ADD: does It really exist?

All the symptoms do.

I recently read an article by a classically diagnosed ADHD woman, in which she referenced ADD, not as a lack of attention but rather a challenge with attention allocation. Hyper-focus, which I have known about for some time now, is a classic symptom of ADHD which I now recognize as an allocation of attention. Living with two ADD brains (the verdict is still out on mine), this has been an amazing aha! But of course! It makes WAY too much sense. Brilliant!

For months I have been trying to relocate that clear-sighted, wise article only to turn up empty-handed. I had yet to hear anyone else reference the (lack of) “deficit” in ADD until the other day when reading Simplicity Parenting.

Shortly following, I listened to a presentation by Dr. Russel Barkley who claims, our problem in appropriately conveying the seriousness of the disorder stem from the name itself.

I actually take issue with this label because I feel there is no deficit of attention in kids diagnosed with ADD. There is an excess of attention really…The acronym that I think more appropriately describes the syndrome is API: attention priority issue.

Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting

At its heart, at it’s soul, it is a disorder of self-regulation, not one of attention. And that is a serious disorder. More appropriately, it would be names EFSD: Executive Functioning Skills Disorder.

Dr. Russell Barkley


Nature never hurries. Atom by atom, little by little, she achieves her work.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

ADD Symptoms (or API or EFSD as I now call it)

According to Dr. Daniel Amen, there are 7 Types of ADD. It is also known that no two humans (or any living being for that matter) are alike. Therefore it is safe to say that no one person will exhibit all these symptoms but, in general terms, here are the key traits of ADD brains.

Executive functioning skills seem to be a huge part of ADD, according to my ongoing personal research. This basically means, what’s happening in the brain when we ask it to multi-task. It’s the ability to think ahead and organize; to ask “what should I do first?” People with ADD and executive functioning skills have been found to be about 25-30% behind their calendar age so, a 7-year-old with ADD would have the executive functioning skills of a 5-year-old, a 15-year-old those of an 11-year-old, and a 35-year-old those of a 26-year-old.

Inattentive/Distractible: This is a widely recognized symptom which seems to show up in many of the ADD types. Without the hyperactivity, however, many people with Inattentive symptoms tend to go undiagnosed for longer. What I’ve learned is actually happening here is, not so much an increase in distraction but rather a lack of self control in responding to the distraction.

Hyperactivity is prevalent in classic ADD (AKA ADHD). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boys are three times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than girls, despite girls being equally susceptible. This seems to be because girls tend to show more internalized symptoms such as inattentiveness whereas boys often show externalized symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsivity. However, not ADD boys are hyper (or impulsive) and some girls are so, I believe it’s more about the type of ADD which gets detected early vs the type that does not. Classic ADHD is probably the easiest to detect. By adulthood, however, hyperactivity is usually no longer part of the equation.

Impulsivity: This often seems to go with hyperactivity but not always. My husband seems to be impulsive but not hyper so I do believe they can exist on their own. This does not mean, however, that he is impulsive or “risky” in all areas of his life. In fact, he is a very responsible adult with impulse control issues in a few small life categories. But, impulsivity can lead to the notion of inattentiveness when in fact, it’s not really about the the distraction but rather then inability to control the impulse to RESPOND to the distraction.

Disorganized: Not all ADD brains seem to be disorganized (in fact some have OCD) but it does seem to be a pretty common symptom. I believe this goes back to the executive functioning skills.

Procrastination: Many people with ADD procrastinate or have a hard time getting started and this can actually be associated with self-regulation. Find out what kind of procrastinator you are and ways to combat it in this ADDitude Mag. article.

Anxiety/Depression/Apathy: Feeling overly anxious, sad, or indifferent are common for ADD brains.

Low Self-Esteem/Negativity: Some people with ADD tend to get stuck in negative thoughts and always think the worst. Low self-esteem is another ADD symptom that can sometimes stem from a lack of tools for managing other symptoms.

Hyperfocus, a common — but confusing — symptom of ADHD, is the ability to zero in intensely on an interesting project or activity for hours at a time. It is the opposite of distractibility, and it is common among both children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.


After living in an ADD house (and ADHD), I agree with Kim John Payne. At home, we now joke about our APIs. When our son refuses to put an activity away — when he becomes hyper fixated on it to the point of frustration, refusing to take a break, my husband and I exchange looks. “Attention priority” we whisper. When he complains about sitting still for more than a few minutes or starts talking a mile a minute procrastinating getting ready for bed? API

Of course, some of this can be chalked up to good old childhood. Yet there is something a little “extra”. When I’m running late for an appointment because I swore I could squeeze in one more paragraph of my blog— again? Attention priority. When my husband is so engrossed in his podcasts he becomes oblivious to the numerous attention-grabbing attempts by his family? Yes, we live in an API house, and day by day, year by year, we are developing the tools necessary for us to thrive and be our best selves.

Do you live in an API house too? What other symptoms have you noticed?


7 Types of ADD
Nutrition and ADD
What is ADHD and How Does It Affect Your Home Learner?
10 Ways To Help Your Child Effectively Set Priorities and Manage Their Time
10 Strategies To Improve Working Memory
8 Tips For Helping A Struggling Reader
Creating Your Unique Homeschool: How Start Homeschooling
Homeschool Books That Will Change How You Homeschool
My 7-Year-Old Son On Homeschooling

Your Home Based Learning Road Map

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