Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition which impacts millions of children and teenagers and typically continues into adulthood. Individuals living with ADHD experience a range of challenges, including difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.
Due to their condition, it is not uncommon for young people with ADHD to struggle with low self-esteem and confidence, troubled relationships and even frustrations coupled with low performance in school.
To support this, individuals with ADHD need to learn tangible strategies for a successful and productive life.
Treatment will not cure ADHD, but the right interventions can support symptoms. Intervention should be led by a medical professional but typically includes a combination of the correct medications and behavioural therapy.
One of the most useful ways to support is with early diagnosis as it can make a big impact on a young person’s life.
What are the signs of ADHD?
A tell-tale feature of ADHD includes great inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior.
The symptoms of ADHD can begin before 12 years of age, with some noticeable as early as 3 years of age. Every individual will have different experiences and ADHD symptoms can present as mild, moderate, or severe.
Research confirms that ADHD is more common in males than in females, and behaviors can vary between sexes.
There are three subtypes of ADHD:
- Predominantly inattentive. The majority of symptoms fall under inattention.
- Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive. The majority of symptoms are hyperactive and impulsive.
- Combined. This is a mix of inattentive symptoms and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.
The main symptoms of ADHD are:
- Inattention: examples include failures to pay close attention to detail, difficulty staying focused on one thing and challenges with organizing tasks.
- Hyperactivity and impulsivity: examples include great fidgeting, being in constant motion, speaking quickly and often, and trouble playing or doing activities quietly.
- Heightened emotions and sensitivity Procrastination
- Difficulty compromising with others
How to get diagnosed with ADHD
Normally, ADHD is diagnosed in childhood. Due to some overlapping and similar symptoms, it’s important to distinguish ADHD from other disorders such as:
- sleep disorders
- hearing and vision problems
- learning disabilities
- mood or personality disorders
The process of an ADHD diagnosis includes a physical exam and hearing and vision tests since there is no one set test for it. Normally, it asks for input from parents and teachers.
Typical criteria for those 16 and younger include:
- six or more symptoms of inattention
- six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity
For individuals 17 and older:
- five or more symptoms of inattention
- five or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity
In all cases, symptoms must:
- have been present at least 6 months
- are not developmentally appropriate for the age
- occur in two or more settings
- interfere with the functioning
- are not due to another mental disorder
- some symptoms were present before age 12
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