Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means it refers to the way the brain has developed its neurological pathways which influences how a person functions and what they do. It does NOT mean bad parenting!
There are currently no biological tests to diagnose ADHD so it is essentially a collection of information to find if there is prevalence with a set of behaviours based on symptoms of:
Inattention – for example, struggling to focus and making careless mistakes.
Hyperactivity – for example, fidgeting, swaying and restlessness
Impulsivity – for example, not thinking before you act, blurting out answers/interrupting
I am sure you can think of times where you or your child/young person has done some or all the above. The difference is that with ADHD, these behaviours significantly impact activities of daily life.
A day in the life of a teen with ADHD
Let me introduce you to Seamus. Seamus is in year 9 and has ADHD.
Seamus hates school and struggles in all lessons. It is complicated for Seamus as teachers don't understand his struggles and he feels that they don't like him and that he doesn't belong. At home, mum and dad are trying hard to help Seamus, but school makes them feel like they are bad parents which is very upsetting, resulting in parents and Seamus not trusting the school.
It is important to understand that not everyone with ADHD have the same symptoms or level of severity. ADHD diagnosis are separated into three types or presentations:
In our experience, those with ADHD often have other existing conditions such as anxiety, learning disabilities and depression. There is also significant evidence to show increased school exclusion rates and higher risk for challenges in adulthood, even when a child is on the special educational needs register.
The good news is that despite there not being a cure for ADHD, with the right coping mechanisms, support and treatment those with ADHD can thrive in life and achieve anything they choose to.