Inattentive Type ADHD: What are the Symptoms and How is it Treated?

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ADHD - DSM-IV Classification

ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is the term which is interchangeably used to refer ADD with or without hyperactivity. According to DSM-IV, ADHD has been classified under 3 categories:

  1. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
  2. Predominantly Inattentive Type and
  3. Combined Type (1)

Symptoms of Inattentive Type ADHD

In predominantly inattentive type ADHD, hyperactivity or impulsiveness is absent. The most prevalent symptoms according to DSM-IV diagnostic manual of American Psychiatric Association are:

  • Inability to sustain attention to one particular task
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Inability to complete tasks
  • Inability to focus or listen when spoken to
  • Shifting between tasks without completion
  • Difficulty in organizing tasks
  • Difficulty in processing information
  • Easily distracted by external stimuli
  • Forgetfulness (even of daily activities)
  • Looses things easily
  • Unwillingness to participate in activities or school work that requires concentration and mental effort
  • Day dreaming
  • Becoming easily bored

Children with inattentive type ADHD also often exhibit signs of low-esteem, depression and anxiety.

Prognosis of Inattentive type ADHD

It is usually difficult to identify children with inattentive type ADHD as most of the symptoms are misunderstood as they are similar to normal personality traits in children such as shyness, laziness and inattentiveness. Sometimes inattentive type ADHD is misdiagnosed as a learning disability. Since there is absence of any disruptive behavior or behavioral problems that are prominent, diagnosis of inattentive type ADHD is a challenge.

The symptoms of inattentive type ADHD also often mimic characteristics that are common for everyone. Parents should be concerned when inattention symptoms in children impair the child’s performance at school and daily activities at home. If parents find at least 6 of the above stated symptoms prevalent in their children, then it could be that their child has inattentive type ADHD.

Diagnosis of Inattentive type ADHD

The diagnosis of ADHD is carried out by a psychologist or a psychiatrist or by a pediatric counselor trained in treating ADHD disorders. A diagnosis is made based upon clinical interview, medical examination to rule out medical causes for ADHD, and other screenings to evaluate the possibility of other disorders. Diagnostic scales are based on the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

Treatment of Inattentive type ADHD

The treatment of inattentive type ADHD is similar to other subtypes of ADHD. These include medications, education and behavioral modification programs. Medications that aim to decrease symptoms can have side effects in some people. Hence continuous monitoring and evaluation is required when medication is administered.

Clinical intervention or behavioral modification programs play an important role in treating inattentive type ADHD. These interventions help children’s organizational skills, their management of tasks and study techniques. Counseling may also be given to children suffering from low-esteem, anxiety or depression.


Web4health: ADHD and ADD - Inattentive ADHD Type

Help4adhd: AD/HD Predominantly Inattentive Type

American Psychiatric Association (2001). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press.