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September 10, 2023

Attention Deficit Disorder and Behavior

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

  1.  A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one's goals (regardless of how much one has accomplished)
  2.  Difficulty getting organized
  3.  Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started
  4.  Many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow-through
  5.  Tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark
  6.  An ongoing search for high stimulation
  7.  A tendency to be easily bored
  8.  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
  9.  Often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent
  10.  Trouble going through established channels, following proper procedure
  11.  Impatient; low tolerance for frustration
  12.  Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as in impulsive spending of money, changing plans, enacting new schemes or career plans, and the like
  13.  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
  14.  Sense of impending doom, insecurity, alternating with high risk-taking
  15.  Depression, especially when disengaged from a project
  16.  Restlessness
  17.  Tendency toward addictive behavior
  18.  Chronic problems with self-esteem
  19.  Inaccurate self-observation
  20.  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.

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