ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is perhaps one of the most misunderstood diagnoses one can receive. Even identifying the signs of ADHD in yourself or your child can be challenging. Here, we provide some clarity and explore how to know if you have ADHD and how to seek an ADHD diagnosis.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental condition. It is known to impact the way in which people behave and how information is processed.
There are two subtypes of ADHD: the impulsive and hyperactive type and the inattentive and distractible type. These can be found in combination with one another, creating combined type ADHD.
What causes ADHD?
A concrete cause of ADHD is not fully understood at this point, although it is thought to arise from a mix of factors. ADHD is generally considered to be a genetic condition, which can run in families. You are born with ADHD, rather than it being caused by environmental stimuli.
A common misconception is that certain foods cause ADHD, while they in fact only exacerbate outward signs (such as consuming a large amount of sugar or caffeine increasing restlessness).
Common signs of ADHD
Signs of ADHD can be similar in all age groups and genders, with some notable differences.
For example, popularly held beliefs around ADHD are caused by the portrayal of an ADHD child who is impulsive, extremely high energy, loud, and restless. Some also believe that boys are more likely to have ADHD than girls. While the ‘classic’ signs of ADHD can be present, they are mainly found in the impulsive or hyperactive type.
Signs of inattentive ADHD can be harder to detect, such as poor time management, difficulty focusing, issues with multitasking and planning, or simply daydreaming a lot. You may also experience hyperfocus, or obsessively focusing on one task for long periods of time without breaks.
Do children grow out of ADHD?
ADHD used to be thought of as something that children grew out of. In actuality, ADHD is a lifelong condition that does not go away with adulthood.
Many adults with undiagnosed ADHD will learn to mask the more outwardly obvious signs – physical hyperactivity may instead be internal, such as jumping from thought to thought. It is also worth noting that children who are not diagnosed may exhibit more signs of ADHD as they grow up and are no longer in a familiar and structured environment.
Due to this, ADHD assessments are available for both adults and children.
How to get tested for ADHD
Pursuing an ADHD diagnosis can be extremely beneficial for learning how to manage the symptoms that could be impacting your life, or your child’s life.
A good place to start is by discussing your concerns with your GP. As ADHD is diagnosed through observing behaviour, you will have a good grasp on what signs you have seen or experienced. Your GP is then likely to refer you to a qualified psychologist or child psychologist who is able to accurately assess for ADHD.
You can also self-refer to some providers. A psychologist will then proceed with a diagnostic questionnaire and cognitive assessment to reach a conclusion.
Receiving an ADHD diagnosis can be essential and transform your life for the better. If you wish to pursue ADHD diagnosis for your child, then make sure to contact Stepping Stones in Life Therapy in Darwin to discuss this further. Our trained child psychologist can diagnose ADHD and set you on a path towards better accommodations and greater understanding.