I’ve had ADHD since I was little. I’m now in my late 50s.
I can’t recall exactly when I first realised that there was something different going on with me – but I was an adult before the light dawned.
Well known, but not known about
Most people who work with troubled kids will have heard about ADHD.
In my experience, though, many don’t know much beyond the very basics, In fact, lots of people I speak to have a view of ADHD limited to kids with an unusual degree physical hyperactivity. The fidgety kids who can’t sit still – ‘Oh, he’s the one with ADHD.’
We need a broader sense of what ADHD is and of how it affects children’s functioning, if we’re to really help them push through and do better.
DISCLAIMER: what follows is an aggregation of my reading – I am not a doctor.
If you need help yourself or for someone else, please consult a doctor.
In a nutshell:
So, here’s my very brief, non-medical, summary of what it is:
ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that commonly affects children but can persist into adulthood. It is characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can significantly impact an individual’s daily functioning and quality of life.
Here are some key summary points about ADHD:
- Definition: ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder which causes children to experience abnormal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
- Prevalence: It is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopment disorders. It is thought to affect around 5-10% of children. Symptoms normally appear in early childhood, but they very often persist into the teenage years and beyond, into adulthood.
- Inattention: Sustaining attention is perhaps the most prevalent symptom of ADHD. This shows itself in distractibility (i.e. difficulty paying attention), forgetfulness (e.g. losing things, not keeping appointments), struggling to follow instructions and difficulties with task-completion.
- Hyperactivity: Perhaps the most well-known symptom, hyperactivity manifests as excessive physical agitation, such as fidgeting, restlessness, and having trouble sitting still. People with ADHD may struggle to engage in quiet activities and seem to be ‘on the go’ all the time I’ve heard it described as feeling like having a dynamo inside.
- Impulsivity: Impulsivity refers to acting without thought for potential consequences – act first, think…whenever! Individuals with ADHD may also cut across conversations and interrupt people, and/or struggle with self-control (e.g. saying ill-thought-through and/or inappropriate things, buying things they can’t really afford, acting rashly or taking risks, etc.).
- Subtypes: ADHD can be classified into 3 subtypes:
- predominantly inattentive presentation,
- predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, or
- combined presentation (inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity).
- Subtypes: ADHD can be classified into 3 subtypes:
Diagnosis – Symptoms – Causes:
- Diagnosis: Diagnosis is typically made through a comprehensive assessment by a psychiatrist, sometimes in partnership with a psychologist, who follow a diagnostic manual – either DSM-V (North American) or ICD-11 (World Health Organisation).
- Symptoms: These must be present for at least 6 months, start before the age of 12, be outside of what’s normal for age & intellectual functioning, be present in multiple different settings and have a notable negative impact on everyday life (e.g. school, work, social relationships).
- Causes: This is the focus of great debate and much ongoing research! But the truth of it is likely to be some combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors, possibly differing from person to person. Differences in brain structure, different function and neurotransmitter imbalances, may also contribute to the condition.
‘Scientists have not yet identified the specific causes of ADHD. While there is growing evidence that genetics contribute to ADHD and several genes have been linked to the disorder, no specific gene or gene combination has been identified as the cause of the disorder. However, it is important to note that relatives of individuals with ADHD are often also affected. There is evidence of anatomical differences in the brains of children with ADHD in comparison to other children without the condition.’ (American Psychiatric Association)
Comorbidities – Treatment
- Comorbidities: ADHD often coexists with other conditions like learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, and oppositional defiant disorder. These comorbidities can further complicate diagnosis and treatment.
- Treatment: Treatment for ADHD typically involves a combination of approaches, including (but not limited to) coaching, behavioural interventions/strategies and medication. The regimen for each person is unique and requires regular review, particularly where medications are a feature.
As we can see from this, ADHD is a lot more than being a ‘fidgety kid.’ It’s a complex condition that has real & troublesome impacts on everyday life. It needs looking at carefully by quaified people so children (and adults – like me!) can get the help they need.
What do you think?…
Please let me know your thoughts… Leave a comment below.
- This is my FAVOURITE book on ADHD (I’ve read most of them!) – ADHD 2.0 by Ed Hallowell & John Ratey
- ADDitude magazine/website – an absolute min of information, advice, blogs, resources, etc. Learn more here.
- AdvanceADHD – brilliant ADHD coaching service for people with ADHD or those who care for them. Learn more here.
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© Jonny Matthew 2023