Definition of Disorder, attention deficit (ADD)

Disorder, attention deficit (ADD): An inability to control behavior due to difficulty in processing neural stimuli.

In November, 1998 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a consensus report developed by a panel of experts. The panel concluded that:

  • Ritalin and other therapies may correct classroom behavior problems but there is no evidence that this improves a child's academic performance.

Although there is no independent, validated test for ADD, some well-tested diagnostic interview methods have proved useful.

  • Short-term trials of Ritalin and other drugs show beneficial effects on some behaviors and are superior to behavior modification training. Combining the two resulted in improved social skills.
  • Numerous other treatments have been tried, including vitamins, herbs, biofeedback and eliminating some foods such as sugar. None have proved effective.
  • Doctors and schools usually do a poor job of communicating and coordinating when treating children with ADD and follow-up often is poor. Teachers and parents can play a key role in successfully treating ADD.


Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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