In the age of technology where we’re constantly bombarded by information and notifications, our attention span and focus are jeopardized, causing us to wonder if we might be exhibiting symptoms of ADHD - Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However, the lack of focus we’re experiencing most of the time is nowhere near the threshold for ADHD. To accurately identify ADHD and offer proper help to people affected by this disorder, let’s learn about its various aspects.
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders, typically affecting children and lasts into adulthood. People with ADHD may have trouble controlling their attention or impulsive behaviors, and are overly active.
Types & Symptoms
There are 3 types of ADHD - inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, and combined (exhibiting both of the former types). Patients can move from one subtype to the other with time; for example, a child exhibiting the hyperactive type can switch to inattentive to in adolescence and then combined in middle adulthood.
Inattentive type symptoms:
Difficulty focusing on tasks, especially those requiring sustained mental effort such as doing schoolwork, listening to lectures, or reading
Doesn’t follow through and complete tasks, including duties (homework, assigned work)
Make careless mistakes, doesn’t follow instructions
Has problem with organization, planning, time management
Often forgets and loses things
Unresponsive in conversations
Hyperactive/impulsive type symptoms;
Fidgets and squirms, can’t stay seated
Runs around at inappropriate times and locations
Talks too much
Difficulty waiting for one’s turn, in line or in conversation. Often interrupts others and answers before people finish asking.
It’s common for young children to have difficulties focusing and be hyperactive at times, so only when these symptoms get severe and interfere with their performance at school and in daily life that the child should be examined for a diagnosis. The same goes for adults.
What it’s like to live with ADHD
Difficulty with focusing and doing the deep work needed for most academic and professional tasks can put them at a disadvantage in these fronts. They would need to put in more effort and make adjustments (such as asking for extended deadlines) to manage their work.
Difficulty with socializing: this would be more common for people with the hyperactive subtype, who might have trouble picking up on social cues and controlling their behaviors in social settings
Inconveniences in daily life: the lack of focus makes it harder to remember the various things we all need to take note of in daily life such as chores, where we place things, etc. People with ADHD have to create systems and reminders to make sure they don’t lose or forget important things.
Genetics play an important role, as shown by studies on twins and the difference in ADHD rates between different ethnic groups.
Prenatal & birth condition: premature delivery, low birth weight, alcohol and tobacco consumption or exposure to lead during pregnancy all increase the risk
Research does not support the claim that environmental factors can cause ADHD. They can contribute to the severity of the condition, but are not likely to be the main causes.
Behavioral therapy: for children, this would involve training parents and teachers to reinforce desirable behaviors and eliminate undesirable ones. Coordinated support from adults would help the child develop good behavior patterns to alleviate the symptoms. For adults, therapy can help them devise strategies to better manage and organize life.
Medication: Stimulants and non-stimulants have been shown to be effective at relieving ADHD symptoms. Doctors will monitor and adjust the dosage as needed to ensure the efficacy if the effects of the drugs wear out over time. Medication is even more effective when used with therapy
Parenting: parents should set structures, routines, and help their children form habits. Having clear instructions about what is expected of them and a clear schedule will help keep them on track. Parents need to model calm behaviors and communicate often with teachers to make sure the children receive appropriate support both at home and school.
How we can help
ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence and the people affected by it are as smart as those who aren’t. Dispel any myths, prejudices, and discrimination against people with ADHD, especially in schools and workplaces.
Share info about ADHD to raise awareness, especially for parents and educators who have a tremendous impact on children’s development.
Push for ADHD-friendly curriculums, workplace systems, and task management tools
If there’s a person in your life who has or might be developing ADHD, share your knowledge and support them in getting treatments and developing routines