Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopment disorder that affects concentration, attention and directs impulsive behavior. ADHD symptoms often become present during childhood but continue well throughout one’s life. Although it is typical for children to have difficulty with their behavior or focus, children with ADHD may experience even greater struggles that can negatively affect their academic and social functioning. ADHD is more than just a lack of attention or concentration- it is a disorder that directly affects the brain.
What is ADHD?
People experience a variety of symptoms with a diagnosis of ADHD. A diagnosis is made based upon age-specific symptoms and the duration of symptoms present. Some common symptoms of ADHD may include:
- Being easily distracted
- Trouble maintaining attention with tasks or activities
- Inability to follow through on instructions
- Difficulty organizing
- Excessive talking
- Running or climbing during inappropriate times
- Blurting out answers
- Trouble waiting their turn
- Interrupts others during discussions
- Experiencing consistent restlessness
- Lose necessary items for tasks or activities
- Forgetful in daily activities
The symptoms listed combine symptoms from the three types of ADHD: Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, or a combination of both. Inattentive ADHD is present when an individual experiences struggle with organization, following instructions, staying engaged in conversation, or finishing a task. Inattentive ADHD individuals struggle with being easily distracted and forgetting necessary details of their daily routine. Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD gets categorized based on lack of patience and impulsive behavior. This type of ADHD may be seen in individuals that always feel restless, speak at inappropriate times, have difficulty waiting their turn, or struggle to sit still for normal amounts of time. Symptoms can change over time, as well as the presentation of symptoms in individuals with ADHD.
What Causes ADHD?
Although there is no single identifiable cause of ADHD, current research shows that genetics may play an important role in the development of ADHD. In addition to genetics, other possible causes and risk factors may include:
- Brain injury
- Low or premature birth weight
- Drug or alcohol use during pregnancy
- Exposure to environmental toxins at a young age
ADHD in the Brain
ADHD is a neurodevelopment disorder in that it is strongly associated with low levels of neurotransmitters in the brain’s reward center. These low levels of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and noradrenaline, directly affect the regulation of one’s mood. Therefore, medicines prescribed for ADHD symptoms improve attention by helping these natural brain chemicals function better.
There is a stigma associated with ADHD. As it affects many social and academic factors of a person’s life, individuals with ADHD are likely to experience stigma and discrimination. It is an ongoing issue for mental health as the stigma of disorders affects individuals getting the help they need, thus creating adherence to treatment. If we neglect to address the misconceptions of ADHD and the treatment associated with it, individuals that suffer from ADHD will not seek out the necessary treatment.
Addressing ADHD Misconceptions
1. “My child is too young to have ADHD.”
One common misconception is that ADHD is a problem for school-aged children, although this is not the case. An ADHD diagnosis and the presence of symptoms can occur in the earliest ages of children. It may be difficult for doctors to differentiate normal behavior from a child potentially experiencing ADHD symptoms, although the severity of symptoms will play a crucial role in diagnosis. When symptoms reach a point of consistently interfering with a child’s development and overall functioning, they may qualify for an ADHD diagnosis.
2. “My child can play video games for hours. There is no way he has ADHD.”
While individuals with ADHD have difficulty holding attention over long periods, this can be specifically evident in academic or environments less stimulating than video games. If your child can stay engaged in their video games for long periods but struggle to hold attention in many other environments, they may have ADHD. For example, in an academic setting, schedules are structured, and assignments are lengthy. ADHD is most commonly diagnosed during school years because children’s attention behaviors become clearly evident, especially if they are experiencing social and behavioral struggles in the classroom.
3. “If my child does not receive an ADHD diagnosis after evaluation, she must not need any behavioral help.”
ADHD is diagnosed on a continuum, meaning that a child may exhibit numerous symptoms but not to the extent of ADHD diagnosis. However, this does not explicitly mean that they do not need help coping with the social or academic issues they face. If your child is experiencing difficulty with their daily functioning, behavioral and social treatment options are available to help your child succeed even without an ADHD diagnosis. You are your child’s biggest advocate for their personal development.
ADHD is a common developmental disorder that often surfaces during childhood. While ADHD symptoms often overlap, symptoms are categorized by inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Even the youngest children can qualify for an ADHD diagnosis, as many ADHD behaviors can look like “normal” childlike behaviors. As we educate ourselves on the symptoms and diagnoses of ourselves and our children, it is crucial to address the stigma associated with mental health. Mental health disorders, like ADHD, occur from chemical imbalances in the brain. There are medications and treatments available to help this imbalance and foster concentration and attention in kids who have ADHD. When our children experience difficulties with their daily functioning, we must normalize difficulties with functioning at the cost of ADHD. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center wants to work with you to foster positive social and academic habits in your child. Call us today to learn more at (303) 443-3343.