What is ADHD?
ADHD or Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be) or be overly active. Signs of ADHD in children can include a wide range of academic, social and behavioral problems.
There is a common misconception that goes along with ADHD. A child who has excessive energy during playtime doesn’t mean that he or she has ADHD. A co-worker who is very clumsy and always makes impulsive decisions doesn’t mean that he or she has ADHD. There are times that we ask if it is normal that we take our tasks for granted and times we easily get bored from the things that we used to enjoy. That doesn’t mean that we have ADHD. It is never okay to self-diagnose and if we are in doubt. It may be best if we consult an expert.
Signs and Symptoms
It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue and they can be severe and cause difficulties at school, at home or with friends.
A child with ADHD might:
- daydream a lot
- forget or lose things a lot
- squirm or fidget
- talk too much
- make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
- have a hard time resisting temptation
- have trouble taking turns
- have difficulty getting along with others
There are a lot of misconceptions about ADHD. Individuals don’t choose to have these symptoms, but they do have the responsibility to learn to manage them. The most common misconception is the belief that ADHD is not real. It is very real. It can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. ADHD is an equal opportunity disorder and is not the result of poor parenting—another common myth. You can be an exceptional parent or a terrible parent and still have a child with ADHD.
Having ADHD can make you feel like you don’t really love the things you are passionate about. ADHD has the potential to make you feel like a shell of your former self if left undiagnosed for too long. Some people with ADHD have talked about how they used to love reading and now it’s so hard to even pick up a book. That is why it is very important to spread awareness about this disability. This way it could be more widely discussed so people can understand more about what it really is.
October is ADHD Awareness Month!
Undiagnosed, untreated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can wreak havoc on your life, and it can also impact your loved ones. Each year, we recognize ADHD Awareness Month in October is
a time to celebrate the progress made in ADHD education and advocacy, understand the work that still needs to be done and raise awareness about the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. Without ADHD awareness many children and adults continue to struggle.
The many faces of ADHD
ADHD is a lifelong disorder for most people. You may be a child, an adult, a famous actor or actress or a writer and still have ADHD. Like many disorders, the symptoms may be expressed differently in different people. For one person it may be a huge problem with impulsivity and hyperactivity. For another it may be about the ability to pay attention. For some, the symptoms are very mild and easily controlled. For others, the symptoms are quite severe and disruptive. There are many faces of ADHD, but the most important message is that many people with ADHD manage their treatment effectively and live full and rewarding lives.
These celebrities are proof that a medical disorder doesn’t have to be a reason for not living a full, happy life. These well-known figures who have found ways to thrive with ADHD.
This Maroon 5 front man has come a long way to his success. He wrote for Additude magazine that as a kid, he struggled with what seemed normal to other kids — sitting still, completing work, focusing. His parents helped him find treatment, but his problems with attention persisted into adulthood. “I had trouble sometimes writing songs and I had trouble writing and recording in the studio. I couldn’t always focus and complete everything. I remember being in the studio once and having 30 ideas in my head, but I couldn’t document any of them,” he wrote. He went back to the doctor and learned that ADHD hadn’t gone away as he’d grown up. In fact, he still deals with it daily. “ADHD isn’t a bad thing, and you shouldn’t feel different from those without ADHD,” he wrote. “Remember that you are not alone. There are others going through the same thing.”
The multifaceted singer and actor revealed in an interview with Collider.com that he has both OCD and ADHD. “I have OCD mixed with ADHD,” he says. “You try living with that [combination].”Since that interview, Timberlake hasn’t spoken about either of his conditions or how the two affect his day-to-day life. But the multiple Grammy and Emmy award winner has clearly found a way to manage his symptoms and live a fulfilling, highly successful life.
The hotel heiress and socialite Paris Hilton revealed that she was diagnosed with ADHD as a child in an interview with Larry King. “I’ve been on medication since I was a child,” she says. “I have ADHD, so I take medication for that.”
The key to managing the signs and symptoms of ADHD is finding a treatment plan that works and sticking with it.
ADHD isn’t something you overcome – that implies that it goes away and you don’t have to deal with it ever again. It’s a developmental disorder that 2/3 of us never grow out of. There’s a lot of behavioral therapy, workarounds for your particular challenges, habit trackers and rewards, and environmental design that can all work to help those with ADHD, but it takes time and patience (and a therapist, ideally) to work out what your answers will be. And they’ll probably change over time.
Medication is the most common way of treating ADHD. However, it is not the only way. There is a saying: “Pills don’t teach skills.” This means that learning ADHD-friendly ways to do daily tasks is also helpful. Medication is not a bad thing, but it isn’t the whole answer for anyone. ADHD is just a diagnosis. Life goes on as long as we set our goals. Slow progress is still progress. Self-awareness is the key to a better understanding of the situation. And, always be kind to yourself.