Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects many individuals, couples and families. ADHD is a neurological processing disorder, affecting a person’s ability to regulate impulsivity and activity level, as well as to pay attention. ADHD affects individuals in different ways, but there seem to be some patterns which can be explored. Let’s look at four main complex issues that are affected in individuals with ADHD:
1. Ability to pay attention and to stay focused. Many individuals with ADHD struggle with distractibility, loss of interest with a project or work, struggles with re-directing attention once diverted and curbing wandering thoughts. Of course, everybody has moments where they feel they can’t stay focused, but within individuals with ADHD these struggles tend to be more noticeable, more defined and more debilitating.
2. Ability to regulate impulses and to balance one’s decisions and behaviors. Included here is also the ability to regulate one’s emotions. People with ADHD are often described as "flying off the handle," "having a quick tongue," or other unpredictable behaviors, such as bursting into a conversation, being unable to wait in a line, having a hard time driving in traffic, and so on. Individuals with ADHD will often later regret having acted impulsively.
3. Ability to regulate activity level. This is the “H” in ADHD. Hyperactivity is one of the describing characteristics of ADHD. Afflicted individuals tend to be fidgety, unable to sit still, feeling the need to move their bodies. They can also struggle with sleep, either by not being able to go to sleep comfortably, having interrupted sleep, or not needing much sleep at all.
Of course, you can also see the opposite end of the activity level spectrum. There are individuals who are not identified with the “H,” but rather are described as having ADD-inattentive type, meaning their behavior shows signs of low activity level. They might be described as “dreamers.” When addressed, they may not respond right away, but, after a moment, will say, “What?” They might actually fall asleep at a meeting (or if a student, in school).
4. Social Skills issues and concerns.
If you are looking at a child diagnosed with ADHD, you might hear teachers describing the child as “not paying attention, speaking out of turn, always forgetting his homework, being lazy, being disrespectful, always getting into trouble, being rude to teachers, getting frustrated, acting out," and so on. If you suspect that a child might have symptoms of ADHD, it is really important to explore your suspicions. Your child’s school can offer testing to determine if a diagnosis of ADHD is warranted and accommodations might then be able to be put in place to support your child academically and socially. ▪
There are many excellent resources for individuals who are interested in learning more about how ADHD affects adults and children. Some online resources are:
There are chapters of CHADD in all states and in many counties, inlcuding one in Montgomery County, MD.
The Montgomery County Chadd chapter is very active in the community. As a member of the board, I am involved in planning certain events and support the efforts of our local chapter. We certainly are a fun loving bunch! •