Characteristics of ADD

Nearly all people with ADD have difficulty with the following in a non-ADD world:

  Attention span/ Concentration     Impulsivity
  Sensitivity     Motor Activity
  Impatience     Organization (structure)

These core ADD characteristics seem to surface in adults in three distinct ways. Usually,   people with ADD fall predominantly into one of the three categories, but they can exhibit a "blend" of two or even all three forms.

Form I: Outwardly Expressed ADD - The Active Entertainer

Feelings are expressed openly and actively. Impulsivity and activity are expressed. One with this type of ADD can usually succeed in sales, entertainment, entrepreneurship, or another field utilizing quickness and high energy. Has difficulty with:

Activity, verbal & physical Spreading energy thin Impulsivity
Over-achievement Temper control Disruptiveness
High risk taking Repetitious task Frustration
Long term projects Blaming others too much Maintaining Relationships
Wide mood swings Wanting own way Reactivity

Form II: Inwardly Directed ADD -- The Restless Dreamer

Feelings and behavior are not actively displayed; they are "stuffed" inside. Impulsivity and impatience are subtly expressed. One with this type of ADD can find success in most fields utilizing creativity, mechanical, technical and service-oriented jobs. Has difficulty with:

Under-activity Excessive self-blame Task completion
Under-achievement Burnout/Depression Ending bad relationships
Over-commitment Indecision Restlessness
Too much empathy Procrastination Failure to follow dreams
Dreaming Distractibility  

Form III: Highly Structured ADD -- The Conscientious Controller

Must work within structure. Tends to feel out of control if structure is changed. Impulsivity and impatience are expressed as judgments. Often anxious and demanding. One with this type of ADD can usually succeed in the military, accounting, or another field utilizing computers and attention to detail and precision. Has difficulty with:

Excessive talking Obsessive worrying Perfectionism
Unstructured settings Temper control A need to control
Recovering from interruption Over focusing Rigidity
Over-organization Cooperation Being judgmental
Demanding own way Negotiation  

This information used with permission of Lynn Weiss.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2003, August 7). Characteristics of ADD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: February 13, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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