Question: Dr. Dobson, I understand that I can't diagnose my own son, but it would be helpful if you would list the kinds of behavior to look for in a child who may have ADD. You've described the condition in general terms, but what are the specific characteristics of someone who has this disorder?
Answer: Hallowell and Ratey, authors of an excellent text entitled Driven to Distraction, list twenty symptoms that are often evident in a person with ADD or ADHD. They are:
Suggested Diagnostic Criteria for Attention Deficit Disorder
- A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one's goals (regardless of how much one has accomplished)
- Difficulty getting organized
- Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started
- Many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow-through
- Tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark
- An ongoing search for high stimulation
- A tendency to be easily bored
- Easy distractibility, trouble focusing attention, tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or a conversation, often coupled with an ability to focus at times
- Often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent
- Trouble going through established channels, following proper procedure
- Impatient; low tolerance for frustration
- Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as in impulsive spending of money, changing plans, enacting new schemes or career plans, and the like
- Tendency to worry needlessly, endlessly; tendency to scan the horizon looking for something to worry about alternating with inattention to or disregard for actual dangers
- Sense of impending doom, insecurity, alternating with high risk-taking
- Depression, especially when disengaged from a project
- Tendency toward addictive behavior
- Chronic problems with self-esteem
- Inaccurate self-observation
- Family history of ADD, manic-depressive illness, depression, substance abuse, or other disorders of impulse control or mood.
From Dr. James Dobson’s Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide.