'I don’t think inside the box. I don’t think outside the box either. I don’t even know where the box is.'
ADHD Edmonton Psychologist
Attention Deficit Disorder, commonly known as ADD or ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with your day-to-day functioning. I often see with my clients that have ADHD, that their symptoms can have a negative impact on their work performance, and social relationships.
ADHD is often categorized into 3 types; Inattentive, Hyperactive/Impulsive and a Combined Inattentive/Hyperactive/Impulsive Type.
ADHD can affect both children and adults. Here are some of the symptoms associated with ADHD:
- Poor Attention to Details
- Difficulty Sustaining Attention
- Difficulty Following Through on Instruction or Completing Work
- Poor Organizational Skills Including Time Management
- Difficulty Initiating Tasks
- Misplacing or Losing Items
- Being Easily Distracted
- Forgetting Appointments and Tasks
- Being Fidgety or Restless
- Talking Excessively
- Difficulty Waiting Their Turn
- High Energy Levels
Treatment regarding ADHD involves us first identifying the impact your symptoms are having on your life by doing an ADHD assessment. The key for counselling is to work on teaching you skills and strategies around improving structure, and routine into your daily life so that your symptoms become increasingly more manageable.
The inattentive type of ADHD has symptoms manifest as forgetfulness, poor focus, organization, and listening skills. It can also cause issues with giving close attention to details or following through on instructions and finishing tasks.
The symptoms of the Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD sub-type encompasses many traits such as hyperactivity (as the name suggests) interrupting conversation or class, constant fidgeting, excessive talking, difficulty waiting during turn-based situations, and feelings of restlessness.
The combined inattentive/hyperactive/impulsive sub-type occurs if a person has six or more symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD.
ADHD can be challenging to diagnose because of the large variety of symptoms that can vary in many different settings. To diagnosis ADHD, a significant number of persistent symptomatic behaviours, and the degree to which they impede a person’s life, must be observed.
While there is no single test to indicate ADHD, there are a plethora of assessments, evaluations, and interviews that can be conducted to obtain a comprehensive diagnosis. In order to diagnose, an ADHD test should determine whether a person has ADHD by ruling out or identifying other problems such as learning disabilities, or mood disorders. The tools for diagnosing ADHD can include ADHD rating scale questionnaires, intelligence tests, broad-spectrum scales, specific ability tests such as language, vocabulary, memory, and motor skills, and continuous performance tests (or, CPT).
Although the specific causes of ADHD are not entirely known, studies have revealed that the disorder is related to brain development, which is affected by genetics and the environment. ADHD tends to run in families and nearly half of parents who had ADHD as a child also have a child with the disorder. In general, people with a first-degree relative that has ADHD are more likely to have it themselves. However, it is not always the case that the disorder will manifest simply because it is prevalent in your family.
It is important to keep in mind that an ADHD diagnosis is not anyone’s fault and a caregiver or family member shouldn’t feel guilty or responsible if a child is diagnosed with ADHD.
Although there is no cure for ADHD, there are treatments available. However, patients still have ADHD and while treatment can mitigate some symptoms, they may return if treatment is discontinued or interrupted.
Although ADHD is treatable, people with the disorder rarely outgrow the symptoms. Instead, they usually develop adaptive strategies to compensate for the disorder. Current ADHD treatments include stimulant or non-stimulant medication, therapy, and/or a type of behaviour therapy. The main focus of ADHD treatment is on symptom management and behaviour modification or cognitive behavioural therapy.
While ADHD was once considered a childhood disorder, through research it has been revealed that a majority of children who are diagnosed with ADHD experience a continuation of symptoms into adulthood. However, it is important to note that the symptoms of ADHD can change over the course of someone’s life. During childhood, the symptoms of ADHD may be observed during playtime. As a person ages, ADHD may manifest as inattention during class. During the teenage years and beyond, the symptoms may be more nuanced and subtle, with their restlessness becoming less visible as outward behaviour but continue to cause issues inside, such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
Lack of focus, disorganization, restlessness, difficulty finishing projects and/or losing things are all symptoms adults with ADHD might experience. Symptoms may also cause difficulties at work, at home or with personal relationships. Studies have shown adults with ADHD are at increased risk for lower job performance and social problems. This can result in a greater chance of changing or losing jobs more frequently.