The Different Types, or Styles, of ADHD

Research literature, recent books, and common sense, all point to the fact that there are different types, or styles, of ADHD. In the past we referred to Attention Deficit Disorder: Inattentive Type, or Impulsive/Hyperactive Type, or a Combined Type. Today the diagnostic differences are a bit less clear, but the reality doesn't change.

Dr. Daniel Amen has written a great book on the subject, titled "Healing ADHD:The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 6 Types of ADD" where he uses his SPECT scans of patient's brain activity to help in making his six classifications. His classifications include these "Types" ...

  • Classic ADD - Inattentive, distractible, disorganized. Perhaps hyperactive, restless and impulsive. Inattentive ADD - Inattentive, and disorganized.
  • Over-focused ADD - Trouble shifting attention, frequently stuck in loops of negative thoughts, obsessive, excessive worry, inflexible, oppositional and argumentative.
  • Temporal Lobe ADD - Inattentive and irritable, aggressive, dark thoughts, mood instability, very impulsive. May break rules, fight, be defiant, and very disobedient. Poor handwriting and trouble learning are common.
  • Limbic System ADD - Inattentive, chronic low-grade depression, negative, low energy, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
  • Ring of Fire ADD - Inattentive, extremely distractible, angry, irritable, overly sensitive to the environment, hyperverbal, extremely oppositional, possible cyclic moodiness.

Our classifications at the ADHD Information Library are a bit different, and are based on our clinical observation and experiences. They are based on the classic children's stories of Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.

  • Winnie the Pooh Type ADD - Pooh Bear is inattentive, distractible, and disorganized. He is very nice, but lives in a cloud.
  • Tigger Type ADD - Tigger is inattentive to details, impulsive, hyperactive, restless, very bouncy. He is the classic hyperactive child.
  • Eeyore Type ADD - Eeyore is inattentive, but also lives with a chronic low-grade depression. Lots of people with ADHD do also. In fact some studies suggest that as many as 25% of people with ADHD also battle depression to some degree or another.
  • Piglet Type ADD - Piglet has trouble shifting attention from one activity to another, is excessively worried, and is easily startled.
  • Rabbit Type ADD - Rabbit has trouble shifting attention, he seems inflexible, he must have his own way, and he can be argumentative if he doesn't get his way.
  • Troubled Type ADD - Irritable, aggressive, impulsive, defiant, disobedient. Learning problems.

Each of these types of ADHD (using either Amen's system or ours) will have different treatment needs and approaches. You can learn more about each type of ADHD, and read our recommended treatment programs for each type.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.

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