This year’s theme for ADHD awareness month is “Reframing ADHD: Discovering New Perspectives.” ADHD is real! Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological and education organization in the US long ago concluded that ADHD is a real brain-based disorder. They also concluded that children and adults with ADHD benefit from appropriate treatment!
ADHD was first described in 1795 by the German physician Melchior Adam Weikart in his medical textbook in a chapter titled, “deficits.” It was studied extensively in the 1970s, with more than 10,000 scientific papers published on the disorder.
ADHD, one of the most prevalent and misunderstood conditions in the world, may have affected you or someone you love. If so, then ADHD has touched your life.
It affects 6.1 million or 9.4% of school-aged children up to 17 years of age and up to 4.4% of all adults.1
Sometimes referred to as AD/HD or ADD, it’s all the same disorder. There are three primary ways ADHD shows up: inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or a combination of both.
Challenges people with ADHD face may include hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention, and also the belief that they can’t reach their goals because of their ADHD. Individuals may struggle with distractions, procrastination, time management, disorganization, paper nightmares, emotional outbursts, poor planning, losing things, unfinished projects, as well as home, school, and work-related challenges.
ADHD is not a behavioral disorder; it is a disorder of self-regulation. It frequently can be a hidden disorder. Individuals may experience upwards of a 30% developmental delay in age-appropriate skills and emotional development. For example, a 10-year-old may act more like a 7-year-old. Most children, teens, and adults with ADHD have trouble with executive functions, the brain’s control center.
Up to 70% of children with ADHD have at least one other co-existing disorder, such as a learning disorder, anxiety, depression, or obsessive compulsive disorder, and 90% will struggle academically. An estimated 25-50% of people with ADHD experience sleep problems from insomnia to secondary sleep disorders, according to the Sleep Foundation.2 Up to 67% of children will carry ADHD into adulthood, and the family impact is often significant.
Psychiatrists Ned Hallowell and John Ratey are leading the charge to change the name of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. They recommend calling it VAST, or variable attention stimulus trait, a term that “de-medicalizes” ADHD. They state, “ADHD is not a disease found in the realm of pathology, nor is it a deficit of attention, in fact it is an abundance of attention, however it can be unfocused attention, and that the challenge is controlling it.”3
No single test diagnoses ADHD. A comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, is necessary to establish the diagnosis and to rule out other causes. A complete evaluation will include a comprehensive history, ADHD symptom checklists, a standard behavioral rating scale, screening for possible co-existing conditions, a review of past evaluations and school records, and psychometric testing, as seen necessary by the clinician.
When speaking about the treatment of ADHD, the key word is multimodal. This means that the best outcome occurs when many interventions work together as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. A team approach may include medication, parent training, behavioral Intervention, school and work supports, ADHD education, ADHD coaching, and community support.
We know that ADHD is a performance deficit, not an intelligence deficit. It is important that we maintain not only a strength-based approach, but a disability perspective. Having ADHD does not equal “being” ADHD! ADHD is one of the most treatable disorders in psychiatry. With early identification and treatment, children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD can be among the most successful.
Learn how to thrive with ADHD!
1. “ADHD Statistics: New ADD Facts and Research,” ADDitude Magazine, peer reviewed by Sharon Saline, Psy.D.
2. “ADHD and Sleep Problems: How are They Related?” Sleep Foundation, Danielle Pacheco, medically reviewed by Alex Dimitriu, M.D.
3. “ADHD Needs a Better Name. We Have One.” ADDitude Magazine, Ned Hallowell, M.D., and John Ratey, M.D.
CHADD: CHADD is the premier association for families and adults with ADHD. Membership includes the latest information on treatment, education, and rights for people with ADHD. It links one to others living with ADHD and engages in federal and state advocacy on behalf of all people with ADHD. www.CHADD.com
National Resource Center on ADHD: A program of CHADD, it’s the national clearinghouse of information and resources on ADHD. Information found on this site is reliable, scientific, and research-based. https://chadd.org/about/about-nrc/
Attention Deficit Disorder Association: ADDA is a community of supportive ADHD adults that empowers members to reach their potential and helps them to thrive. www.add.org
ADDitude Magazine: ADDitude is an outstanding quarterly publication for families and adults with ADHD. Contact ADDitude and receive a free magazine. www.ADDitudeMag.com
ADD Joy of Life Coaching, LLC: ADD Joy of Life is a strength-based company dedicated to empowering young people and adults to experience success with ADHD through coaching, education, resources and community. Discover where your ADHD shows up AND what to do about it. Call today for your free consultation: (260) 415-3412, Cheryl.Gigler@addjoyoflife.com, www.addjoyoflife.com