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ADHD in Adults
ADHD in adults is fairly common. Many people with ADHD have never been diagnosed and have problems at work, at college, or with relationships. Most people with ADHD get diagnosed as children due to hyperactivity that gets noticed by teachers. However, many people with ADHD go undiagnosed. This happens because you have what is called ADHD–Predominantly Inattentive Type. This means rather than being hyperactive and having trouble sitting still, you have trouble focusing, are easily distracted, and jump from task to task without completing the previous task.
If you have ADHD–Inattentive Type, you may not be doing the quality of work you know you’re capable of doing. It may take you much longer than others to get things done. You may be disorganized and have trouble managing complex tasks. Or, maybe you get bored easily, forget or lose things, and sometimes be irritated or overwhelmed.
If you believe you may have ADHD, it may be worth your time to get evaluated.
Children/Teens with ADHD
ADHD is a disorder that is usually diagnosed in childhood. Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention, trouble going from one activity to another, and interrupt often. They may also have trouble following rules and be very impulsive.
The term ADHD is somewhat of a misnomer because people with the disorder don’t really have a lack of attention. The problem is you pay attention to everything and have trouble tuning things out so you can focus. Not everyone with ADHD has the hyperactive part. Your child with ADHD may have what is called ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive Type. This means they have the same underlying causes but the symptoms are more about lack of focus and being distracted than about hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
While many people with ADHD learn to make accommodations, some children with ADHD develop poor self-esteem or feel they are “dumb” because they can’t keep up with other kids or they get in trouble with teachers and parents due to behavior they can’t control. Kids with ADHD tend to forget and lose things like homework, talk too much or interrupt, act impulsively, and can be loud and boisterous.
What to do if you think you or your child has ADHD
The first thing you can do if you suspect you have ADHD is educate yourself about it. There are lots of online resources where you can learn about all the symptoms of ADHD. This is helpful in taking the next step which is getting an evaluation.
ADHD is relatively easy to evaluate in children. But it can be confused with other problems such as high functioning Autism (Asperger’s syndrome). There are many evaluation tools used to evaluation ADHD. In addition to formal testing instruments, an evaluation usually includes direct observations in the classroom (for students), and interviews with you and the family.
Do I have to take medication or put my child on medication?
No. Schools will not make your child take medication if they have ADHD. While medication is the most effective treatment, you may have concerns about putting your child on these strong medications. ADHD medications can have serious side effects, like any medication. My viewpoint is if you have concerns about medication it may help to put it off unless your child feels incompetent, “dumb”, or like a “bad kid”. This happens when they can’t get their work done or they keep getting in trouble. Then it may be helpful to consult your child’s pediatrician to discuss medication options. For ADHD in adults, you can also choose to try medication, or learn to make accommodations for yourself such as learning to make lists. ADHD in adults can affect work and relationships so keep in mind that it may be better to try medications than have an adverse effect on those relationships.
There are things you can do instead of, or along with, medications. Ask your school to make accommodations for your child with ADHD or inquire about a Section 504 plan for your child. A good resource for more information is the CHADD group. Their website is https://chadd.org.
You can also make accommodations at home that will help your child work with their ADHD and see better results.