What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. An estimated one in 20 New Zealanders have ADHD, yet is poorly understood and frequently remains undiagnosed, causing distress in family, work and social situations.

Those with ADHD have many benefits and generally have normal intellect, however, they also have a characteristic group of symptoms which, if un-diagnosed, may lead to slower development in achievement and social skills.

There are three main subgroups of ADHD, so not everyone with ADHD will present with the same behaviours.

Easily distractedAlways movingActs without thinking
Short attention spanRestlessInterrupts people
Day dreamsFidgetsAccident prone
Makes silly mistakesCan't sit stillBlurts out answers / secrets
Often lateTrouble switching of / sleeping

Predominantly inattentive ADHD: Inattention is the main characteristic. 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. Inattentiveness 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.

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 occurs in all ethnic and socio-economic groups and often runs in families.

It was originally thought males were more likely to have ADHD than females but it is now believed the gender ratio is actually 1:1. Girls often present inattentive characteristics and therefore are more likely to be overlooked.

ADHD people are usually energetic, enthusiastic, creative, intuitive, sensitive and highly intelligent. Parents, teachers, youth leaders and others interacting or managing those with ADHD, who can capture and enhance these attributes will make positive impact.

Children with ADHD generally do what all children do except those with ADHD are louder, can do it for longer, more often and with greater impact. In addition, acquiring basic skills can take longer as having ADHD impacts the rate of maturity.

Children often take ADHD with them into adulthood and need to find support structures to help them adapt to their different situations and life stages.

For more information have a look at our ADHD FAQs, check out our Links page or contact us.