Sunday, March 22, 2020


Symptoms, causes, and diagnosis of ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD - Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - cause impairment in functioning. Those with the disorder experience, among other challenges, difficulty with: regulating emotions, organizing and planning, working memory, time management, staying on task, inhibition, and the ability to sense and appreciate the needs and situations of others.

The causes of ADHD are still unknown, but what we do know is that it can run in families. Prenatal factors, such as the mother's stress levels, nutrition, and exposure to toxins, may be potential causes. There is no evidence that parenting practices or teacher practices cause the disorder, but they can certainly impact impairment for either better or worse.

Currently, there are no medical / laboratory tests available that can diagnose ADHD. It is usually diagnosed by a licensed psychologist after meeting specific criteria.

Criteria for diagnosis 

As previously stated, ADHD is usually diagnosed by a licensed psychologist. The required criteria for diagnosis are a minimum six months of displaying symptoms, along with a minimum of two different settings where those symptoms are being displayed (like home and school, for example).

ADHD's relationship to other disorders and how it affects children

Approximately 11% of school-aged children have ADHD. It is said to be the most common neurodevelopmental disorder affecting children. Indeed, it accounts for 1/3 to 1/2 of all referrals to psychologists. Many children who have ADHD experience strong emotional reactions to any sort of provocation.

Additionally, many with ADHD have other disorders, as well. These may include, in no particular order:
  • anxiety disorders
  • conduct disorder (CD)
  • specific learning disorders
  • oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • language disorders
  • Depression and/or other mood disorders
  • Tourette syndrome (TS)
Different for boys and girls 

It is thought that, sadly, girls tend to be underdiagnosed because they usually do not display the overt hyperactivity component as much. Whereas boys tend to show the hyperactive/behavioral piece, making their symptoms easier to spot, girls are struggling quietly with the inattentive/inability to focus part. 

How ADHD relates to special education

Regardless if a student is taking medication, interventions in the school environment are, more often than not, needed.

Since 1991, ADHD is classified as Other Health Impaired (OHI), which allows children to qualify for special education services. Before 1991, a diagnosis of ADHD, alone, did not suffice for special education services. Some 60% of students who are receiving special education services in the categories of either Other Health Impaired (OHI) or Emotional Disturbance (ED) meet the criteria for ADHD.

The two most relevant laws benefiting children with ADHD are the 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004.

Continues into adulthood

There's a misconception out there that children with ADHD will simply "outgrow" the disorder in adulthood. The simple truth is that ADHD carries into adulthood. It is a chronic condition through life, and that's why early diagnosis, intervention, and good management of symptoms are vital for success. We are finding that adults with ADHD tend to have higher rates of car accidents, difficulties with relationships of all kinds, employment challenges, substance abuse, unstable friendships and romantic relationships, and higher rates of divorce.

Further Reading and Additional Resources

Why ADHD in Girls Is Often Overlooked -

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) -

ADHD Health Center -

No comments:

Post a Comment