- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
- Predominantly inattentive
- Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive
Research is clear that ADHD has a real, brain-based cause and also has a genetic component. It is not caused by parenting styles or food allergies, although environmental toxins may be a factor in its occurrence. Co-morbidities, conditions that are often diagnosed in individuals with ADHD, include anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities.
While diagnosis of ADHD is generally made by looking at the how many symptoms occur in various settings -- such as both at home and at school -- it is important to take a nuanced look at what is going in an individual before deciding on a diagnosis and before determining the appropriate treatment. For example, a student who is struggling to process what is going on in his classroom because of a language disability may appear to be inattentive, when the difficulty is actually a learning problem, not ADHD. Only by addressing the language processing difficulty will this student be able to attend properly in his classroom.
What about treatment? This needs to be an individualized decision, especially for children. There are many medications that can be effective in helping with ADHD symptoms, and the National Institutes of Mental Health has a good explanation of what these are. But these medications can have side effects and parents may want to consider behavioral strategies before they decide whether medication is the best choice for their child. It is crucial that parents work with a physician with experience with these medications to make the right decision for their child.