Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder prevalent in approximately 5% of people. In the past, the diagnosis of ADHD has been a controversial subject and many children and adults have lived their entire lives without knowing they had this medical condition. Nowadays, people with ADHD have a plethora of treatment options and resources to participate healthily in society.
How is ADHD diagnosed?
The diagnosis of ADHD is a complicated matter. Even though a general practitioner may be able to identify the symptoms of ADHD in an individual, only qualified mental health care professionals can accurately give an ADHD diagnosis.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) classifies attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as a persistent pattern of inattentive or hyperactive/impulsive behaviors that interfere with the function and development of an individual. The symptoms of ADHD may first manifest themselves when a person is expected to perform self-management tasks (source).
If you believe you or someone close to you has ADHD, you should consult with a general practitioner. Even if they can’t give a proper diagnosis, they can refer you to a specialist who can do so. Moreover, they can give you advice on how to handle your current situation.
How is ADHD treated?
While there is no “cure” for ADHD, people with the condition can learn how to live normal lives. The best treatment for children with ADHD is based on a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, stimulant medication, and the love and support of parents and those close to the patient.
What are the symptoms of ADHD in children?
ADHD symptoms in children range from an incapacity to stay focused to an uncontrollable urge to move around. Every child with ADHD can portray a different combination of symptoms. Generally, the symptoms of ADHD are categorized as either inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive.
Symptoms of inattentiveness in children
- Very easy to distract by outside stimuli or their own thoughts
- Constantly lose personal objects
- Often make mistakes without noticing
- Being unable to focus on mentally demanding or time-consuming tasks
- The child appears not to pay attention when spoken to
- A lack of capacity to follow instructions
- Leaving tasks unfinished
- Having difficulty with organization
Symptoms of hyperactivity in children
- Seem incapable of sitting still, especially when they are required to stay calm
- Persistent fidgety or squirmy behavior
- Incapacity to concentrate on a single task
- Sudden rushes of energy that lead the child to move excessively
- Talking too much or when it isn’t appropriate
- Interrupting others when they are speaking
- Blurting out the answer to a question before it has been fully formulated
- Being unable to patiently wait their turn
- A reduced sense of danger that leads to imprudent behavior
Types of ADHD
Depending on the type of symptoms presented by the child, ADHD can fall into one of these three designations:
- Predominantly inattentive presentation: Children with this presentation of ADHD have trouble paying attention and have a difficult time finishing tasks, following instructions, and being organized. This ADHD presentation is more common in girls than in boys.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-impulsive presentation: This type of ADHD is characterized by feelings of restlessness. Children with symptoms of hyperactivity are very talkative and energetic, even when it is not socially acceptable. Boys develop these symptoms more often than girls.
- Combined presentation: ADHD is not rigid, and symptoms show themselves with different intensity between individuals. Children with ADHD combined presentation present 6 or more common symptoms of each of the other two types of ADHD.
Conditions related to ADHD
There are certain health conditions often seen in children with ADHD that are not symptoms of ADHD per se. These include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Conduct disorders
- Sleep problems
- Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Dyslexia and similar learning disabilities
What are the symptoms of ADHD in adults?
ADHD in adults is much less understood than in children due to a lack of medical research on mature people with ADHD. It is believed that the symptoms of hyperactivity and inattentiveness that characterize ADHD in children are also present in adulthood, manifesting themselves in different ways.
The adverse health effects ADHD has on adults can be drastically reduced with proper treatment and support, especially when the condition is diagnosed during childhood. The following examples of symptoms of ADHD in adulthood reflect the experiences of individuals who have undergone no treatment for their condition.
Bad organizational skills
The responsibilities of adulthood can be particularly overwhelming to people with ADHD. From paying bills to taking care of children, these tasks require planning skills that adults with ADHD may have not developed growing up.
Poor driving skills
Since ADHD causes people to lose their focus easily, driving becomes a much harder task to accomplish. This issue can be particularly alarming in adults with untreated ADHD, as they are more prone to accidentally committing driving infractions such as speeding, causing traffic accidents, and mishandling their vehicle.
While a troubled relationship is not a sure giveaway of ADHD, certain relationships or marital problems can stem from one’s partner or spouse having ADHD. Behaviors that can be attributed to ADHD, like not remembering special dates and commitments, can be interpreted as a lack of care. More often than not, the person with ADHD doesn’t realize the effect this has on their partner.
ADHD is primarily a problem with attention, and therefore adults who show symptoms of it are unnaturally receptive to stimuli. People who find focusing to be a challenging task may see themselves disadvantaged at their job, especially in noisy and busy workplaces. Likewise, otherwise mundane tasks like answering phone calls or emails can be very emotionally taxing to an individual with ADHD.
Bad listening skills
Adults with ADHD may lose their focus and zone out, even during important moments such as business meetings. Likewise, they might forget to fulfill a task even though they have been reminded of it several times. Unfortunately, this leads to several misunderstandings at work.
Being constantly tense
An adult with ADHD will find it hard to relax. The symptoms of hyperactivity that manifest themselves as restlessness in children may transform into a persistent edginess as an adult. Due to this, adults with ADHD experience a considerable amount of tension, even when there isn’t any real reason for them to worry.
Just as children with ADHD have trouble starting their homework, adults with ADHD find tasks that require a lot of attention to be overbearing. This tendency to procrastinate can lead to a considerable amount of stress when coupled with the workplace and relationship issues people with ADHD are more prone to experience.
People with ADHD have trouble committing to a schedule and arriving on time to appointments. This may be caused because unrelated distractions cause them to lose track of time or because they underestimated the time it would take them to accomplish an assignment.
Trouble managing emotions
ADHD in adults is typically seen alongside other emotional issues or mood disorders. The capacity for emotional control may be lower in individuals with ADHD, and they will be unable to control their emotions under stress. It is possible that an adult with ADHD will be quick to overreact over minor problems, only for their anger to be quelled almost instantaneously.
How to help your child with ADHD gain more autonomy
Children with ADHD should receive the proper therapeutic care. It is very important for the parents of kids with ADHD to become acquainted with the various treatment options and resources available to them and their children.
Learning how to live with ADHD doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Nowadays, parents have access to technological tools they can use to teach their children the right life management skills while having fun. With Kairos, your child’s everyday chores can be turned into a game!
Kairos is a fun augmented-reality video game that helps teach kids how to be autonomous and maintain a healthy daily routine. While children have fun saving the world from an evil alien invasion, the tasks they complete correlate with real-world assignments and activities that can be customized by parents. This way, children have a fun incentive to brush their teeth, do their homework, and go to bed on time.
The app can be customized to fit the needs of parents and children alike. Kids can personalize their in-game avatar with a wide variety of cosmetic options and special superpower-themed rewards can be personalized by parents to appeal to their child’s preferences.
In turn, parents have full control over their child’s schedule and the tasks they have to complete. The Kairos app also includes a virtual parenting assistant, ready to provide guidance and parenting tips so parents can learn how to communicate and encourage their children.