ADHD, formally known as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a chronic brain-based disorder that begins in childhood that effects the frontal lobe. ADHD is composed of two sets of symptoms: inattentive symptoms and hyperactive symptoms. As the population becomes more aware and clinicians have become more adept at diagnosis, ADHD has become the most common behavioral health problem of childhood. In fact, it occurs in roughly 3-5% of children in America, and is occurs up to three times more often in boys than in girls.
What are the different types of ADHD?
The DSM-5 identifies three different "presentations" or types of ADHD that are differentiated by the type of symptoms that are present. The first presentation is ADHD - predominantly inattentive presentation, or what used to the called ADD. Individuals with this type of ADHD do not show the hyperactive symptoms, but instead have difficulties with attention and concentration. Some common symptoms include:
Trouble paying attention and staying on-task
Trouble following rules and instructions
Being easily distracted and confused, daydream often
Trouble finishing homework or classwork
Trouble following complicated or multiple-step directions
Forgetfulness and or being disorganized
The second presentation is ADHD - predominantly hyperactive presentation. Individuals with this diagnosis do not have the inattentive symptoms, but instead have difficulties being overactive, hyperactive, or impulsive. Children with this diagnosis may:
Fidget excessively and have difficulty sitting still
Be constantly in motion, act like they are "driven by a motor"
Have trouble staying in their seats when they need to (i.e., at dinner, school, church, etc.)
Talk too much and interrupt others often
Be very impatient and frequently switch between activities
Act without thinking, have difficulty learning from consequences
Become easily frustrated and bored, and become disruptive when upset
Have trouble taking turns or waiting for things they want
Need a lot of attention, and have trouble playing quietly
Finally, many children are also diagnosed with ADHD - combined presentation. This means that they have symptoms of both inattentive or difficulty concentrating, and overactivity, hyperactivity or impulsivity.
Does ADHD only effect children?
Thats a great question! ADHD can be present in children, adolescents, and adults. Problems associated with ADHD usually first appear before age 12, but can last throughout the lifespan. You may hear that people can "grow out of it," although the evidence of this is a bit fuzzy. A few things could happen. First, many individuals learned skills to compensate for their difficulties during adulthood, such as better organization skills or what reminders are most effective. Additionally, evidence suggests that the symptoms of those with predominantly hyperactive/impulsive or combined presentations may change over time, and later be diagnosed with inattentive subtype.
How does someone "get" ADHD?
ADHD is most commonly a result of inefficient performance in the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe has two primary functions related to ADHD: organization and impulse control. In children with ADHD, this part of their brain is slower to develop. This does not mean that children with ADHD have "brain damage," only that the part of their does not work as efficiently as others. This also means you can't "catch: ADHD like you can catch a cold or the flu. The most common way a child develops ADHD is through genetic influences – which means they inherit the disorder. This does not mean that a parent of a child with ADHD must have ADHD also. Like most psychological disorder, ADHD develops from a combination of genes which may be dominant or recessive in parents.
What does ADHD impact?
There a number of difficulties that children with ADHD face associated with their symptoms. Children with ADHD often have difficulties in the following areas: