ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a condition characterized by symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Not everyone with ADHD is affected by all three symptom types, and in fact, ADHD diagnoses specify the difference between Inattentive Type, Hyperactive Type, and Combined Type. Inattentiveness can manifest as difficulty staying focused, disorganization, missing deadlines, making careless mistakes due to rushing through tasks, becoming easily distracted and frequently losing things. Signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity include acting without thinking about consequences, difficulty sitting still or staying quiet, disruptive behaviours, and squirming and fidgeting. ADHD affects approximately one in ten children and can persist into adulthood. Though ADHD is a common disorder, there are many misconceptions about who it affects, what it looks like, and how it’s treated. Here are the facts:
What You Need to Know About ADHD
• All kids can at times have difficulty with paying attention, waiting, sitting still and making considered decisions, but those with ADHD struggle much more with these issues because of differences in their brain development.
• The average age of diagnosis for ADHD is between 5-8 years old, depending on the severity of symptoms. As children progress through school, these symptoms often increasingly interfere with their academic performance and their ability to adopt expected behaviour.
• ADHD is often thought of as a childhood issue, but it is estimated that 4% of adults have the condition, though it is often underdiagnosed due to fewer screening opportunities and better coping strategies that adults adopt as they mature.
• Though research suggests that ADHD affects all genders, boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. It is still unclear whether this reflects a genetic variation, social factors, or other causes.
• ADHD can be diagnosed through a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment with a qualified psychologist. This involves testing with the individual, as well as gathering information from parents, teachers and other caregivers. A medical examination with a physician may first be recommended to rule out other causes.
• There are a number of treatment options for ADHD, and consulting with your health care team is the best way to determine which one is right for you or your child. Strategies and accommodations can also be implemented at school and home to support the development of executive function skills that those with ADHD often struggle with (i.e. goal setting, planning, organizing, prioritizing, self-monitoring, initiating and adapting).
With the appropriate treatment and supports in place, ADHD is not only a manageable condition but can also be associated with positive attributes such as greater energy and creativity. This is something that doesn’t have to cause family difficulties. Early diagnosis and intervention can make a critical difference in the lives of those with ADHD.
By: Zoë Laksman, Psy.D, C.Psych and Laura Clarridge, Ph.D. Zoë Laksman has practiced as a Registered Clinical Psychologist at The Clinic on Dupont since 2007. Laura Clarridge is a certified executive coach who helps her clients find fulfilling educational and career pathways. Their backgrounds and training have shaped their interest in promoting improved psychological health, interpersonal functioning and wellness. They work together as a clinical team and as the developers of The Clinic on Dupont’s online presence.