A.D.D. VS. ADHD: Yes, there is a difference!

(The following takes place in the super market.  Mary is wearing a shirt that says “I have A.D.D. Ask me about it!”  She is about to leave the market when a fellow shopper tapes her on the shoulder)

Stranger:  Excuse me, I see by your shirt that you have A.D.D

Mary: Yes

Stranger:  I saw you in the market and I must commend you on your behavior.

Mary:  Excuse me?

Stranger: Well you didn’t lose your temper when that lady cut you in line.

Mary: (thinking,) yeah, because people with A.D.D can be pretty timid.  Yes but….

Stranger: You didn’t lose your patience in line either

Mary:  True but….

Stranger: And you weren’t interrupting anyone or talking loudly.

Mary:  You have my A.D.D confused with ADHD.  Also, those with A.D.D or ADHD tend to be very creative….

Stranger: Wait, aren’t A.D.D and ADHD the same?

Me:  Hardly


Hi Readers!

                No, that event never happened.  However, my close friends who know I have A.D.D normally confuse it with ADHD.  In fact, most of the countries’ population assume that A.D.D is the same as ADHD.  In reality, the two are extremely different.  Even some doctors confuse the two disorders.

                Since my doctor said it will be at least another week before I get the result of my brain mapping, I thought I would use this week’s blog to talk about the difference between A.D.D and ADHD. 

                As previously stated, I have Attention Deficit Disorder.  My cousin, Clark, has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  Both disorders are hereditary, affect learning and can be treated (note: treated NOT cured) with medication and/or behavior treatment. On the positive side, A.D.D/ADHD causes people to become very creative.  

                That is where the similarities end.  Down below, you will see the difference between A.D.D and ADHD in children and adults.  Further more, you will see how our different disorders affected Clark and myself as children and as adults.

Childhood A.D.D: socially withdrawn, appear shy, constantly daydreaming.         

Mary’s Childhood: In elementary school, I was very shy and sensitive.  I liked playing by myself instead of playing with others.  Even at my sixth birthday party, it felt like work trying to get the nerve to talk to my classmates.  I felt so insecure!

         I always wanted to please my teacher so I was very polite and a hard worker.  Yet no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop daydreaming in class and I couldn’t work as fast as my classmates.  After I was diagnosed, one of my accommodations was to have my homework and classwork cut in half.  Being on Ritalin helped me be able to concentrate in class.  I hated being on medicine.  It made me feel stupid.  Yet looking back, I would have failed school if it wasn’t for the Ritalin and the accommodations I was given.   Due to the medicine and accommodations, I started to get good grades and progressed to high school, college and graduate school, where I got on the honor roll.


Childhood ADHD: Very talkative, eager to make friends, can’t sit still, acts before thinking.

Clark’s Childhood: Clark was very talkative and enjoyed having a large group of friends to play with.  Clark had trouble sitting still.  He preferred to walk around the room when the teacher was talking.  School work was very boring to Clark.  Although Clark didn’t try to be, he was labeled as a troublemaker by his teacher. 

                At his six year old birthday party, Clark spotted our grandfather through the window walking towards the house.  He was so excited that he ran right through the glass door.  That’s right: Clark was so excited that he forgot to open the door first!  My poor cousin spent his birthday in the emergency room.  As far as I know, Clark was never classified as a child.  He was a child of the 70’s so not much was known about ADHD.  Despite his difficulties, Clark was never held back a grade and went to high school, college and graduate school.


Adulthood ADD: Sluggish behavior, slow to complete tasks, hate change in routine.

                      Mary’s Adulthood: Although I concentrate well, I am still slow when it comes to getting my work done.  I could disclose my disability but even Dr. Kathleen G. Nadeau, author of ADD in the Work Place advises that those with A.D.D/ADHD should seek accommodation only as a last resort because “A.D.D. is an invisible disability that is poorly understood and often interpreted negatively by employers.  If you are having difficulty functioning on the job and then decide to disclose you’re A.D.D, you run the risk of being seen in an even more negative light (Nadeau, pg. 204).”(1)

                Since I cannot finish my work as quickly as my peers, my employment normally only lasts for about a year. For this reason I have had eight different jobs in six years.


ADHD- Risk taker, energetic, yearn for change in order to keep from being bored.

Clark’s Adulthood: Yes, Clark was a risk taker.  Unlike popular belief, this did not mean doing drugs, driving recklessly or committing a crime.  Clark took a risk by leaving his job as a stock broker and started his own business being a finical advisor.  He has done quite well for himself as an entrepreneur and lives with his wife and children upstate.


                I find it ironic that I was viewed as a teacher’s pet in school and lazy in the work world while Clark was viewed as a trouble maker in school and a fast genius in the work world.  While both disorders sound the same, they are very different. 


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