What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, show controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.
An estimated 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD. ADHD is often first identified in school-aged children when it leads to disruption in the classroom or problems with schoolwork. It is more common among boys than girls.
Symptoms of ADHD
Many ADHD symptoms are more common in children in general. The difference in children with ADHD is that their hyperactivity and inattention are noticeably greater than expected for their age and causing distress and/or problems functioning at home, at school or with friends. All kids struggle at times with paying attention, listening and following instructions, but children with ADHD will struggle with them more often and more intensely.
ADHD is diagnosed as one of two types: the inattentive type or the hyperactive/impulsive type. A diagnosis is based on the symptoms that have occurred over the past six months.
Inattentive type – has six (or five for people over 17 years old) or more of the following symptoms
Does not pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school or job tasks.
Has problems staying focused on tasks or activities, such as during lectures, conversations or long reading.
Does not seem to listen when spoken to (i.e., seems to be elsewhere).
Does not follow through on instructions and does not complete schoolwork, chores or job duties (may start tasks but quickly loses focus).
Has problems organizing tasks and work (for instance, does not manage time well; has messy, disorganized work; misses deadlines).
Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as preparing reports and completing forms.
Often loses things needed for tasks or daily life, such as school papers, books, keys, wallet, cell phone and eyeglasses.
Is easily distracted.
Forgets daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands. Older teens and adults may forget to return phone calls, pay bills and keep appointments.
Hyperactive/impulsive type – has six (or five for people over 17 years old) or more of the following symptoms
Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in their seats.
Not able to stay seated (in classroom, workplace).
Runs about or climbs where it is inappropriate.
Unable to play or do leisure activities quietly.
Always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor.
Talks too much.
Blurts out an answer before a question has been finished (for instance may finish people’s sentences, can’t wait to speak in conversations).
Has difficulty waiting for his or her turn, such as while waiting in line.
Interrupts or intrudes others (for instance, cuts into conversations, games or activities, or starts using other people’s things without permission). Older teens and adults may physically take over what others are doing.
ADHD in adults
Many adults with ADHD do not realize they have the disorder. A comprehensive evaluation typically includes a review of past and current symptoms, a medical exam and history, and the use of adult rating scales or checklists. A really common symptom with ADHD in adults are being easily distracted from day-to-day tasks and often losing things easily.
Adults with ADHD can be treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. Behavior management strategies, such as finding ways to minimize distractions, increase structure and organization, and involving immediate family members can also be helpful.
Why is ADHD awareness month important
It affects a wide variety of people : No demographic is immune from ADHD. It's found in people of all ages and backgrounds. Nearly 10% of children will be diagnosed with ADHD and more than 4% of adults will exhibit symptoms.
It's genetic : No one is to blame for ADHD. It's a brain-based disorder that is often genetic. Family history can play a role in children who are diagnosed. Prenatal risk is a factor — along with environmental toxins.
ADHD contributes to other problems : They include the loss of productivity at work or school, relationship problems, obesity, and legal troubles. It's likely one of the costliest medical conditions in the U.S.
How to observe National ADHD awareness month
Get tested : You may have ADHD and not know it. If you're prone to procrastination, have trouble focusing on a task, or otherwise lack motivation, you may have a form of ADHD. The World Health Organization offers a test with 18 questions that can help make a diagnosis.
Share your story : The American Deficit Disorder Association invites those diagnosed with ADHD to share their stories so the public can see the human face of the disorder. The best way to reduce stigma is for those challenged by it to share their stories.
Provide support : ADHD associations throughout the country sponsor support groups for kids and adults who suffer from attention deficit disorders. Find out if there's a local group in your area and learn what you can do to support efforts to bring the latest treatments to those who need them.
How to support someone with ADHD
Study up : The more you learn about ADHD, the easier it will be to see how it is affecting your friend/colleague/loved one. You may find that a light bulb comes on - their behaviour makes a bit more sense now and finally you have an inkling of what it feels like to be them.
Adjust your behaviour accordingly : Now that you have an improved understanding of why they are the way they are, think about how the way you constantly try to ‘correct’ them might make them feel overwhelmed. Talk to them more tolerantly about the things lost or not done.
Separate the person from the symptoms : Instead of thinking “Ah, you are so irresponsible!”, start thinking like “Oh there goes the ADHD making you lose focus again!”
Avoid the parent-child dynamic : Their symptoms may put you in the position of always picking up after them or acting like a parent or guardian stepping in to finish tasks for them or acting to protect them from themselves. Try to become aware of your tendency to do this and resist the temptation. Your taking over can be very demotivating for them. Try to be more encouraging.
Find the funny : There will inevitably be miscommunications and misunderstandings but try to laugh about them; this not only relieves the tension, it also helps foster a feeling of understanding and closeness between you.
Grade the challenges : Work out with them what tasks or situations, such as handling finances or having phone conversations with strangers, are the most difficult for them. Then think about whether other people can take some of that away from them or if there is a way of making those particular areas easier for them to tackle.
Develop a routine : Just because they cannot focus and are frequently disorganised does not mean that someone with ADHD cannot follow a plan. Help them to plan and schedule the things they need to get done.
ADHD is just like any other mental disorder. The earlier you seek help, the better chance you will be able to recover. It is nothing to be embarrassed about when seeking help and in fact, it takes lots of courage to ask for help. We are really proud of you and we would love to use today to spread awareness of ADHD. If you notice any symptoms your loved ones have, remind them that it is okay to ask for help.