How can you tell if a child is having trouble because of problems such as stress or family problems or if its really ADD?

When diagnosing ADD, we always begin by asking ourselves what could be causing inattentive, distracted, impulsive, and hyperactive symptoms. Learning disabilities can make learning and school work very difficult for a child, which can lead to behavior problems at school and when involved in school-type work. A child with a learning disability who appears to have ADD when involved in schoolwork, often will not have any of the difficulties when doing chores or playing with friends or in clubs or sports. In addition, other mental health problems such as childhood depression, anxiety disorders, and certain perceptual disorders can present in ways similar to ADD. Stress events in the home can significantly interfere with a child’s ability to maintain optimal functioning and can lead to significant achievment and behavior problems.

Without some form of counseling, either at church or with an adult friend or therapist, we expect children to have difficulty dealing with family stressors such as a death, divorce, or if a parent looses a job. However, ADD is a neurological condition which in most cases is present since birth. Therefore, features are present regardless of what else is occurring in that child’s life.

Symptoms show up in many different situations (such as at school, at home, at camp) and occur year after year. Stress or different conditions (such as unstructured activities) may make these symptoms worse. In children with ADD, it is not unusual to see more extreme reactions to stressors than with other children.

What is ADD?
Classroom Modifications for ADD and ADHD
Counseling and Education for Children with ADD or ADHD
What Conditions Might Be Confused With ADD?
What Conditions Commonly Co-Exist With ADD?
How can you tell if a child is having trouble because of problems such as stress or family problems or if it’s really ADD?
How can you tell if a child with learning disabilities also has ADD?
National Resources for ADD and ADHD Information
Recommended Reading

Referring to this article:
“Attention Deficit Disorder: What is ADD?” was written by C. J. Newton, MA, Learning Specialist and published in the Find (formerly Mental Health Journal in July, 1997. Parts of the article were published at the ADD/LD Resource Center web site (, owned and operated by the Institute for ADD and Learning, in 1995. C. J. Newton was the co-founder of the Institute for ADD and Learning, along with Sandra Scheinbaum, Ph.D. That web site no longer exists.

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