ADHD: Give Me the Basics!
ADHD is a commonly diagnosed learning and attention disorder. It is one of the few learning disabilities that has received attention beyond the medical/educational fields and has entered into the public consciousness. Due to it’s place in “common knowledge”, many misperceptions have arisen. ADHD effects a person’s ability to focus and maintain self-control. Just like dyslexia, it is a result of a person’s brain being “wired” differently and often runs in families. There is also a high rate of people having dual diagnoses of ADHD and dyslexia.
Official DSM5 Definition
A. A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, as characterized by (1) and/or (2):
1. Inattention: Six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities:
Note:The symptoms are not solely a manifestation of oppositional behavior, defiance, hostility, or failure to understand tasks or instructions. For older adolescents and adults (age 17 and older), at least five symptoms are required.
a.Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, work is inaccurate)
b.Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy reading).
c.Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).
d.Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked).
e.Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities (e.g., difficulty managing sequential tasks; difficulty keeping materials and belongings in order; messy, disorganized work; has poor time management; fails to meet deadlines).
f.Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g., schoolwork or homework; for older adolescents and adults, preparing reports, completing forms, reviewing lengthy papers).
g.Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
h.Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, may include unrelated thoughts).
i.Is often forgetful in daily activities (e.g., doing chores, running errands; for older adolescents and adults, returning calls, paying bills, keeping appointments).
2. Hyperactivity and impulsivity:Six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities:
Note:The symptoms are not solely a manifestation of oppositional behavior, defiance, hostility, or a failure to understand tasks or instructions. For older adolescents and adults (age 17 and older), at least five symptoms are required.
a.Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat.
b.Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (e.g., leaves his or her place in the classroom, in the office or other workplace, or in other situations that require remaining in place).
c.Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate. (Note:In adolescents or adults, may be limited to feeling restless.)
d.Often unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.
e.Is often “on the go,” acting as if “driven by a motor” (e.g., is unable to be or uncomfortable being still for extended time, as in restaurants, meetings; may be experienced by others as being restless or difficult to keep up with).
f.Often talks excessively.
g.Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed (e.g., completes people’s sentences; cannot wait for turn in conversation).
h.Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn (e.g., while waiting in line).
i.Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations, games, or activities; may start using other people’s things without asking or receiving permission; for adolescents and adults, may intrude into or take over what others are doing).
B. Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present prior to age 12 years.
C. Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms are present in two or more settings (e.g., at home, school, or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
D. There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, academic, or occupational functioning.
E. The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder and are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g., mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, personality disorder, substance intoxication or withdrawal).
What it is and what it is not!
With ADHD the brain develops in an alternative way; it is nota disorder made up by big pharmaceutical companies in order to sell more meds.
Just like autism and dyslexia, ADHD occurs on a spectrum; it is not caused by diet, food additives, or refined sugar.
ADHD can be frustrating and disruptive to every day life but, with learned skills (and sometimes medication) it is manageable; it is nota case of bad parenting!
How is it related to dyslexia
According to the International Dyslexia Association’s fact sheet, “It is estimated that 30% of those with dyslexia have coexisting AD/HD.” While they often coexist, they are not the same thing. ADHD is an attention disorder while dyslexia is a language-based disability. That being said, for varying reasons, people with ADHD and/or dyslexia may have an attention issues related to reading: low reading stamina, reading accuracy, and dysfluent reading. While a combined diagnoses of ADHD and dyslexia may make learning to read more difficult, it is not insurmountable!
Where can I get more information?
The website, Understood.org, has a wealth of information on ADHD and other “learning and attention issues”. A quick search of their website brought up “896 results for ‘ADHD’”. They also have extensive information on dyslexia.