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Psychologist in Sussex, England » Hyperactivity (Terminology)
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Hyperactivity (Terminology)


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Please can you clear up my confusion regarding the terminology used to describe hyperactive children. At various times I have been told that my child is ADD, AD/HD and Hyperkinetic. Do these terms all refer to the same condition?

I agree this is very confusing. Only 2 terms are currently valid: AD/HD and Hyperkinetic Disorder.

AD/HD refers to Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, and is the term used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, Version IV (DSM IV). This manual, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, contains the diagnostic criteria for all psychiatric conditions. AD/HD has three versions: AD/HD Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive (children who are overly active but with adequate levels of attention); AD/HD Predominantly Inattentive (children who have serious problems with attention while not being unusually active); and AD/HD Combined (children who have problems with attention and are also Hyperactive/Impulsive).

Hyperkinetic Disorder is the term used in the International Classification of Diseases 10th Edition (ICD 10) which is published by the World Health Organisation. In order to meet the criteria for Hyperkinetic Disorder, children need to have problems with both hyperactive/impulsive behaviour and with attention. This is the equivalent to AD/HD Combined. For this reason, there are less children diagnosed as being Hyperkinetic than AD/HD.

In summary, you should ask what diagnostic criteria your clinician is using (DMS IV or ICD 10). If DSM IV is being used, you should ask if your child is AD/HD Predominantly Inattentive, AD/HD Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive or AD/HD Combined. If ICD 10, there is only one form of diagnosis: Hyperkinetic Disorder.


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