What is ADHD?

Posted by Sara Van Schyndel on

What is ADHD with child working behind 

October is ADHD recognition month, the perfect time to highlight what it is and bring some awareness to the topic!


What is ADHD? 

ADHD, its long form:  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD as per the DSM 5 is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”

At some point in your life you have heard about or maybe even encountered someone with ADHD, you may not have known it at the time (or they may not have known it).

It could have been the child in your class that couldn’t sit still, or shouted out answers. It could be someone at your office who has the nickname the “machine” because they are closing deals left right and center and have their hand in a bit of everything or it could be the mom at the school who is on every committee, at every bakesale, soccer practice etc and you wonder when she sleeps?

ADHD is often known for the way it is portrayed in movies, or on tv. The stereotypical “bad boy” who is always getting into trouble at school and home. But ADHD us much more than that… ADHD can be a gift if the individual chooses to learn about it and embrace the strengths it can provide. 


Diagnosis Process:

  1. Seek medical advice - often the first step is to reach out to your family doctor and they will get the ball rolling. 
  2. The doctor will often ask you losts questions, have you fill out a questionnaire, or take one home. Depending on the age of the child they will often send a similar questionnaire to the school for your children's teacher to fill out as well.
  3. Next the Doctor will score the questionnaires and come out with a diagnosis. If the questionnaire is not clear one way or another you may be referred to a specialist, such as a developmental pediatrician, psychologist etc 
  4. Once you have received a diagnosis, your doctor will discuss  treatment offers with you. 

There are three types of ADHD

Predominantly Inattentive -  People who are diagnosed with being predominantly inattentive can also exhibit signs of hyperactivity or impulsiveness but they most often exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Are easily distracted and have difficulty picking up on details
  • Become bored quickly/easily
  • Find it difficult to focus on only one task at a time
  • Experience difficulty in learning new information and organizing their thoughts
  • Often misplace/lose items required to complete tasks  ie: pencil, paper, erasers 
  • Appear to not be listening
  • Often appear as if they are daydreaming, physically move slowly
  • Process information more slowly and less accurately than others
  • Present with difficulty following directions

**Girls are more often diagnosed with the Inattentive Type**

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type : Those who are diagnosed with this type are more likely to be Hyperactive and Impulsive but can also exhibit signs of the Inattentive type.

The most common symptoms for Hyperactive- Impulsive Combined Type are as follows:

  • Often appear as they are squirming, restless or fidget frequently
  • Appear to be unable to sit still
  • Often referred to as “chatty” as they are always talking
  • Constantly touching/playing with objects that are not related to the task they are working on
  • Find it difficult to engage in quiet activities
  • Referred to as “on the go”, constantly moving
  • Often are impatient
  • Do not worry about consequences for their actions, and often act out of turn
  • Make inappropriate comments and blurt out answers 

Children who present with hyperactive impulsive types are often seen as a disruption in the classroom and can make learning difficult for themselves and those around them.

Combined Type: When someone is diagnosed with combined type, it means that they don’t fall under a specific category but they exhibit signs and symptoms from both of the categories. 

The majority of the world’s population will exhibit some signs of inattentive or impulsive behaviours. However in those with ADHD the symptoms will be more severe. The inattentiveness and impulsiveness will impact their daily lives, how they function day to day at home, work, school or socially. 

Treatment Options: Below are some options for ADHD treatment, this is not an exhaustive list and it is in no particular order.

  • Therapy 
    • Behaviour Therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
    • Art Therapy 
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Social Skills 
    • Executive Functioning
  • Medication
    • Stimulants
    • Non Stimulants

    Often the letters ADHD come with a sense of fear or dread. In the medical community it is often known that once you receive the diagnosis of ADHD it will never be removed. Some doctors are even hesitant to diagnose it, thus resulting in long wait times with specialists. Regardless of the stigma around ADHD, if you or someone you know suspects they may have ADHD we encourage you to seek out medical intervention to help diagnose the symptoms you are exhibiting. You never know, it could change your life and provide you with answers to all of your questions.