THERAPY FOR LIVING WITH ADHD
Serving Kitchener-Waterloo, Milton, Oakville, London, and the surrounding areas, Anchoridge Counselling wants to help you find ways to understand and work with your ADHD, not against it.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, often referred to as ADHD, is one of the most common mental health disorders impacting children and even adults. ADHD is often characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. However, ADHD can also lead to poor self-esteem, sensitivity towards criticism, and even an increased sense of self-criticism if criticism has been a common experience for them during childhood. ADHD can also greatly impact an individuals academic and professional achievements, interpersonal relationships, and even daily functioning.
While ADHD is often identified in school-age children, it can also be diagnosed later on in life. For many individuals, receiving an ADHD diagnosis helps to shed light on certain behaviours and allows them to better understand themselves and begin living a better life.
How Does ADHD Differ From Regular Child Behaviours?
It is not uncommon for children to have difficulties with impulsively, paying attention, or even sitting still. For children with ADHD the levels of hyperactivity, impulsivity, organization, and inattention are observed at a much higher rate than what is expected for children at their age or developmental level. An important note to remember is that the symptoms associated with ADHD are not the result of the child being defiant or difficult, they just require some extra support to help them excel.
Different Forms of ADHD
When working through a diagnosis for ADHD, the symptoms must be present and persistent over a period of time and must be noticeable for six months. It is not uncommon for ADHD to be diagnosed during adolescents, young adulthood, or even adulthood but it is most commonly diagnosed in childhood. An important note is that the symptoms of ADHD must be present in more than one setting (i.e. at home and at school) and not just in one specific setting (i.e. only at home or only at school).
ADHD can be broken down into three main forms:
ADHD - predominantly inattentive
ADHD - predominantly hyperactive/impulsive
ADHD - combined
ADHD Inattentive Type
When referring to ADHD - predominantly inattentive this is referring to a child experiencing challenges with staying on task, focusing, and organization.
For a diagnosis of this type of ADHD, six (or five for individuals who are 17 years old or older) of the following symptoms must be observed: Doesn’t pay close attention to details in school or work tasks, has difficulties staying focused on tasks or activities, does not seem to listen when spoken to (i.e., seems to be elsewhere), does not follow through on instructions and doesn’t complete schoolwork, chores or job duties (may start tasks but quickly loses focus), has problems organizing tasks and work (i.e. poor time management), avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, often loses things needed for tasks or daily life (i.e. keys or wallet), is easily distracted, and forgets daily tasks (such as doing chores and running errands).
ADHD predominately hyperactive/impulsive refers to excessive movement such as fidgeting, excessive energy, and being talkative. Impulsivity refers to decisions or actions taken without thinking through the consequences.
For a diagnosis of this type of ADHD, six (or five for individuals who are 17 years old or older) of the following symptoms must be observed: fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat, difficulties with staying seated, runs about or climbs where it is inappropriate (i.e. the classroom), unable to play or do leisure activities quietly, always “on the go", extreme talkativeness, blurts out an answer before a question has been finished, has difficulty waiting for their turn, and interrupts or intrudes on others (for instance, cuts into conversations, games or activities, or starts using other people’s things without permission).
ADHD Combined Type
ADHD combined is diagnosed when both criteria for both inattentive and hyperactive/impulse types are met. ADHD may also co-exist with other mental health conditions, such as oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, anxiety disorders, and learning disorders.
What Causes ADHD?
There is growing evidence that genetics contribute to ADHD and several genes have been linked to the disorder, but no specific gene or gene combination has been identified. Further studies have also indicated that the frontal lobes, caudate nucleus, and cerebellar vermis of the brain are affected in ADHD. Several non-genetic factors have also been linked such as low birth weight, premature birth, exposure to toxins (alcohol, smoking, lead, etc.) during pregnancy, and extreme stress during pregnancy.
ADHD and Adults
Many children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to meet criteria for the disorder later in life and may show impairments requiring ongoing treatment. Interestingly enough, many adults with ADHD do not realize they have the disorder. A comprehensive evaluation typically includes a review of past and current symptoms, a medical exam and history, and use of adult rating scales . Adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination. Behaviour management strategies, such as ways to minimize distractions and increase structure and organization, and support from immediate family members can also be helpful. While ADHD may be a difficult diagnosis and process, we are here to support everyone in any way, shape, or form that we can. Gaining the skills to navigate through the symptoms of ADHD can truly help you gain control over the symptoms and excel in so many different aspects of life.