ADHD Inattentive Type: Not Your Typical ADD Kind

If you were asked to define what ADHD is, chances are you would immediately use words like “hyperactive”, “impulsive”, “energetic” and “boisterous” to describe someone who is affected with this behavioral condition. Generally, that is almost everyone’s concept and perception of what Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is all about.

But, one of the three types of ADHD will actually shatter the common impression of the condition. Little is known about the often ignored and forgotten ADHD Inattentive Type and is frequently overshadowed by the more common ADHD Hyperactive-Impulsive Type.


Not Everyone is Hyperactive

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder Predominantly Inattentive Type or ADHD-PI was also previously called ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder. It is primarily characterized by inattentive concentration or a deficit of sustained attention. This means that ADHD individuals of this subtype can easily be described with procrastination, hesitation and forgetfulness. It has fewer or no typical symptoms of hyperactiveness and impulsiveness. Interestingly, ADHD-PI is more common among young girls than with boys.


ADD has even been described as The Quiet Disorder and individuals of this subtype have been negatively labeled as daydreamers, slow, clumsy, lazy or forgetful among many others. Unlike the happy-go-lucky and expressive hyperactive-impulsive type, ADHD Inattentive type are generally introverted, quiet, finicky, easily distracted and even uncoordinated.

adhd inattentive type

Because of these symptoms, ADD is often confused with other conditions like hearing and vision problems, learning disability, anxiety or depression. That is why a doctor should carry out careful assessment and tests to rule out these conditions that mimic some symptoms before an inattentive type is finally diagnosed.


The Inattentive Symptoms

The Inattentive Type is basically the total opposite of what many people think of a child or adult with ADHD. They are not gregarious, bursting with energy or disruptive.


To help you out, here are the symptoms of ADHD-PI in both children and adults, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. At least six or more symptoms should be apparent for at least six months and has resulted to disruptive or inappropriate for developmental level before a predominantly inattentive type is diagnosed.



  • Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork and other activities
  • Often has trouble focusing on a task at hand, whether in play or school activities
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken directly to
  • Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish tasks not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions
  • Often has trouble organizing activities
  • Often avoids, dislikes to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period
  • Often loses things needed for tasks and activities
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities
  • Greater risk of academic failure and withdrawal from school



  • Often procrastinates or delaying or avoiding starting projects
  • Has difficulty sustaining concentration on conversations
  • Slow responses, doubt or delayed executive because of inattention in remembering information
  • Has difficulty in finishing tasks simultaneously
  • Forgetting to complete tasks when switching to other more stimulating activities
  • Shows signs of forgetfulness
  • Slower information processing that causes information gaps
  • Have trouble remembering appointments, schedules and meetings
  • Finishes tasks longer than usual
  • Maintaining excessive personal items
  • Displays obsessive behavior
  • Often has problems with organizing and time planning


Specific Treatments for the ADD Inattentive Type

It is has to be emphasized that there is no known treatment to cure ADHD in general. However, a rightful combination of both medication and behavioral therapy will enable an individual affected with the condition the ability properly manage the symptoms.


For the inattentive type, stimulants are typically prescribed, as these can help focus thoughts and ignore distractions. It is commonly used to treat moderate to severe ADD in children, adolescents and adults. Particularly, norepinephrine and acetylcholine help in sustaining concentration, enhance memory recall and support perseverance.

Dopamine and histamine, on the other hand, are used for cognition and mental awareness to address work memory, clarity and motivation. While serotonin and glutamate work by dealing with perception and sensory satisfaction for learning memory and relaxation.


Insofar as behavioral therapy, individuals with ADD can benefit from interventions that work on organizational skills, time management and understanding social cues. Psychotherapy, for both the affected individual and family members, may also yield desirable effect especially in addressing emotional difficulties because of inattentive issues.


So the next time that you are asked about what you think ADHD is, think all encompassing and also share the spotlight with the less popular ADD Inattentive Type. By understanding and sharing what you already know about this subtype, it will help others recognize the difficulties and challenges individuals with ADD face and shed light on others how to deal with those affected by it.


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