Understanding and Identifying Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, sometimes known as ADD, although now classified as ADHD, can be difficult to understand or even identify. This is true whether you’re the sufferer of this condition, or the family member, parent, or friend of someone who is suffering. Symptoms of ADD begin during childhood, and because of that, they are sometimes misinterpreted as symptoms of puberty or a developing child finding it hard to integrate. Knowing how to identify ADHD and understanding what it is, will ensure that the right help can be sought from health professionals.

What is ADHD?

Scientifically, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorder. For sufferers, this means that there will be difficulties maintaining attention span and controlling impulses. Because the condition develops in childhood, it can have a significant impact on learning and social development. Early diagnosis is made when symptoms appear for longer than six months, in children between the age of six and twelve.

Regardless of the condition developing in childhood, many adults are also living with ADHD, and in many cases the condition may be undiagnosed. Many adults are able to live with the condition by implementing checks and controls into their daily life. These involve having a strict organizational system, and can even involve special diets.

In children, central nervous system stimulant drugs are sometimes prescribed, to better balance inhibitions and impulse control.

Which Outward Symptoms are Indicative of ADHD?

The reason why ADHD can be difficult to diagnose is because the outward symptoms often correspond to typical developmental phases in children. Parents and family members should become concerned when the symptoms are excessive, are causing problems in school or with friends and family, and when extreme symptoms persist over months, with no signs of improvement.

  • Lack of Attention Span. This symptom can be hard to diagnose in children, who typically have short attention spans. It will become most evident when children begin school. This will lead to disorganization, lack of focus, forgetfulness, and inability to maintain a clear line of thought when writing or conversing.
  • Hyperactivity. This outward symptom can be fairly obvious, but again, is difficult to observe until children have reached school age. Hyperactivity will be characterized by a child feeling the need to be frequently active, and they may move constantly, even when seated. Hyperactivity will lead to active behaviors, even during inappropriate times. Rapid and continuous speech may also be observed.
  • Impulsivity. Having no control of impulses will cause a child (or adult) to perform actions that are inappropriate to the scenario that they are in. This may include knocking things over and damaging objects without reason. This can also lead to unexpectedly speaking at inappropriate times or places.

Professional Diagnosis and Treatment

Professionals will adhere to the DSM-5 Manual to diagnose ADHD against widely accepted criteria. Symptoms relating to the above categories will be observed and noted, before a diagnosis is made.

Do you suspect you have ADHD or do you know someone who may be suffering? Seeking help is the best thing to do, to ensure that any sufferer has the right understanding and support. When ADHD is treated early, there is less impact on education and social development, allowing for ADHD sufferers to live a well-integrated life through youth and into adulthood.

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Latest update: May 2, 2016
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