The theme for this year’s ADHD Awareness Month is “Knowing is Better.” In keeping with that theme, here are some basic facts you should know about ADHD.
Is ADHD real?
Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States long ago concluded that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a real, brain-based medical disorder. These organizations also concluded that children and adults with ADHD benefit from appropriate treatment. ADHD may affect people of every age, gender, IQ, religious and socio-economic background. Factors that appear to increase the likelihood of having the disorder include gender, family history, prenatal risks, environmental toxins, and physical differences in the brain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of children in the United States who have ever been diagnosed with ADHD is approximately 11%. Boys are diagnosed two to three times as often as girls. Among adults, the Harvard/NIMH National Comorbidity Survey Replication found 4.4% percent of adults, ages 18-44 experience symptoms of ADHD.
ADHD or ADD?
The correct name for this condition is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, whether or not hyperactivity is the predominant symptom. Individuals with ADHD may present with both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, or one symptom pattern may be more pronounced. There are three different “types” or “presentations” of ADHD that may be diagnosed: ADHD combined-type, ADHD inattentive-type and ADHD hyperactive/impulsive-type.
What’s the difference?
Individuals who have ADHD Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation are easier to spot. They appear to be in constant motion. Their bodies and mouths are always going, as if driven by a motor. In comparison, those with ADHD Inattentive Presentation may go unnoticed. Their major symptoms are internal and therefore, often hidden. These may include daydreaming, shifting from task to task without finishing anything, becoming easily distracted, missing important details, making careless mistakes, getting bored quickly, having trouble getting organized, not seeming to listen when spoken to, being slow to understand information and having trouble following instructions. Those with ADHD Combined Type have both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.
Doesn’t everybody do those things sometimes?
Yes, and that is why diagnosing ADHD is a complex process. In order for a diagnosis of ADHD to be considered, the person must exhibit a large number of symptoms, demonstrate significant problems with daily life in several major life areas (work, school, home or friends), and have had the symptoms for a minimum of six months. What makes ADHD different from other conditions is that the symptoms are excessive, pervasive, and persistent. That is, behaviors are more extreme, show up in multiple settings, and continue showing up throughout life.
Is medicine the only treatment option?
Absolutely not. In fact, not only is medication not the only treatment, it is not always the best treatment, especially for young children. Best practices for treatment of ADHD are multi-faceted. Available approaches focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Besides medication, treatment options include behavioral interventions, education or training, educational support and various types of psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Usually a person with ADHD receives a combination of treatments.
What resources are available to learn more about ADHD?
There are many resources available. Savannah Educational Consultants has credentialed, experienced professionals that can work with you, your child and family to help develop strategies that work.
Some of the best resources that you can access on the internet are:
- CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), is a national non-profit organization working to improve the lives of affected people through education, advocacy and support. From lobbying to local support groups, CHADD is a leader in the field of ADHD. chadd.org
- CHADD is also the sponsor of the National Resource Center on AD/HD. The center is funded by the CDC and has tons of science-based information about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. help4adhd.org
- About.com has a great AD/HD column written by Keath Low. New content posted each week is full of information, support and ideas you can use. Past columns provide an excellent on-line resource for nearly any ADHD related topic you can think of. (About.com is owned by the New York Times Company.)
- ADD Resources is another non-profit serving the ADHD community. It has an extensive directory of workshops, conferences, publications, and articles for parents, teachers, adults, and medical professionals. The organization supports itself through memberships; there is a fee to access some content.
- ADDvance.com provides answers to questions about ADHD for families and individuals at every stage of life from preschool through retirement years.