What is ADHD?

ADHD is a medical term for a characteristic group of symptoms which if untreated may lead to under-achievement and poor social skills despite normal intellect and quality parenting.

There are three main subtypes of ADHD; therefore, not all children with ADHD will present with the same behaviours.

Predominantly inattentive ADHD: Inattention is the main presenting problem. This subtype is more passive than the others, consisting of ‘daydreaming’. Impulsivity and hyperactivity are sometimes present but to a lesser degree.

Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD: Hyperactive and impulsive behaviours are present. Inattention may be present as well, though generally not as obvious.

Combined ADHD: All three ADHD behaviours – hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity – are present in fairly equal measures.

There is no doubt that ADHD leads to impairments in major life activities, including social relations, education, family functioning, occupational functioning, self-sufficiency and adherence to social rules, norms and laws. It was originally thought to affect more boys than girls but it is now believed the incidence is actually 1:1 with girls often presenting with inattentive type and therefore more likely to be overlooked.  ADHD occurs in all ethnic and socio-economic groups and often runs in families.

The condition is widespread, poorly understood and frequently remains undiagnosed. It often causes distress in family, work and social situations, mainly from unrealistic expectations, condemnation and rejection.

Understanding and accepting the condition is half the battle for those having to deal with the ADHD on a regular basis such as parents, teachers and youth leaders etc. Those involved can make a positive impact on an individual by showing appreciation and acknowledgment of the person’s ADHD.

Each person will vary in the type, number, frequency and severity of their symptoms and to determine the best treatment, a medical and educational assessment is recommended. ADHD children do not mature at the appropriate rate in early childhood and they are often slow in acquiring basic skills. They do mostly what ‘normal’ children do except it is louder, longer, more often and with greater impact.

The good news is that ADHD people are usually energetic, enthusiastic and creative; intuitive, sensitive and highly intelligent. Capturing these special attributes is a main goal of treatment.

Children with ADHD do not grow out of the condition as was once thought, and need to learn to adapt to their situations as they go through each stage of life.

For more information on ADHD check out our Links page or contact the Association.