If you’re reading this, you most likely follow me on at least one social media platform. Which means you’ve probably seen me post from time to time about my personal challenges with ADHD.
Because ADHD is such a big part of my life these days, I often vent publicly about how hard it can be to navigate its symptoms daily, and how disruptive it can be to accomplish all of the things I set out to do while I manage it. But a lot of people don’t realize how much it truly impacts life for those who have the disorder, so I thought I’d take some time to share more about it, especially from the science side of things.
It’s estimated that more than 8% of children and over 2% of adults have ADHD. It is diagnosed more commonly in boys than girls, and most often discovered in young children. However, as the ADHD communities grow-- we see a great diversity of people across gender, age, and ethnicity, speaking out about their experiences with the disorder. The diagnosis divides those who have it into three ‘types’ of ADHD, which include Inattentive, Impulsive/Hyperactive and Combination.
Symptoms differ based on the type of ADHD the person has.
The Inattentive person often forgets daily tasks like household chores; they don’t like tasks that force them to focus for long periods of times (such as completing a written test); they don’t appear to fully pay attention when spoken to (and may be doing other things during conversations); they have problems with organizing tasks and time management; they lose things that are part of daily life (keys, wallet, etc.); have trouble paying attention to details; and are easily distracted.
The Hyperactive/Impulsive person has trouble staying seated for long periods of time; speaks excessively; interrupts others; has trouble waiting their turn in social situations; always seems to be on the go; frequently fidgets; has an inability to participate in social activities quietly and moves about at inappropriate times (worship service, school classrooms, theater performances, etc.).
The Combination person may suffer from symptoms that reflect both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive behaviors.
When there are issues related to the growth and development of the brain, what results is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which is how ADHD is classified. Research indicates there’s a genetic link as well, and external factors such as exposure to toxins and poor nutrition can intensify symptoms.
So when you see someone—a child or an adult—who mentions that they have ADHD and struggle to manage their symptoms, know that there is a scientific reason for their behavior and they aren’t just being antsy-- there's more to it than meets the eye! It’s a serious disorder that can impact school and work performance; intrapersonal relationships and overall wellness, including physical health.
Because there isn’t one test to detect ADHD, doctors will conduct neuropsychological tests and gather information from the patient (or the patient’s parents/caregivers/teachers, if they’re a child) to eliminate other ailments before making a final diagnosis.
Treatment for ADHD is usually a combination of behavioral therapy and medication. If the diagnosis is caught at a young age, the doctors may likely recommend creating more structure in their environment; encouraging exercise; breaking tasks down into short, manageable time periods and other techniques known to help. Medication will likely be introduced in both children and adults to keep symptoms under control.
Full disclosure: I take medicine for my ADHD and since I recently moved, had some drama transferring my prescription from out-of-state because it’s a controlled substance in California. Stay tuned for my YouTube video where I’ll share that odyssey ...
The Help Available
On the spur of the moment, I recently hosted a Twitter livestream for others who have ADHD. I was so glad I did! The participants supported one another, we had a thoughtful, honest exchange and I came away from it feeling like there’s a whole community there that wants to talk about this the way I do. So keep an eye on my feed for future chats!
There are also a variety of resources online for those who need help or just simply want to understand more about why their body behaves the way it does:
I Have ADHD features a podcast, a free course, a symptoms checklist and various other downloads to help those who have it (or believe they may have it).
CHADD is a nonprofit dedicated to helping those who suffer from ADHD. They offer virtual conferences, toolkits and an information library.
Attention Deficit Disorder Association offers virtual support groups and a directory of ADHD trained professionals.
Impact ADHD is a blog for parents and teachers of children with ADHD, updated regularly with top articles on the topics of parenting and educating ADHD-affected kids.
Above all, if you or someone you love has ADHD, exercise patience with yourself and them. Their behavior isn’t due to a lack of discipline or decorum, it’s scientific. You/they are likely doing their best!
Do you struggle with ADHD? Share your stories in the comments section.
ADHD Graphic by Chenspec/Pixabay