Basic things to know about ADHD

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a term that’s thrown around so frequently these days, we all assume we know what it means. Used to apply to everyone from a kid who misbehaves in school to an adult who has trouble focusing on a single TV or computer screen at a time, ADHD is actually a clinical diagnosis. Learning more about what ADHD is – and isn’t – can help you determine if you or someone you love warrants further testing

ADHD stands for “attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.” In common parlance, it’s used interchangeably with ADD, which stands for “attention deficit disorder.” However, this term refers to cases where there’s attention deficit, but no hyperactivity involved.
From a layperson’s point of view, ADHD means the person – often a child — has problems concentrating and paying attention.

Of course, that can be applied to pretty much any child over the course of a typical day. What sets people with ADHD apart is that the area of the brain responsible for clarity, mental focus and activity is actually wired differently. What that means is that even when you try to “settle down,” your mind just doesn’t want to comply. You can tell yourself to relax, focus, and pay attention, but you just can’t make your mind and body comply.

So from an outsider’s perspective, how do you tell if your child is just suffering from normal “wigglies,” or really has ADHD? Let’s take a look more closely.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

There are three main components of ADHD: hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Each has similar symptoms but they can be distinguished enough to determine if your child has one, two or all of the components.

Signs of hyperactivity include:
• difficulty sitting still, frequent fidgeting and squirming uncontrollably
• the inability to stay seated, even when they’re instructed to stay still
• inappropriate behavior like climbing or playing at inappropriate times, or on inappropriate objects like chairs or desks
• problems playing quietly when requested
• incessant talking even when instructed to be quiet

Signs of inattention include:
• trouble staying on task for even short periods of time
• lack of attention when you are speaking to them
• issues with staying organized at school, work and home
• forgetfulness regarding assignments, requests, chores, homework, etc.
• easy distractability when performing a task

Signs of impulsivity include:
• difficulty waiting in line
• blurting out of answers in class or in meetings even when not called on
• constant interruption of conversations

If you or your child has exhibited any of these signs, the next step is testing. A professional assessment can give you more insight into the condition, with regards to possible treatment and management.