A is for Attention.
People with ADHD need more stimulation or “input” to activate and sustain attention.
D is for Deficit.
While people with ADHD often have a deficit of attention in settings that are boring or uninteresting, when they are engaged and interested they can have an abundance of attention – or hyperfocus.
H is for Hyperactivity.
Some people say, “I don’t have the H.” While they may not be physically hyperactive, most people with ADHD will say they have a good deal of mental hyperactivity.
There are actually three types of ADHD – primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive and combined type. While ADHD runs in families, this does not mean they will have the same type of ADHD. My sister and I both have ADHD, but I don’t have the H! LOL.
D is for Disorder.
This is a point of contention…In my view, D should stand for “difference.” When you come to understand the strengths and challenges associated with the ADHD brain type, you will realize that it really is just a difference. We all have differences. ADHD just happens to be a difference that has a diagnostic label. In a traditional school or work setting, having ADHD may make it challenging to sustain attention or sit still. But in a more dynamic, interesting and engaging setting, the person with ADHD stands out in terms of enthusiasm, creativity, charisma, and ability. ADHD is a difference that can be maddening at times, but that can also make you a superstar.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder defined by impairing levels of:
- Inattention and Disorganization
Inattention and disorganization cause an inability to stay on task, seeming not to listen, and losing materials.
- and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity
Hyperactivity-impulsivity causes overactivity, fidgeting, inability to stay seated, intruding into other people’s activities, and inability to wait.
ADHD can result in impairments of social, academic and occupational functioning.
What is a Neurodevelopmental Disorder?
The neurodevelopmental disorders are a group of conditions with onset in the developmental period. The disorders typically manifest early in development, often before the child enters grade school, and are characterized by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning. The range of developmental deficits varies from very specific limitations of learning or control of executive functions to global impairments of social skills or intelligence. *Taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition (DSM-5)
Sometimes words don’t suffice to describe what people with ADHD experience. I’ve created a brief video to give you a taste of the experience of having ADHD.
- Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have ever been diagnosed with ADHD
- The average age of ADHD diagnosis is 7 years old.
- Symptoms of ADHD typically first appear between the ages of 3 and 6.
- One in five American children who has been diagnosed with ADHD is not receiving medicine or mental health counseling for their disorder.
Boys and Girls
- There has been a 42% increase in ADHD diagnoses over 8 years from 2003-2011.
- Males are almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.
- Females with ADHD are more likely to have problems primarily with inattention.
- During their lifetimes, 12.9 percent of men will be diagnosed with the attention disorder. Just 4.9 percent of women will be diagnosed.
- In adults, the disorder affects 4.4 percent of the U.S. population.
- Research suggests that only 15% of adults with ADHD have been formally diagnosed and treated.
- Adults with ADHD are twice as likely to separate or divorce.
- ADHD affects all races, including:
- whites: 9.8%
- blacks: 9.5%
- Latinos: 5.5%
- About half of children and adults with ADHD referred to clinics have other disorders as well as ADHD. These include:
- Learning Disorders
- Behavior Disorder
- Mood Disorders, including Anxiety, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder
- Sleep Disorder
- Substance Use Disorder
- For anyone 6 years of age and older, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends both behavior therapy and medication as good options, preferably both together. For young children (under 6 years of age) with ADHD, behavior therapy is recommended as the first line of treatment, before medication is tried.
- People with ADHD are highly intelligent (42% with IQ’s of 120 and above)
You Should Know
I have ADHD. I’m also a psychologist who has worked with thousands of clients with ADHD. And I can tell you there is no one cause, no one treatment, no one way that ADHD presents itself, and no one sure-fire method for managing the challenges that come with ADHD.
While many people with ADHD benefit from medication, even this is not 100% effective. Trust me, as a psychologist and someone who has ADHD, there are times when medications just doesn’t help. The best way of managing the challenges of ADHD is to have knowledge, support and understanding. Of course knowledge and understanding starts with the person who is diagnosed with ADHD. Whether that person is a child or an adult, it is important that they know their brand of ADHD and what it means in their lives. Coaching, some forms of therapy, support groups, and good old fashioned research can provide some basic knowledge about ADHD. The adventure of mindfully living with ADHD will give you the real understanding. This type of self-awareness is a skill that can contribute to good mental health at any age.
Understanding means acceptance. Accepting that having ADHD does not mean you are dumb. It means you are different. Some things are easier for you and others may be harder. Understanding and knowing one’s own brain means you can help others understand and support you.
If you are a parent, partner, friend, teacher …anyone- affected by ADHD- one of the biggest gifts you can give the person with ADHD besides love is curiosity. Be curious about their experience. Ask questions about what makes things hard or easy for them. Understand that ADHD is a brain difference, not a personality disorder or willful misconduct. Rather than being judgmental when they are being emotional or struggling on a task, ask how- or if- you can help them.
Realize that what works for everyone else may not always work for someone with ADHD – you might have to get creative to find the right solution to a challenge. Be curious about and capitalize on the person’s strengths. Focusing on weaknesses is no fun for anyone.
Here are the top articles other community members have asked for
Looking for the “Official” diagnostic of ADHD? Read Diagnostic Criteria of ADHD
Other Reliable Resources
Here’s another video depiction of what it’s like to have ADHD
Want to know about other famous people with ADHD
Statistics and information about ADHD found largely at these websites: