ADHD in Children and Adults
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults. ADHD can make it difficult to focus, complete tasks, pay attention or stay organized. Some individuals with ADHD also find it difficult to inhibit impulses (such as blurting out or interrupting) or sit still. Such difficulties may lead to impairment in day to day functioning including academic performance, social relationships, or day to day tasks.
Currently, there are three distinct types of ADHD:
- ADHD — Inattentive Type (formerly known as ADD)
- ADHD — Hyperactive / Impulsive Type
- ADHD — Combined Type
Symptoms of ADHD
Individuals with ADHD typically exhibit symptoms prior to twelve years of age and across multiple environments. Some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty following instructions
- Easily distracted, difficulty keeping attention with activities at school or home
- Frequently loses things, seems disorganized
- Trouble with tasks that require planning
- Doesn't pay close attention to details
- Forgets things
- Appears not to listen
- Fidgety, can't stay in their seat
- Inappropriate running or climbing
- Can't play quietly
- Has trouble waiting their turn
- Blurts out answers
- Frequently interrupts people
- Talks excessively
- Always "on-the-go"
Of note, individuals with ADHD can exhibit a tendency to hyperfocus, particularly on topics, tasks, or activities that are of interest to the individual (such as television shows, video games, or other preferred activities).
ADHD in Children and Adolescents
Diagnosing ADHD in a preschooler must be done with great care and take into consideration their developmental level. At times, preschoolers may exhibit difficulties with following directions, paying attention, or waiting their turn. However, when such difficulties begin to interfere with day to day functioning (such as being sent home or suspended from preschool or significant social difficulties), parents should consider seeking consultation with a professional to obtain further evaluation.
ADHD most often becomes identifiable in early childhood and can present differently in boys and girls. Generally, girls are more likely to experience more inattentive than hyperactive symptoms and as a result, may fly under the radar of parents and teachers as they may not be disruptive or have behavioral challenges. Boys are more likely than girls to present with hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. Children with ADHD are also likely to struggle with emotional regulation, beyond what is developmentally appropriate.
Although some ADHD symptoms are evident since early childhood, individuals may not experience significant problems until later in life. Symptoms can change over time, so adults may fit different presentations from when they were children.
How We Can Help with ADHD
Once identified, children (and families) with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder can benefit from structured therapy, learning strategies, parent training, and medical / educational / behavioral interventions. But the starting point is a formal ADHD evaluation by a qualified expert, to determine if ADHD is truly the underlying issue and if there are any other complicating issues. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder can be difficult to accurately diagnose, because many different factors contribute to an individual’s struggle with focus and attention. But we have the experience and expertise to help you sort all of this out. Learn more about ADHD Testing here.