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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Updated: Apr 16

The ADHD mind can look like a collection of random things

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a term used to describe differences in an individual's ability to complete daily tasks; things like paying attention, sitting still, completing tasks, and waiting for their turn. Everyone has a tough time paying attention or sitting still sometimes, but individuals with ADHD experience more difficulty than others their same age. ADHD is often first noticed and diagnosed in elementary school. Differences often impact an individual throughout their lifetime. Like other differences diagnosed in childhood, ADHD seems to be impacted by genetics. So, if one person in a family has ADHD, it is likely that others in the family will also have related differences.

Differences related to ADHD are grouped into three different categories: inattentive symptoms, hyperactive and/or impulsive symptoms, or both (often referred to as combined).

Symptoms of inattention include:

  • Makes careless mistakes

  • Struggles to sustain attention

  • Does not seem to listen

  • Struggles to complete tasks

  • Has a tough time organizing materials

  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is slow to engage in tasks that require sustained attention (e.g., may avoid homework or chores that are time consuming)

  • Loses or misplaces important things

  • Tends to be forgetful

Symptoms of hyperactivity and/or impulsivity include:

  • Often fidget

  • Frequently leaves seat

  • Often runs or climbs excessively

  • Unable to play quietly

  • Often “on the go”

  • Talks excessively

  • Blurts out answers

  • Struggles to wait turn

  • Interrupts others

If you think you or your child may have ADHD, an assessment can help not only with a diagnosis, but also with highlighting areas of strength! A typical assessment includes rating scales (completed by parents, teacher(s), and possibly the individual-depending on their age), a cognitive assessment, and, for school-aged individuals, an academic assessment to help identify potential areas of learning that may be impacted by ADHD symptoms. Following an assessment, recommendations, as well as areas of strength and weakness are shared.

While it can be helpful to know what to look for with ADHD-related differences in mind, it can be even more important to consider the positives that an individual with ADHD possesses.

Additude has compiled a list of some of these positive qualities:

  • Strong, out of the box, problem solving skills that neurotypical peers may not consider

  • Creativity due to a lack of inhibition (e.g., the ability to put the brakes on) which seems to result in more original ideas

  • High levels of empathy impacted by strong emotions

  • Great sense of humor

  • Determination, since individuals with ADHD sometimes work harder than peers to do similar work

  • Ability to notice

  • Hyperfocus which can be a great advantage for tasks that require an

  • Flexible with interruptions

How to ADHD has a website and YouTube channel dedicated to explaining (in understandable terms) ADHD and celebrating differences!

Once ADHD has been identified, a plan for treatment can be created with the individual in mind. Treatment options can include medication, therapy, and/or lifestyle changes. Medication options can be explored with a physician. Behavioral training is a form of therapy that helps to teach adults (oftentimes parents, but teachers could also be a strong positive resource for a student) strategies to help the individual succeed. This type of training is also available for individuals with ADHD. In addition, an ADHD coach can help an individual and/or their adults create new systems (e.g., organizational or time management) to help support areas of possible difficulty. Lifestyle changes can include daily exercise and ensuring the individual is gaining an adequate amount of sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information about treatment options available for ADHD.

Contact us with questions or to schedule an evaluation to help identify ADHD differences.

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