I am puzzled about attention-deficit disorder. I am 74 and cannot remember it being a problem when I went to school. Is ADD a recent development, and if so, why? One of our grandchildren, now 15, took a vacation class to help him study, but he doesn't have ADD symptoms. Can you explain? - Granny


There were children with ADD - now described as attention-deficit hyperactive disorder - in school with you. They were the ones who squirmed in their seats, blurted out answers, had difficulty following directions, daydreamed a lot and were very disorganized. These children were simply considered behavior problems.

The only truly new thing about ADD is the name, which was coined about 15 years ago. Knowledge about ADD, however, is still developing. Today, most experts agree that it is a neurobiological disorder that can have multiple causes. It is estimated that approximately 3 percent to 5 percent of all school children have significant symptoms of this disorder. You might think that more children have ADD because there has been a tendency to overdiagnose or misdiagnose it in recent years.

During your school years, ADD might not have been as noticeable because many things were done without understanding that they helped children with attention problems. Classrooms were often more structured, and teacher-directed lessons made it easier for students to stay on task. Plus, there was frequently more time for active play at recess and lunch that helped to burn off the excess energy of ADD children.

Approximately 30 percent of all students diagnosed with ADD have learning disabilities. Some will have poor study skills; however, there is no reason to assume that someone with poor study skills has ADD.