Understanding ADHD Challenges

Understanding ADHD Challenges

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental health disorder that can cause above-normal levels of hyperactive and impulsive behaviours. People with ADHD may also have trouble focusing their attention on a single task or sitting still for long periods of time. Both adults and children can have ADHD. ADHD changes over time, but it is rarely outgrown. It was once thought that children simply outgrow ADHD as they develop, mature, and age. While some children may seem to outgrow the disorder (or no longer have symptoms that result in impairment), in most cases children with ADHD grow up to be adults with ADHD.

ADHD Symptoms

A wide range of behaviours are associated with ADHD. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Trouble focusing or concentrating on tasks
  • Forgetful about completing tasks
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Interrupting people while they are talking

Types of ADHD

Predominantly Inattentive

  • Fails to give close attention to detail or makes careless mistakes.
  • has difficulty sustaining attention while completing tasks or partaking in activities.
  • does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • does not follow through with instructions and fails to finish schoolwork or workplace duties.
  • has difficulty organising tasks and activities.
  • avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort.
  • Loses materials necessary for tasks or activities.
  • Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type

  • fidgets with or taps hands and feet, or squirms in seat.
  • leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.
  • runs and climbs in situations where it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to feeling restless).
  • Is often “on the go,” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
  • blurts out answers before a question has been completed.
  • has difficulty waiting their turn.
  • interrupts or intrudes on others.
  • talks excessively.

Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type

  • display both inattentive and hyperactive symptoms
  • inability to pay attention,
  • tendency toward impulsiveness
  • above-normal levels of activity and energy

Who can diagnose ADHD?

  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Educational Psychologist
  • Paediatrician
  • Family doctor (GP)
  • Neurologist

The mental health professional assessing the problem will also look at the following factors:

  • When and where the symptoms first appeared
  • How long the symptoms have been bothering you or your child
  • When the symptoms started
  • How severe the symptoms are

Co-existing conditions and ADHD

The following disorders are not part of an ADHD diagnosis but sometimes co-occur with ADHD, or get confused with it:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Substance Abuse

Making the ADHD diagnoses

ADHD looks different in every person, so there is a wide array of criteria to help health professionals reach a diagnosis. To receive an ADHD diagnosis, individuals must display a combination of strong ADHD hallmark symptoms, namely hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattention.

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