AD(H)D stands for Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder, and it is a neurodevelopmental condition which has a big impact on those who have it. It is diagnosed by a doctor and it can affect both adults and children.
Characteristics of ADHD
The below are the list of characteristics which are used to officially diagnose ADHD. It’s important to know that this is not an exhaustive list due to the way these characteristics interact with each other. Meaning that people may display one characteristic more than others, while also displaying not another. The hyperactivity/ impulsive characteristics may also not be present because someone may just have ADD, which is Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities
- Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities
- Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked)
- Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities
- Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework)
- Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones)
- Is often easily distracted
- Is often forgetful in daily activities
Hyperactive/ Impulsive Symptoms
- Squirms when seated or fidgets with feet/hands
- Marked restlessness that is difficult to control
- Appears to be driven by “a motor” or is often “on the go”
- Lacks ability to play and engage in leisure activities in a quiet manner
- Incapable of staying seated in class
- Overly talkative
- Difficulty waiting turn
- Interrupts or intrudes into conversations and activities of others
- Blurts out answers before questions completed
Treatment and Support for ADHD
Medication is the most commonly known and used treatment to treat ADHD/ ADD. This is especially true for children with ADHD, who have to function in a formalised learning environment. However, some adults may choose not to take medication or medicate their child due to personal reasons and this is completely fine. Sadly, the issue is there is not a lot of support for ADHD outside medication, except for Cognitive behaviour therapy, which some find too invasive. There are support groups, but not everyone can access them, which is why this website continues to campaign for more support in various forms.
There is not one universally accepted answer amongst professionals on what causes ADHD, though the general consensus is that it is hereditary. This means that it is passed from parents to their children. However, there are some professionals such as the renowned physician Gabor Mate who attributes ADHD to trauma and lack of attachment. Whilst there is no evidence to support his theory, there is no denying the link between the shared characteristics between ADHD and trauma.
If you think you recognise the characteristics of ADHD or ADD in yourself, your first port of call would be to discuss this with your GP/ doctor who can give you more information about the referral process in your area for adults. One thing to note is that unfortunately the waiting times for a diagnosis in some areas can take years and some people prefer to go private in the hopes of speeding this up.
If you think that your child may be having ADHD, it’s slightly more complicated in obtaining a referral due to the postcode lottery currently in place the UK (this means different areas have different processes). However, your first port of call would be your child’s school SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator), who will be able to tell you if it is them or the doctor that needs to make a referral. Unfortunately, some SENCOs may not help you pursue a diagnosis, at which point you would be best checking out your local child development centre to see what information they could give you.