ADHD – THE BASICS: ADD and ADHD are psychiatric disorders characterized by inattentiveness or hyperactivity and compulsiveness, which hinder a child's academic or social performance. Because there is no objective clinical test to confirm ADD or ADHD, the diagnosis is based on a set of subjective symptoms. If children exhibit any six of nine characteristics in either category, they are labeled ADD or ADHD. In an effort to help children who are struggling at school because of their short attention spans, many parents, teachers, and doctors make the assumption that these children have ADD and start them on medications. Unfortunately, they are often treating the symptoms and not the real cause. High distractibility and difficulty remaining on task is not the sole domain of ADD.