ADD was first described by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman in 1845. As a physician who wrote books on medicine and psychiatry, Dr. Hoffman was also a poet who became interested in writing for children when he couldn't find suitable materials to read to his 3-year-old son. The result was a book of poems, complete with illustrations, about children and their characteristics. "The Story of Fidgety Philip" was an accurate description of a little boy who had attention deficit disorder. Yet it was not until 1902 that Sir George F. Still published a series of lectures to the Royal College of Physicians in England in which he described a group of impulsive children with significant behavioral problems, caused by a genetic dysfunction and not by poor child rearing -- children who today would be easily recognized as having ADD. Since then, several thousand scientific papers on the disorder have been published, providing information on its nature, course, causes, impairments, and treatments.
ADD, which is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood, occurs in 3 percent to 5 percent of school-age children in a 6-month period.
Pediatricians report that approximately 4 percent of their patients have ADD, but in practice, the diagnosis is often made in children who meet some, but not all, of the criteria.
Boys are 2 to 3 times more likely to have ADD than girls are.
This condition is found in all cultures, although prevalences differ; differences are thought to stem more from differences in diagnostic criteria than from differences in presentation.
Key information about this condition includes:
- Attention deficit disorder, or ADD, is an outdated name for ADHD. When used today, ADD refers to a type of ADHD -- predominantly inattentive type (that does not show significant hyperactive-impulsive behavior). In 1994, ADD was changed to ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, in popular conversation, ADD, ADHD, and AD/HD are used interchangeably.
- ADD affects an estimated 4.1 percent of youths ages 9 to 17 in a 6-month period. This means that in a classroom of 25 to 30 children, it is likely that at least 1 child will have attention deficit disorder.
- About 2 to 3 times more boys than girls have ADD.
- Children with untreated ADD have higher than normal rates of injury.
- ADD often co-occurs with other problems, such as depressive and anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, drug abuse, or antisocial behavior.
- Symptoms usually become evident in preschool or early elementary years. The disorder frequently persists into adolescence and occasionally into adulthood.