ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and describes the unique structure of your brain.
A significant number of New Zealanders have ADHD, and for those of you who do, have many positive characteristics which are experienced alongside some challenges.
Researchers who are passionate about ADHD have been helping to increase our knowledge and understanding of what makes ADHD unique. It's now clearly understood that the frontal lobe (prefrontal cortex to be specific) in the ADHD brain develops or mature at a slower rate. Generally, maturing is slowed by approximately three years in developing children and adolescents.
The frontal lobe is responsible for:
As the development of the frontal lobe is slower and less matured than "typical" development it means the "neurodevelopmental delay" to the prefrontal cortex makes automatically controlling and filtering attention, behaviours, emotions etc so much harder.
This means your ADHD brain has to work much harder to control aspects that come naturally to others the same age, and this is the nature of the "disordered" part.
It's also the reason why you experience significant fatigue by the end of the school or workday. This doesn't, by any means, make you less than your peers, however, but rather does make you different in terms of your developmental trajectory.
What are the different types of ADHD?
Under the general understanding/diagnosis of ADHD, individuals usually fit into one of three different "subtypes" or groups. This is because even with a diagnosis of ADHD, it's recognised that within ADHD everyone is different. However, there are commonalities that help to provide understanding of the more specific features of each type.
The ADHD subtypes are:
Predominantly Inattentive ADHD:
This subtype tends to be more prevalent in:
The main characteristics include an under control of attention, focus and concentration.
Some impulsivity, behavioural and emotional hyperactivity and executive dysfunction are often also experienced but to a much lesser degree.
Predominantly Hyperactive and Impulsive ADHD:
This is the most well-known subtype of ADHD as childhood hyperactivity (including inappropriately high activity levels such as running, climbing, moving around) is more obvious, as is impulsive actions - which can lead to trouble with authority and peers.
In adolescence and adults, as the brain matures, so too does the control level and the hyperactivity turns from major movement to more minor restlessness and fidgeting.
The main characteristics include an under control of behaviour, activity (hyperactivity is sped up activity levels that are not lessened appropriately in given situations), and acting on impulses without controlling these with thinking before acting.
Inattentiveness and executive dysfunction are often also present, though generally to a lesser extent.
The main characteristics include an under control of attention, behaviour, activity and impulses. They are all present in fairly equal measures.
The common areas affected and behaviours/symptoms of ADHD are:
Important facts about ADHD
Each of you will vary in the type, number, frequency and severity of your ADHD behaviour/symptoms. To determine if you, or someone you know, has ADHD and to get the best treatment, a specialist Paediatrician, Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist (but not an Educational Psychologist) assessment is needed. A list of healthcare professional providers can be found here.
ADHD is real
ADHD occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups
ADHD is not sexist
ADHD has nothing to do with your intelligence
You can mature out of your ADHD behaviour/symptoms
There's less stigma and more support for ADHD
Having ADHD also means that you have immense strengths
For more information have a look at our ADHD FAQs, find a healthcare professional, check out supporting organisations or contact us.
Photo by NDE