ADHD is a complex neurological disorder that has a pervasive impact across areas of a person’s life. People with ADHD have been found to have differences in how their brain functions, including as how it uses energy and maintains levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals that pass information from brain cell to brain cell). Individuals with ADHD tend to struggle in ‘core’ areas, including: sustaining attention, ignoring distractions, working memory, processing speed, organization, and working strategically.
ADHD can take three major forms, including:
- Inattentive Type ADHD (people who struggle most with focusing and ignoring distractions)
- Hyperactive Type ADHD (people who struggle with boredom, the need to move their bodies, and self-control)
- Combined Type of ADHD, where inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms are present.
Recognizing Symptoms of ADHD, The ‘Red Flags’
Unless a person has been hyperactive from early childhood, teachers are often the first to recognize the symptoms of ADHD. Teachers may describe Hyperactive ADHD symptoms in terms of complaints about the child’s impulsive behavior, disorganization, or careless work habits. Inattentive type ADHD is often first recognized when a teacher complains of the student daydreaming and not completing work. It is essential to determine if these problems are actually ADHD, and if there is a co-occurring learning disability or emotional problem as well. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at our Northern Virginia office to discuss options.
- Hyperactivity, restlessness, impulsivity
- Trouble sustaining attention to tedious or uninteresting tasks
- Underachievement in school and work
- Trouble with organization and time management
- Overly passive, slow to process information and react
- Knowing what to do, but not being able to act on that knowledge
Given this pattern of chronic underachievement, and the daily struggle to meet expectations designed for those without learning difficulties, people with ADHD are at higher-risk for emotional and behavior problems. People with ADHD often have poor self-concept, and are vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Adolescents and adults with ADHD often have difficulties linked to their years of frustration, and may be at higher risk for dropping out of college, substance abuse, and employment problems. Early intervention and support for ADHD are key to managing this disability.
Support Services: What do you do?
The best way to understand if the problems you have recognized are actually ADHD is to have testing done by a licensed psychologist or developmental pediatrician. It is not enough to rely on screening questionnaires or checklists. There are many reasons why a person can have symptoms that might look like ADHD. Anxiety disorders, sleep problems, low/high intellectual ability, depression, or language disabilities can all create similar problems as ADHD. It is essential to have the correct diagnosis in order to plan an effective treatment plan. Each person with ADHD is different. Some may need special education help, psychotherapy, coping help, or even medication. Without psychological testing, people with ADHD are unlikely to get the targeted support they need to unlock their potential. Our psychologists can also work with school professionals on-site to ensure that the child’s needs are being met in the classroom (e.g. designing positive behavioral interventions and supportive accommodations)