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ADHD: Just the Facts

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (known as ADHD) is a neurological condition.

ADHD affects people’s concentration, activity levels and impulsivity. ADHD often runs in families and is not linked to intelligence.

Just lately, there’s been a lot of videos on TikTok, and other social media platforms, about ADHD.  These usually share signs that you have ADHD which include things like daydreaming, impulsive spending, skin picking and being talkative.  Whilst these habits can be true for people with ADHD, it is often true of the whole population and not necessarily an indicator of neurodiversity.  It is important to recognise that ADHD is a condition that can have a significant impact on the person who has it and it is much more complicated to assess and will need to be formally diagnosed by a specialist clinician such as a Psychologist or Psychiatrist.

About 1 in 20 people have ADHD and this is often spotted in children before they turn 12.  Sometimes it is possible to be diagnosed in later life.  ADHD is pervasive – this mean that the symptoms will appear at both school and home and in other settings.  ADHD can be split into two types:

  • Inattentive (trouble concentrating and focussing)
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness (as if driven by a motor)

It is possible to have one type or a combination of the two types.

Symptoms of ADHD

Typical symptoms of inattentive ADHD include:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Making careless mistakes in school or college work
  • Not seeming to listen or take instructions on board
  • Forgetting or losing things regularly

Typical symptoms of hyperactive and impulsive ADHD include:

  • Being unable to sit still or constantly fidgeting
  • Interrupting conversations or excessive talking
  • Little sense of danger or excessive risk taking
  • Being unable to concentrate on tasks especially tedious or long tasks.

It is important to note that all young people are different and develop at different rates. There will be some teenagers and young people that are more active, less organised and more inattentive than others, however when this has a significant impact on day-to-day functioning and achievements, it may indicate something beyond what we would typically see in a young person’s development.  It is also useful to consider that other conditions including anxiety, depression or experience of trauma can have similar symptoms to ADHD.

Diagnosis and treatment

There is no one test for ADHD.  A specialist clinician will need to gather lots of information from you, your parents/carers and your school or college and possibly others to help them move towards a diagnostic outcome.  There may also need to take a QB test, a physical examination and a discussion around medical history. To be diagnosed, young people need to exhibit at least 6 of the symptoms of ADHD for at least 6 months and these symptoms make their lives considerably more difficult either on a social, academic or occupational level. These ‘symptoms’ must also not be explained by another condition or difficulty, i.e. Anxiety, Trauma or a learning difficulty.

Treatment can involve offering parental support training, therapy and medication or a combination of these depending on the needs of the young person.

Getting support

If you think that you might have ADHD, ask your parents and carers to speak to your school who might be able to provide extra support. If you still think you need to be referred for an assessment of ADHD, you and your family can talk to your GP.  Your GP may ask your parents/carers and your school to complete some questionnaires in order to progress the referral.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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