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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADD Without Hyperactivity

10/30/1998

Question:

Hello, I hope this didn't get sent twice, apologies if it did. I think I hit a wrong button somewhere on the computer. My daughter was diagnosed in 1981 with ADD w/out Hyperactivity. The dr put her on Cylert but I took her off it after 6 weeks because the list of side effects was scarey and I wasn't sure she really needed to be on meds anyway. I also have a son who is hyperactive and it was really obvious that he needed to be on meds, but my daughter wasn't having the behavior probs etc. that he was so I was skeptical. Well, she's a straight-A student in college, and she took several psychology courses & started asking me about that. To be honest, I'd forgotten about it. But she says that she believes she did have that and still does. She said that when she read about it, it explained a lot of things for her that she'd never understood. I did not know that she was even having problems all this time. Could she really have it and still be such a good student? And what exactly is it? I thought ADD was the same thing as hyperactivity; how can a person have it without hyperactivity? And what are the problems it causes if untreated?

Thank you.

Answer:

I know of a few superb physicians with ADD, some with and some without hyperactivity. Your daughter could certainly have ADD with "A's", although we would usually only see that with someone very bright and unusually committed to their work. One type of person with ADD in this category, for instance, (not necessarily your daughter's concerns---just an example) could be someone with a slow processing speed. S/he could have extremely high committment and other "gifts" that would allow for excellent grades. The major problem area might be with timed tests. That might be helped with a "perfectionist" attitude towards studying. If that person had a way to speed up their processing speed they might have more time to add to the creative and intelliectual knowledge gained during and given to their studies and work. Stimulants can sometimes help with this problem., If your daughter continues taking psychology course she will likely encounter the kind of testing that looks at such things. She may or may not benefit from medication.

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati