Welcome to our second post in the ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) series!
In our first post, we went back to basics, and covered the following points:
➼ What is ADHD and who experiences it?
➼ Common signs and symptoms
➼ Mental health concerns related to ADHD
➼ A few common myths about ADHD
For today's contribution, we dug deep into the depths of the interwebs to find out what people want to know about ADHD. If you have a question, chances are that thousands (even millions) of others want to know the exact same thing. That's the lovely thing about the internet- it helps us realize we are in it together.
Having said that, learning about health concerns from the internet can be a traumatizing experience. To the best of our knowledge, we leaned on reliable resources to bring you this information and will link them throughout the article.
So, you asked, we answered. Here we go :)
Question 1: Can ADHD Be Cured? Or Can You Grow Out Of It?
We do not currently have a cure for ADHD. However, ADHD can be treated and symptoms can be managed.
Most people with ADHD experience problems with executive function skills. These are the mental processes that enable us to do things like pay attention, organize, plan, regulate emotions, and inhibit reactions. It's like our brain's management system.
Everyone's executive function skills develop in a unique manner. For those with ADHD, the brain's management system develops in a way that makes certain mental processes more difficult to carry out. This is why a cure is too simplistic!
As for growing out of ADHD, please refer to this excellent video:
Here are some key points:
- Hyperactivity tends to fade as children with ADHD get older
- Attention issues actually tend to increase
- It's possible for most symptoms to diminish while the attention difficulties remain
- The most troublesome years for young people with ADHD tend to be junior high, high school, and early years in college/university because these are the years where we have many requirements for tasks that cannot be avoided
As they get older, people with ADHD have more options to specialize and play to their strengths- these choices can be liberating! They no longer have to adapt to a system that doesn't meet their needs. Instead, they can carve their own path and pursue their own interests.
In other words, for many people with ADHD, it gets easier with time.
Question 2: What Should I Do If I Think My Child Has ADHD?
As a parent, if you suspect your child may have ADHD, there are a series of steps you can take to begin the assessment process. This process involves the child themselves, parents, educators, and medical professionals.
This is an excellent summary of what how to begin navigating the formal assessment process.
Question 3: Is ADHD A Learning Disability?
ADHD is not a learning disability. It does, however, affect learning. What's the difference between the two?
A learning disability makes it difficult to learn certain academic skills such as reading, writing, and math. Dyslexia is an example of learning disability that affects learning in school.
ADHD on the other hand, affects broader, more global mental processing skills (i.e. paying attention, controlling impulses). It's easy to see why ADHD can be confused for a learning disability. For example, it's difficult to excel in school when you can't pay attention in class or focus on homework, tests, and assignments.
Learning disabilities and ADHD can and do overlap. It's actually not uncommon for kids to have BOTH a learning disability and ADHD. In fact, about half of children who have ADHD also have a learning disability.
Question 4: Are Boys And Men More Likely To Get ADHD?
This is a myth! Research shows that women and girls have ADHD as often as men and boys. So how did this idea come about that men and boys have ADHD more often than women and girls?
In the schools years, girls and boys tend to have different ways of expressing their symptoms. However, this is not a hard and fast rule- every child is different.
Boys with ADHD are more likely to display EXTERNAL signs of ADHD that are difficult for parents and teachers to ignore. They tend to act out more and behave in impulsive or hyperactive ways. These behaviours are more likely to gather attention, which might explain why people think boys are diagnosed with ADHD more often.
ADHD symptoms in girls tend to be more subtle (though they are not invisible). For example, fidgeting, being chatty, spacey, and easily distracted. Although, this does NOT mean that girls are not hyperactive or impulsive or that they have an easier time with ADHD.
Question 5: Should I Tell My Employer or University That I Have ADHD?
This is a very personal decision that depends on several factors. On the one hand, employers and university staff cannot provide accommodations unless a disability is disclosed. On the other hand, disclosing a disability can lead to discrimination, depending on the workplace or school.
The decision to disclose in an academic environment is a bit less risky because most institutions have an Accessibility Department that can provide accommodations. The process can be simple or complicated depending on the documentation required to 'prove' that accommodations are needed. Once a student has gone through the process, however, they usually find their academic experience is enhanced by the support of Accessibility services.
In the workplace, the decision to disclose is less straightforward. Not every workplace is set up to provide reasonable accommodations. Not to mention, some bosses and supervisors can be ignorant and behave in discriminatory ways.
Here are things to consider when deciding whether to disclose:
- Is your performance at work struggling due to ADHD? Are you afraid of losing your job due to this performance? If yes, it might be a good idea to consider talking to someone about the reasons behind your performance issues
- If you are doing fairly well at work, or have developed strategies that help with ADHD symptoms, it might not be necessary to bring your diagnosis to your employers' attention
Question 6: What Is It Like To Have ADHD As An Adult?
Every person who has ADHD also has a unique experience with it. Like with any health or mental health issue, it's usually not helpful to make sweeping generalizations.
The best people to tell us what it is like to live with ADHD, are people who actually live with ADHD! You can read some personal accounts here. Read about the ups and downs in a typical day here.
Question 7: Can You Take Medication To Manage ADHD?
Some strategies to manage ADHD include medication. It's important to discuss this with a medical doctor! The information we are providing here is a broad guide, and should not be your primary point of reference. Furthermore, the course of treatment for children and adults is different- always seek professional guidance when navigating this matter!
The class of drugs most often prescribed for ADHD are stimulants. You may have heard of these commonly prescribed brand name drugs for ADHD: Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine.
The overall effect of stimulants for people who have ADHD is to increase concentration, help control impulses, and plan and organize. They are known to boost dopamine levels in the brain. However, there is no magic pill to 'cure' ADHD. You can read more about medications commonly prescribed for ADHD here.
As mentioned earlier, your first resource for medication consultations should always be a medical doctor!
Question 8: What Can I Do To Make Life Easier For Someone Who Has ADHD?
One of the most important things we can do as people who live with, work with, are friends with, or support those with ADHD is to understand their needs.
These needs may be different from our own. It's important to acknowledge this and not impose our way of being in the world on those who experience it differently (this is also a general rule of thumb, ADHD or not)
Here are a few things to consider:
- It's important to make people feel loved and accepted as they are- those with ADHD are no exception to this principle
- People with ADHD (like everyone else) will make mistakes- and sometimes these mistakes may be particularly frustrating. It's important not to consistently have an excessive reaction because many of these mistakes are not malicious or intentional. I.e. Being late all the time is usually due to difficulty planning and organizing, not because they are purposely being careless
- Do not undermine the contributions of people who have ADHD or underestimate their capabilities. At the same time, recognize that there are certain things that are more challenging for someone with ADHD. Being there to provide guidance and empowerment can go a long way!
- Do not try to 'fix them' or insist that trying harder or focusing better can lead to improved results. It's about as helpful as asking someone who is nearsighted to simply 'see farther'
Question 9: I Can't Seem To Focus These Days. Do I Have ADHD?
During the pandemic, medical and mental health professionals are seeing an increase in clients who are suspecting they might have ADHD. Working, parenting, and being a student during a pandemic is incredibly difficult. Most of us are feeling burnt out and frustrated with how relentless our circumstances are.
It's important to know that the majority of us are feeling this way! And it's completely understandable. However, difficulty focusing does not necessarily mean that you have ADHD. It's true that it's possible to have undiagnosed ADHD as an adult. In these cases, people can usually cite lifelong difficulties with attention, concentration, and difficulty organizing and planning. The pandemic is a situational factor impacting our mental processes and does not automatically indicate a case of undiagnosed ADHD.
Still interested in being assessed for ADHD? Assessment as an adult can be a lengthy and comprehenive process. It requires at minimum a full-day assessment. Private clinics will charge a substantial fee for an assessment. If finances are a concern, there are free assessment services available. However, the waitlists can be extensive. This is not meant to be discouraging! It's important to know what we are getting into💜
We hope you found this mini FAQ helpful! Do you have any further questions? Please comment below to let us know or email us at : firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a DM on Instagram (@wellnestherapy). We are happy to address them!
Until next time!
Mental Health Content Specialist