What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a cognitive disorder characterized by chronic patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interfere with a person’s daily functioning. ADHD is believed to occur in the frontal lobes due to underproduction of neurotransmitters that help the brain engage in executive functioning (e.g., focusing, planning, managing time, managing daily levels of frustration). ADHD occurs in approximately 5% to 11% of people. It begins in childhood and often persists into adulthood. While the disorder is more commonly diagnosed in males, newer research points to more females having the Inattentive subtype. When children have the more disruptive – and noticeable – hyperactive-impulsive type, they are more likely to be referred for an evaluation. People with ADHD frequently have other diagnoses, too, such as learning disabilities, depression, and/or anxiety.
Subtypes of ADHD
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation
- Combined Presentation
- difficulty getting started; procrastination
- difficulty remaining focused, particularly on
- tasks that are boring or repetitive
- frequently interrupts or blurts or interrupts
- poor attention to details; frequently makes
- “careless” mistakes
- often fidgets; frequently restless
- often talks excessively
- difficulty organizing tasks or work spaces
Diagnosis and Treatment
ADHD is a clinical diagnosis, usually made by pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, or neurologist. Evaluators follow DSM 5 guidelines by documenting childhood evidence of multiple ADHD symptoms in two or more settings. These symptoms need to create impairment and should not be better explained by other issues such as hyperthyroidism or depression. A thorough evaluation often includes psychoeducational testing (e.g., IQ or achievement testing) to screen for learning disabilities and to determine how the disorder affects a person’s learning. Assessment may also include computerized testing of sustained attention. Treatment usually involves a combination of medication, behavioral training, therapy, school accommodations, and/or ADD coaching.
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Watch Dr. Julie Steck’s webinar, ADHD: More Than an Attention Problem, by clicking here.