remain seated, they fiddle, tapp their fingers / feet, and looking around at everyone.
  • In the playground, they act like they have been released from captivity.
  • When they return to the classroom, they find it even more difficult to settle back down.
  • In secondary school, some retain the high level of physical activity.
  • Many will be able to remain seated for the 40-minute class and generally their hyperactivity seems to have lessened.
  • They are generally still noisier and more talkative than their peers.
  • The fiddling, scribbling and touching everything can also remain at quite a high level.
  • The combination of hyperactivity with impulsiveness makes children with ADD/ADHD very difficult to manage. They can be demanding in class and even behave dangerously when outside.
  • They may seem thoughtless, selfish and rude, so they may be unpopular with other children.

Associated Behaviours

  • Low self esteem
  • Stubbornness
  • Persistence
  • Social clumsiness / poor social skills / relationship problems
  • Emotional over-arousal
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Variability
  • Poor Co-ordination
  • Disorganisation
  • Poor time management
  • Specific learning difficulties
  • Motivation difficulties

Assessment for ADHD/ADD

  • The professional – usually an  Educational Psychologist to start with -will compile a case history, including when symptoms began and for how long they persisted.
  • Parents and teachers usually help with this assessment for those under 18 years old by filling out questionnaires.
  • In adults, information from an external source, such as a parent or sibling would also be useful to assess the individual’s history and the effects of symptoms at different stages of the person’s life.
  • Assessments often include medical and psychological evaluations to rule out other issues or to seek clarification in the case of coexisting conditions.
  •  There are strict diagnostic criteria for ADD/ADHD which draws the line of demarcation between ADHD and other conditions.
  • ADHD will affect everyone differently, and people with ADHD often have additional coexisting (or comorbid) difficulties or disorders, such as learning disorders, so assessments must be flexible and adapt to the specific individual.

Treatments for ADHD

  • Educate the individual, family, and others (e.g., teachers)
  • Medication
  • Behaviour Therapy
  • Parenting courses are extremely helpful for parents to learn all they can about heir child’s disability.
  • Coaching
  • Speech and Language Therapy (SLT)
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Talk Therapy (or psychotherapy)
  • Educational Supports / interventions
  • Support Group for the parents usually set up locally by other parents.

Our offices offer support to parents of children who have ADHD/ADD. Our services include education on understanding what type of disability your child has, coming to terms with having a disabled child and advice on how to be an advocate for your child in the future.

For further information call our offices on 089 4373641


Further Help & support:

http://hadd.ie: operates a phone-line and email service providing information, advice and support to people with ADHD, their families, carers, teachers and medical practitioner.








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