Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) Diagnosis, Assessment & Treatment
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects children and teens and can continue into adulthood. We recognize that it is normal for young children to have difficulty focusing their attention for long periods of time, fidget on their seat, or act without thinking. This is because their attentional capacity and impulse control areas of their brains are not fully developed yet.
However, these may also be symptoms of ADHD. Children with ADHD may be hyperactive and unable control their impulses or they may have trouble paying attention. These signs of ADHD can occur before a child turns seven years old, and it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms to address this at an early age. These behaviours interfere with school and home life.
Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals, and holding down a job. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addiction.
Children and Teens with ADHD have three main difficulties:
- Inattention: difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Impulsivity: acting on impulse without thinking through his/her actions
- Hyperactivity: Often moving around and fidgeting
Additional signs of ADHD for parents to look out for:
- Feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming while seated
- Running, climbing, or leaving a seat in situations where sitting or quiet behavior is expected
- Blurting out answers before hearing the whole question
- Having difficulty waiting in line or taking turns.
- Acting without thinking
- Often becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights, sounds and thoughts
- Often failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes
- Rarely following instructions carefully and completely losing or forgetting things like toys, or pencils, books, and tools needed for a task
- Often skipping from one uncompleted activity to another
Meanwhile, adults can have more subtle symptoms. This means many adults struggle with ADHD and may not know they have it. The following are some additional signs to look for:
- Trouble with planning and getting organized
- Restlessness and difficulty relaxing
- Poor listening skills
- Difficulty with task initiation and completion
- Challenges with managing anger reactions
- Interpersonal and marital problems
It is important to note that individuals who have ADHD are able to pay attention when they are doing things they enjoy, but they struggle with various aspects of attention for tasks that they are not interested in. For example, when the task is repetitive and boring, they are unable to sustain their attention and quickly tune out.
Just because one has symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, it does not mean that they have ADHD. There are many other psychological disorders or stressful situations which can cause symptoms which look like ADHD. Therefore, a thorough assessment from a qualified professional is required for an accurate diagnosis.
At Psych Connect, our clinical and educational psychologist are able to conduct a diagnostic assessment to better understand the underlying processes impacting behavior.
Research has found several evidence-based treatments which are often used to support individuals with ADHD, such as: medication, behavioral therapy, parent education and training, social skills support, support at school/work place, self-regulation and stress management. Experts have found that early intervention that focuses on both the child and the family unit generally lead to best outcome. With early intervention and support, children who have ADHD are able to go on to live successful and fulfilled lives.