Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Defined
ADHD is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, children need to exhibit six or more symptoms in two or more settings to warrant an ADHD diagnosis and adults should have at least five of the symptoms. People who are diagnosed with ADHD can fall under one of three categories:
- Predominantly Inattentive Type can include difficulty with getting organized, finishing tasks, paying attention to details, following instructions or listening during conversations.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type can include excessive fidgeting, talking a lot, difficulty sitting still (e.g., for a meal or while doing schoolwork), feelings of restlessness and trouble with impulsivity (interrupting others, speaking at inappropriate times, difficulty waiting in line, etc.).
- Combined Type can include symptoms from both the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive types.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current research shows that genetics play a key role in the development of ADHD. Additionally, research is currently being conducted to study other possible causes, such as:
- Brain injury
- Exposure to environmental contaminants during pregnancy or at a young age
- Substance use (alcohol, tobacco, etc.) during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
ADHD in Adults vs. Children
ADHD can appear differently in adults than in children. For example, the “hyperactive” part of ADHD is more likely in children, whereas adults are more commonly diagnosed with the “inattentive” type.
Adult ADHD disrupts the brain’s executive functioning, which includes judgment, decision making, memory and ability to complete complex tasks. Likely the disorder was present when the adult was a child, but might have been overlooked or misdiagnosed as a conduct disorder or learning disability.
Untreated or undiagnosed ADHD in adults can negatively affect relationships, work, time management, money management, etc. Adults with ADHD may also be more likely to experience substance misuse.
If you think you might be experiencing ADHD, read over this checklist. If you answered “Often” or “Very Often” for several of these questions, consider making an appointment for a professional evaluation.
Children with ADHD can experience problems with planning, memory, schoolwork, motor skills, social skills, emotional regulation and responses to discipline. Sleep problems can also be more frequent in children with ADHD.
If you think your child might have ADHD, answer these questions. If you respond with “Often” or “Very Often” for several items, consider making an appointment for a professional evaluation.
Effective ADHD Treatment
An integrated approach to treating ADHD is necessary for success. Components of treatment can vary depending on the age of the individual with ADHD, but might include:
- parent training
- behavioral therapy
- executive skills training
- educational supports
- ADHD coaching
With a tailored treatment plan that addresses each individual’s unique needs, symptoms of ADHD can be significantly reduced and quality of life can be greatly improved.
If you suspect you or your child might have ADHD, contact the treatment professionals at Travco Behavioral Health for an evaluation.