Different Subtypes of ADHD Call for Individualized Treatment

According to new research focused primarily on the differences and similarities between the two most common subtypes of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) subtypes-ADHD-PI and ADHD-C-children with the neurological disorder could greatly benefit from individualized assessment and treatment, which means there may soon be a call to change ADHD guidelines.

According to new research focused primarily on the differences and similarities between the two most common subtypes of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) subtypes—ADHD-PI and ADHD-C—children with the neurological disorder could greatly benefit from individualized assessment and treatment, which means there may soon be a call to change ADHD guidelines.

The research was performed by Lisa Gomes, a postgraduate researcher at The Australian National University.

It is known that ADHD is a common disorder seen within childhood, and while it affects many aspects of a child’s life, often the most difficult obstacle for a child with ADHD is focus and concentration in school. “In the school context, children with both ADHD subtypes have been found to display marked problems with their learning,” reported Gomes, who examined attention and memory in boys suffering from both subtypes as well as a control group.

Gomes reported that “the two most common subtypes, ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive (ADHD-PI) and ADHD-Combined (ADHD-C), share clinically significant problems of inattention, but differ in their clinically significant levels of hyperactivity and impulsivity.”

“Important differences have emerged in the literature about demographic and family characteristics, and psychosocial functioning between ADHD subtypes,” she continued. “Some researchers have therefore theorised that these subtypes are distinct and unrelated disorders. Studies that have investigated the nature of the fundamental building blocks of learning—attention and memory—in ADHD have found mixed results pertaining to differences between the subtypes.”

The findings of Gomes’ research, however, go against the notion that ADHD-PI and ADHD-C are separate disorders; her study indicates that boys in both ADHD groups suffered from considerable obstruction in the areas of attention and memory, and they shared many similarities concerning the nature of their disorders.

“On attention tests, the two subtypes performed comparably with some additional selective attention impairments for the ADHD-C group and almost no differences on study measures of memory found between groups,” she stated.

She noted that, upon looking at the “individualized attention and memory profiles across participants,” there was an indication of “a high degree of heterogeneity within both ADHD subtypes.”

“The heterogeneous nature of attention and memory, which are the fundamental building blocks of learning within each ADHD subtype, has clear clinical implications,” she concluded. “It reinforces the need for there to be individualized assessment and treatment for children with ADHD in order to properly understand their learning difficulties.”