Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common, yet complex neurocognitive disorder.
According to recent large studies, the worldwide prevalence of ADHD in children under 18 years old is 7.2%. Here in the USA, some recent research indicates that up to 10-15.5% of school kids and 4.4% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD.
There are three main categories of ADHD:
- Some people mainly experience inattention or difficulty focusing as their primary symptom. Along with difficulty staying organized, following instructions and losing things, forgetfulness and getting easily distraction are also commonly observed. This is called ADHD, Inattentive Type.
- Some people can focus well, but are very restless and impulsive. This is called ADHD, Hyperactive/Impulsive Type.
- Other people experience hyperactivity or impulsivity in combination with inattention. Difficulty sitting still, taking turns and playing quietly can be challenging for these folks. They also might have trouble with interrupting others, talking too much or blurting things out at the wrong place or time. Very often people have a combination of symptoms that range in severity from mild, moderate to severe. This is most often called ADHD, Combined Type.
- It can be difficult to diagnose ADHD in girls, and it is also likely that many girls do not fit easily into one of the above three types.
ADHD is caused by many factors.
Researchers continue to study and learn more about ADHD and its causes. However, there are some causes of ADHD that have been determined. ADHD is commonly inherited from one or both parents. Other factors that have been linked to ADHD include brain injury, premature birth, and toxin exposure in early childhood. Additionally, while not considered causes, some factors such as poor nutrition, too much screen time, trauma, and family strife have been shown to make symptoms worse. Children who have experienced drug exposure and disrupted attachment in infancy also commonly have many ADHD symptoms.
Most people with ADHD are bright and have the potential to be very successful.
In fact, some of our world’s most successful people have been reported to have possible ADHD, including Thomas Edison, Einstein, and others. But it is important to recognize that if left undiagnosed and untreated, problems with academic failure and maintaining relationships can occur. Untreated symptoms can also increase the chances of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and legal problems.
ADHD is Recognized in People of All Ages
Many times, ADHD symptoms are noticed when children start school. In order to meet criteria for ADHD, the symptoms must create difficulties in at least two life areas, be present before age 12, and not be the result of other medical conditions that can mimic ADHD.
Some children may have a hard time staying in their seat, listening to instructions, staying organized, feeling distracted and unfocused, staying organized, or thinking before they act. Sometimes, they are very restless or have a hard time sitting still. Many have difficulties at home or with friends as well.
Other children have difficulties learning. In fact, approximately 50% of children with ADHD also meet criteria for a Learning Disability, such as Dyslexia or Dysgraphia.
But it is also common that people notice difficulties later in adolescence as academic and social demands increase. Additionally, symptoms may become more evident into adulthood, when life presents more responsibilities and more freedom. Struggling to meet demands of family and/or career can bring adults to seek testing for ADHD.
Treatment options are available.
Treatment options range from behavioral therapy, educational support, lifestyle strategies and medications. If the focus concerns or overactivity interfere with a child’s school functioning, schools are legally required to make accommodations for students with ADHD. Adults may be able to request assistance at their place of employment. Usually a combination of approaches is more successful than any one alone.
There are several different medications proven helpful with ADHD. Since each person responds in a unique way to each medication, it is important to work closely with a physician who specializes in the treatment of ADHD and is familiar with the unique challenges that each person is experiencing.
Refer to Hope Springs Behavioral Consultants website for links to resources, articles on helpful lifestyle and self care strategies. You may also contact us to schedule testing, therapy and medication management for ADHD for your child or yourself.
One organization, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder, is very helpful. It offers trainings, conferences, articles, and other sources of information.