So, it’s ADHD awareness month.
Do we know what we are being aware of?
Our awareness of what ADHD is, and who it affects has changed greatly in the past 10 years. You may have friends or relatives that are affected by ADHD, but not aware of it. So like I wrote in one of my previous blogs it’s not just in kids… right?
In this months blog we explore five common myths that might increase ADHD awareness for the better.
ADHD is just in kids… Am I right?
This is perhaps one of the greatest misunderstandings regarding ADHD. Many people think that once kids leave school they “grow out of their ADHD.”
Many people also discontinue their medications at this time.
In fact this big transition from school to tertiary education (TAFE or University) or entering the workplace often causes more challenges for a person with ADHD. Many teens with ADHD struggle with this transition .This can be difficult as they need to create their own structure for planning and organisation. Issues such as impulsivity or challenges in planning and organisation can be extremely overwhelming and be a barrier to success both in the short and long term.
In about 30% of cases ADHD is a condition that stretches across the lifespan. That is one in three people don’t grow out of it.
ADHD is just about kids being “hyper.”
While hyperactivity is one of the three commonly understood core symptoms of ADHD there are another two of equal importance. Think ADHD and most people think of the “10 year old school boy, jumping on the desk at school”. But there is much more to it than that. Children challenged with Hyperactivity are the ones that get noticed. There are two other “core symptoms” of ADHD, one being Impulsivity and the other, Inattention.
Inattention seems to be the symptom that is most overlooked. This is because the inattentive child will go ” under the radar ” in a classroom situation. An inattentive child or adult will most likely appear as someone that is quite dreamy, often caught in their own thoughts. They often struggle to be in touch with what is happening around them. Impulsivity can also impair the path to success. This can be seen as “talking too much or talking out of turn”. Often impulsivity is displayed when making poor choices, risky behaviours, saying the wrong, or insensitive things, not being able to wait turns, butting in on conversations, not listening fully before responding, making rushed decisions and careless mistakes in reading and writing, maths, to name a few. It can especially impact on social situations.
People that think they are ADHD should just try harder to be more organised
Living with ADHD and treating it is not as simple as just trying harder. This would be like telling someone who needs to wear glasses or contact lenses just to squint harder so they can see better. ..
ADHD isn’t a real thing, you can’t measure it. It’s probably just bad parenting.
There was a time when I may have thought this also… before I read the research.
It’s official and it’s in the DSMV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual #5-it is the “Gold standard ” diagnostic tool for Diagnosticians/Physicians. If it’s in there, it’s diagnosable and it does indeed exist.
ADHD has been recognised as a legitimate diagnosis by many major Medical, Psychological and Educational organisations, with current research to support it.
ADHD is biologically based . Current research in neuroscience explains it as an imbalance of chemical messages along the brain nerve tissue pathways (the medical term being neuro transmitters). Innovations in brain imaging techniques also supports the evidence that the brains of people with ADHD respond differently to brains that are not impacted with ADHD.
ADHD doesn’t appear in really smart people. Smart people can organise themselves.
Many people with ADHD have a higher than average intelligence quota. These people have great passion and have great attention and focus for some areas, but they have difficulty regulating their lives in other areas. Absent mindedness ( think absent minded Professor ), losing their keys, not noticing clutter, disorganisation particularly related to paper/paperwork, trouble regulating their emotions, all can be part of executive function challenges. Thomas E Brown Ph.D recently wrote a book that reflected this point exactly, “Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD. ” (2014). Additionally, he recently conducted a study of 157 adults with ADHD, all having above average intelligence quota 120 or above. Of this group, all had challenges with working memory, a key executive function skill.
So, bearing in mind it is ADHD Awareness month, it may be a good time to notice who among ourselves and our loved ones could use that awareness in a positive way. There is no shame in the uniqueness that ADHD can afford individuals. There are challenges but also great strengths in this way of being. You can’t adapt to something you don’t notice or acknowledge, so there is power in this awareness. “Now” is always a great time to start .