Getting to Know the ADD Types – Type 1: Classic ADD

classic add type 1

This post has been updated since its original publication date.

If you think attention-deficit disorder (ADD), or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as it is more commonly called, is just one thing, you’re wrong! The brain-imaging work at Amen Clinics—over 250,000 SPECT scans—shows that it is not a single or simple disorder. In fact, there are 7 types of ADD/ADHD.

Each type has a unique set of symptoms that requires a personalized treatment plan. Knowing your type or your child’s type can help you find the most effective treatment to manage symptoms.

The brain-imaging work using SPECT scans at Amen Clinics shows that there are 7 types of ADD/ADHD and each has a unique set of symptoms that requires a customized treatment plan. Click To Tweet

In this 7-part blog series, you’ll discover the basics about each of the ADD/ADHD types, their unique symptoms, SPECT scan findings, and science-backed interventions.


Classic ADD is often referred to as ADHD. The “H” is for hyperactivity and is one of the more notable symptoms of this type. Classic ADD/ADHD is the most common diagnosis of the 7 types and is the easiest to recognize. That’s because hyperactivity is one of the more notable symptoms of this type.

The hyperactive-impulsive ADHD type is seen more frequently in boys. As babies, they tend to be colicky, active and wiggly. As children, they tend to be noisy, impulsive and demanding. Their hyperactivity, constant need for excitement, and conflict-seeking behavior typically make them the center of attention.

Parents of these kids are often tired, overwhelmed and even embarrassed by the behavior of their non-stop, hard-to-control children.

In adolescence and adulthood, people who suffer from Classic ADD typically have difficulties handling stress and maintaining relationships. As a group, these individuals also have low self-esteem, which can have negative consequences at work, at home, and in relationships.

The standard treatment for Classic ADD in both children and adults is stimulant medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall. Sometimes negative reactions to these medications can be extreme, such as hallucinations, violent outbursts, psychosis, and suicidal behavior.


Most of the 7 types of ADHD and ADD share a common feature of brain function. In people who don’t have ADD, concentration increases blood flow in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This brain region is involved in focus, planning, organization, judgment, empathy, and impulse control.

When activity increases in this region, it helps us focus and stay on task.

In people with ADD, however, the opposite occurs. Blood flow decreases during concentration. This makes it difficult to focus. In fact, the harder they try, the harder it gets!

This shows that this condition is not due to a lack of willpower or laziness. ADD/ADHD is a neurobiological disorder with serious psychological and social consequences.

In fact, research shows that having ADD/ADHD increases the risk of having other mental health disorders, such as clinical depression and substance use disorders. 


Though each of the ADD subtypes has its own set of symptoms, they all share the same core symptoms:

  • A short attention span for regular, routine, everyday tasks (homework, chores, etc.)
  • Distractibility
  • Organization problems (like having a messy room, always running late, etc.)
  • Procrastination
  • Forgetfulness
  • Problems with follow-through
  • Poor impulse control (saying or doing something before thinking it through)


In addition to the core characteristics, Classic ADD entails a number of additional signs and symptoms, including:

  • Inattentiveness
  • Has trouble listening when others are speaking; frequently interrupts
  • Makes careless mistakes/poor attention to detail
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Has difficulty waiting their turn
  • Acts as though they’re driven by a motor
  • Talks excessively

Take note that these symptoms can range from mild to severe. In addition, not everyone with Classic ADD will have all of these symptoms. You or your child may only have some of them.


Medication isn’t the only way to treat ADD/ADHD. In fact, there are many natural ways to help ADD symptoms. Here are 6 lifestyle interventions that can help manage symptoms.

  1. Keep moving.

Due to hyperactivity and impulsivity, those with Classic ADD frequently fall short when attempting to complete concentration tasks. To help improve concentration, frequent movement is essential. The more that exercise is incorporated into mundane activities, the easier it will be to concentrate.

  1. Make it fun.

For children who have trouble concentrating during educational activities, a busy activity right beforehand, such as cardio, can help improve concentration. Additionally, children with Type 1 are more focused when educational or clean-up tasks are presented as a race, obstacle course, or other fun game.

  1. Be a stand-up employee.

For those with adult ADHD, if you have a desk job, stand up and move around at least once an hour. Creating an organized and creative work environment will also help you focus and maximize productivity.

  1. Get good sleep.

For optimal functioning and focus, get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. To restore proper balance to your sleep cycle, avoid common sleep stealers like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, daytime naps, and using technology right before bed.

  1. Create a support structure.

Maintaining relationships with friends and family who support you and understand your personality can be beneficial in helping you cope with Type 1 flare-ups.

  1. Get a customized solution.

Like many other mental health conditions, ADHD has multiple types. Therefore, treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one person with ADHD may not work for another—or could even make the symptoms worse!

To get a personalized treatment plan, you need to know two things:

To know your type, brain imaging with SPECT can be very helpful. Without brain imaging, psychiatrists can only guess which type you have.

Want more information? Download Amen Clinics’ free Getting to Know the 7 ADD Types eBook.

ADD/ADHD and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Even I have to read these type of ‘What is ADD or general info on ADD’ articles to remind myself of the characteristics. I thought I had a ‘slight or moderate’ case of ADD. Imagine my shock when the medical professional informed me that I was severe!

    That my ‘typical’ ADD behavior is not typical for others or that my mother raised a rude and inconsiderate person, far from it! How many times do you have to read or see something to finally learn it? I guess I am still in the process!

    Comment by Liz Naples — June 4, 2018 @ 6:31 AM

  2. I hear you on this, Liz. It is mind boggling to me that I actually have this! However, in raising two boys, (now young men) one with and one without, I see myself in him (the” with” one) daily. I also see his tremendous difficulties as he will not embrace the diagnosis. So, keep telling your story . It is important to others who may have this “interesting ” and challenging condition!

    Comment by Terri Brohard — June 4, 2018 @ 8:01 AM

  3. I was curious about ADD/ADHD one day and took it upon myself to learn more about it. I found this quiz online and decided to take it. Apparently it says that I may have this type of ADD! I’ve also looked at this link ( I see so, so much of myself in all the behaviors this website lists! You would not believe how forgetful I am!
    I am still a teenager and I wish I could get this sort of thing checked out by my doctor. I highly suspect that I may have ADD, but obviously, a self diagnosis is not reliable. I’ve let my mother know about this, but she just assumes all of it is ” just a little bit of anxiety”.

    Comment by Roy Horn — July 30, 2018 @ 12:52 AM

  4. I’m pretty young, but my dad has ADD and I think I have it too. I took the test and it said I had Overfocused, Temporal Lobe, Limbic, and Anxious ADD. However, I’ve looked and I also have some symtoms (not all) of every type of ADD, including the ones I was actually diagnosed with! The only one I had all the symptoms of was one I wasn’t even diagnosed with, Inattentive ADD.

    Comment by Olivia — May 10, 2019 @ 7:54 AM

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    Comment by thursdays — December 5, 2023 @ 5:53 PM

  6. Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes that produce the most important changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

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