What is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition that affects people’s behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse. (www.nhs.uk)
Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed before years old and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school.
Most cases are diagnosed when children are 6 to 12 years old and although symptoms usually improve with age, many adults, who were diagnosed was children, continue to experience problems into adulthood.
We work with many families who become aware of traits and behaviours when their child starts school but we are increasingly seeing more adults for ADHD assessments as they become more aware of the traits and feel an assessment may help answer long left questions.
People with ADHD may have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders and the condition can makes it difficult for people to inhibit their natural spontaneous responses. In the old days children who day dreamed, interrupted conversations or seemed to have endless energy were labelled as trouble makers whereas now we are increasingly understanding that they may in fact have ADHD. Inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
You have difficulty staying focused and attending to a task you find boring so you appear sluggish, lethargic, and slow to respond
- Procrastinate because it takes a great deal of mental energy to complete a task.
- Easily distracted by irrelevant sights / sounds and seem to get bored easily.
- Appear forgetful and even spacey or confused.
- Don’t seem to listen
- Find organising and completing tasks extremely difficult
- Difficulty keeping up with schoolwork or bills
- Frequently lose things
- Following through on promises and commitments may be a struggle
- Time management is also often an issue.
These behaviours are harder to identify and less disruptive than hyperactive and impulsive symptoms.
You may have excessively high levels of activity which may present as physical and/or verbal overactivity. You may appear to be in constant motion and perpetually on the go, moving about excessively, squirming, or fidgeting and feel restless.
Interrupting others, monopolizing conversations and engaging in a running commentary in a loud and disruptive way.
Children and adults have trouble inhibiting their behaviours and you may find that you often act and speak before thinking, reacting without considering the consequences. You may interrupt others, blurt out responses, and rush through tasks without carefully reading or listening to instructions.
Waiting for your turn and being patient is extremely difficult and you prefer speed over accuracy. You may go full speed ahead even into potentially risky situations without much thought which can create stress.
What are the myths around ADHD?
1. ADHD is a real medical condition – it’s just a title for naughty children?
ADHD is recognized as a disorder/disability. Part of the misunderstanding stems from the fact that no specific test can definitively identify ADHD.
Clear and specific criteria must be met for a diagnosis but symptoms are not always clear-cut. We all experience problems with attention and focus to some degree. Symptoms can also appear similar to other conditions and this is why the health professionals must first rule out any other pre-existing conditions or causes.
2. Is ADHD caused by poor parenting?
This thought can create negative feelings. so positive parenting with the clear and consistent expectations / consequences can help manage the symptoms. Conversely, a home setting that is chaotic or parenting that is punitive and critical can worsen symptoms.
So what are the causes ?
By far the biggest cause of ADHD is genes. Research and studies on families, twins, and adopted children have been helpful in our understanding about the genetic factors of ADHD, however, if a parent has ADHD, it does not automatically mean his or her child will inherit ADHD.
Eating too much sugar, allergic reactions, watching television, playing video games or a lack of discipline does not cause ADHD.
3. Do only children have ADHD?
Although ADHD symptoms must be present by age 7 (to meet the criteria for diagnosis), many individuals remain undiagnosed until adulthood.
We see many adults who come for an assessment after their own child has been assessed and diagnosed. As you learns more about ADHD, you may recognise the traits in yourself and recall struggles in school or problems with attention.
Hyperactive behaviours can decrease with age, but symptoms of restlessness, distractibility, and inattention continue.
Left untreated adult ADHD can create chronic difficulties with work and in relationships and can result in secondary issues such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
4. Will you grow out of ADHD?
Previously known as ADD, symptoms of ADHD are typically seen early often when the child starts school. As we have already said plenty of children do outgrow it but often ADHD continues into adolescence and adulthood – particularly the inattentive type.
Many adults don’t realise they have ADHD because they weren’t diagnosed early and by adulthood they have learned ways to cope with their symptoms.
Can ADHD change over time?
Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well but diagnosing children depends on a set of strict criteria where the child must have 6 or more symptoms of inattentiveness, or 6 or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
How to manage ADHD at home?
Creating clear and consistent expectations and consequences, predictable routines and identifying and strategizing area of difficulty can help e.g. organisations skills.
Empowering the support team with knowledge
Learn, research and listen.
When a child grows up feeling less than, stupid, lazy or not as able as other people, life can feel hopeless. It is our job as adults to help children understand that they are not these negative labels and that the future holds wonderful possibilities for them. Traits of ADHD can be real strength for many people.
Structure your child’s home life
Introduce routines – mealtimes, a bedtime, and quiet times by drawing a step-by-step chart for any task and goals. You can also look at how to manage their activities so that they are not overstimulated or exhausted.
Teach your child to look before they leap
Children with ADHD can to be impulsive and unaware of how their behaviour may affect others so help develop the habit of considering the consequences. Suppose they want to play catch just outside the living room window. What might happen? Is there a better place to play?
Help with homework
What is the best time for homework and do they have a quiet place to work but resist the temptation to do the work for them.
How to manage ADHD in your classroom?
Classroom rules should be clear and concise and reviewed regularly with the student.
Seat the student close to the teacher and away from easy distraction
Frequent and immediate feedback or consequences about behaviours.
Offer immediate praise for good behaviour.
Use rewards and incentives before punishment
Offer frequent physical breaks to move around
Allow standing work or sensory cushions
Show written class rules.
Limit distractions, excessive noise, distracting visual stimuli, clutter
Reduce the student’s total workload.
Give concise one- or two-step directions.
Place a hand on the student’s shoulder, hand or arm while talking to him in order to help him stay focused
Offer “koosh ball” or something tactile to manipulate.
Schedule the most difficult subjects in the morning time
Do not use loss of recess as a consequence for negative behaviour.
Use timers, taped time signals, or verbal cues to show how much time the student has remaining for an activity.
Pair your student with a “study buddy”
Arranging an ADHD assessment
Please contact us if you would like to find out more about our Neurodevelopmental Assessments
- Our Multi-disciplinary Team undertake assessments in line with the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (N.I.C.E) guidelines.
This involves a full clinical and psychosocial assessment; which includes discussion about behaviour and symptoms in the different domains and settings of the person’s everyday life, a full developmental and psychiatric history, observer reports and assessment of the person’s mental state (N.I.C.E, 2018 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng87).
- For school age children the assessment includes a school observation and questionnaires completed by school. We also uses QbCheck, the only CE marked and FDA approved for use as an aid in the assessment and treatment evaluation of ADHD for individuals aged 6 to 60 years old. QbCheck enables the provision of objective, unbiased information giving a better assessment.
- If a diagnosis is made, then our team will discuss appropriate recommendations with you to support your child, young person or yourself. If this involves a consideration for medication we can arrange for you to see one of our Psychiatrists to discuss your options further.
Other good sources of information
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Living with – NHS (www.nhs.uk) have some good ideas and advice around living with ADHD.
Living with ADHD – ADHD Aware and Living with ADHD | AADD-UK
There is a lot of great information on Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – NHS (www.nhs.uk) which outlines the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatments.