ADHD ASSESSMENT EXPLAINED
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that can cause significant difficulties with attention, focus, organisation, impulse control, and motor restlessness (hyperactivity). It runs in families and the majority of those diagnosed in childhood will still be impaired by the condition in adulthood. Still to this day, most children who have ADHD are never diagnosed in childhood, hence the reason why large numbers of adults who believe they have the condition are coming forward for assessment.
The current literature points to three main types of ADHD:
This is the most common presentation whereby there is significant impairment with attention, impulsivity, and motor-restlessness.
This profile is the second most common presentation whereby the individual will be inattentive, easily distracted, struggle to plan and prioritise, as well as having poor organisational skills for their age and stage. The Inattentive Sub-type is also recognised for having great difficulty with what is known as Executive Function (Link to a Glossary of Terms)
Hyperactive / Impulsive Sub-type
In this category, problems with attention, focus and organisation are secondary to severe problems with motor restlessness and poor impulse control. This group are sometimes referred to as being ‘unable to sit still’, or ‘constantly on the go’, and they ‘lack a filter’. This can mean that they do not assess situations before they say or do something, which could result in them finding themselves in bother.
The Impact of ADHD
Don’t be fooled when a person with ADHD is highly successful in some areas of their life or when they can turn their hand to completing complex tasks or projects that others would find too difficult. It is generally the routine and straightforward tasks that those with ADHD struggle the most; the easy things in life if you like. What is easy for neurotypical people (those who don’t have ADHD) is often the most difficult for those with ADHD. For example, how many children and adults with ADHD find it very difficult to put their clothes away? Nearly all of them!
Having ADHD means that you will have a very short attention span for things that are routine and sometimes, even for things that are important. You can find it difficult to follow simple instructions and complete tasks, you can zone out quickly unless you are interested, you lose and misplace things, and you can leave everything until the last minute. Speaking of minutes, having ADHD often means that you are not good with time. Being late, running out of time, spending too much time on interesting things, as well as boring things feeling like they will never end, are common problems with time for those who have ADHD.
For the vast majority, ADHD is a life-long condition. That is, if it is something that affects you in childhood, chances are, it will stay with you throughout your adult life. As well as greatly affecting your ability to navigate normal, everyday life, ADHD can also adversely affect an individual in the following areas:
- Employment opportunities
- Life-style choices
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
Whilst ADHD might provide you with an abundance of creativity, ideas, and imagination (the good stuff) that neurotypicals could only dream of, without the proper supports and treatments, it can also limit an individual’s life chances. It is not uncommon for an adult in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s to bring a school report card to their assessment that reads: ‘They have so much potential, if only they paid more attention and applied themselves to their studies…’. That same adult will invariably tell us, ‘I have still to reach my potential’.
Ask any adult with ADHD what it is like for them, and they will often tell you that they have a very poor sense of control with regards to, who they are, what they are about, how their life got to this point and where their life is going. They feel like they are just getting swept along and whatever happens will happen without them being able to fully influence the outcome or their goals. Sadly, if we asked children with ADHD the same question, and if they could articulate an answer, they might very well say the same thing. This is probably why we hear the term; ‘Imposter Syndrome’ being referenced so often.
Summary of Common ADHD Symptoms
It’s time to get help if you have severe, persistent, and pervasive symptoms of the following:
- Emotional Dysregulation
- Fidgety / Restlessness
Recognising Symptoms and Getting Help
Early identification of symptoms can lead to assessment and treatment in primary school age children, which in turn, can lead to better outcomes with them being more likely to fulfil their academic potential and grow up to become well-adjusted adults who achieve great things in life.
So, if the above descriptions resonate with you or if you recognise any of the following symptoms in your child or yourself, then now is the time to reach out to ADHD Direct and we can help achieve the success they and you deserve.
ADHD Direct has a wealth of experience in assessing and treating those affected by ADHD. Our clinical experts are here for you. Our aim is to help you achieve the results in life that you deserve and to become the best version of yourself.
‘ADHD does not start when the school bell rings at 9 and then stop at the end of the school day. It does not suddenly appear when you are 5 and then disappear when you are 16. For most, ADHD is persistent, it is there all the time, and it is a lifelong condition’.
– Gordon Brown, CEO ADHD Direct, January 2023
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It can affect people of all ages, although it is often diagnosed in childhood. ADHD can impact an individual’s ability to focus, regulate impulses, and effectively manage tasks and activities in daily life.
The symptoms of ADHD are typically categorised into two main types: inattentive symptoms and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.
Common symptoms include
- difficulty sustaining attention
- difficulties with organisation
- Difficulties with task management.
Yes, absolutely. Not all individuals with ADHD exhibit hyperactive behaviour. Some may primarily have inattentive symptoms, which is often referred to as the Predominantly Inattentive Presentation of ADHD. So, lack of hyperactivity does not rule out an ADHD diagnosis.
Hyperfocus is a state of intense and sustained concentration on a particular task or activity. It can occur in individuals with ADHD, where they become deeply engrossed in something, often to the exclusion of other responsibilities.
Executive functioning refers to a set of mental skills that help individuals manage and organise their thoughts, actions, and goals. It includes abilities like working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control, and organisation. Many individuals with ADHD may experience challenges related to executive functioning.
ADHD can affect various aspects of a child’s life beyond school, including relationships, organisation, time management, emotional regulation, and daily tasks. It can influence their performance in extracurricular activities and social interactions. ADHD management and support are important in all areas of a child’s life.
Yes, ADHD is believed to be a brain-based condition. Research suggests that it involves differences in brain structure and function, particularly in areas related to attention, impulse control, and executive functioning.
ADHD can be managed through a combination of approaches, including behavioural therapy or coaching, medication (commonly stimulant or non-stimulant medications), and lifestyle adjustments. The choice of treatment depends on the individual’s specific symptoms and needs.
Yes, ADHD can affect sleep patterns. Some individuals with ADHD may have difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep. Sleep problems can further exacerbate ADHD symptoms and daily functioning.
Time blindness is a term used to describe a common symptom of ADHD, where individuals have difficulty perceiving and managing time. They may struggle with estimating how long tasks will take, staying on schedule, and planning for the future. This can lead to issues with punctuality and time management.