Understanding ADHD: Debunking Common Myths and Providing Solutions for Children and Adults
ADHD seems to be affecting more and more people, both in childhood and adulthood. The attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is taking up a large portion of the debate, with different positions on the increase in diagnoses and their relationship with the new way of living in society. Properly addressed, ADHD creates a lot of concern, especially for parents of children who are or may be affected.
On the one hand, the noise has led to greater awareness of the phenomenon, but on the other hand, it has also created a lot of confusion - with the creation of real commonplaces that harm children in the first person. This is why it is necessary to clarify what ADHD is and how it can be addressed. This is important for all categories: those who suffer from it will be able to become aware of their own means and live with less unjustified guilt; parents and teachers will be able to offer a personalized educational experience that is suitable for the specific needs of minors.
In this article we will see:
Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is "characterized by short or poor attention span and/or excessive liveliness and impulsivity [...] that interfere with functionality or development" (MSD Manuals); it can therefore manifest in different forms. Specifically, symptoms may involve:
- Attention deficit;
- Liveliness and impulsivity;
- A mix of both elements.
Despite its symptoms resembling a behavioral disorder, it is a neurodevelopmental disorder - which also falls under the same group of BES disorders. In simpler terms, ADHD belongs to the same group of other disorders that manifest from childhood, such as intellectual disabilities, tic disorders, DSAs, and autism spectrum disorders. Precisely because it is characterized by a neurological conformation, ADHD is defined as a pediatric disorder; however, as you can read below, it can also receive a first diagnosis in adulthood.
The attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorder manifests before the age of seven through very specific symptoms that must be observed for a minimum period of six continuous months. To mention the main symptoms identified by the DSM ("Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders"), a child may suffer from ADHD if:
- Has difficulty starting concentration activities;
- Does not have listening skills;
- Is very lively;
- Easily loses concentration;
- Is impatient;
- Interrupts questions, answering as soon as he understands the meaning;
- Is impulsive and tends to act without thinking;
- Tends to lose things or forget commitments;
- Cannot plan study;
- Changes activities continuously, leaving previous ones pending.
A cultural shift or technological influence?
Recently, some studies have shown that ADHD diagnoses have increased. According to research conducted at the Kaiser Permanente Center, from 2001 to 2010, children who suffer from it have increased by 24%. Due to particularly tight and harmful word of mouth, these important data have been interpreted in the most disparate and distorted ways.
In particular, many have confused the increase in diagnoses with the increase in cases, forming conjectures on the influence of new technological means on the onset of ADHD. However, even simply following American scholars, it is understood that new diagnoses reflect more a cultural change than an actual expansion of the disorder itself.
Many children with ADHD today receive a diagnosis that in different times they would never have obtained. The current school system, more rigid, requires more framed behaviors and learning skills that often do not take into account the specificities of students. Behaviors that fall outside the system are thus recognized and framed more easily, while in the past they were simply interpreted as typical character traits of children. The masculine in this case is not accidental, because ADHD assumes specific characteristics regarding gender, which in turn have lent themselves to distortions.
Data on ADHD is particularly debated within the scientific community; despite all the debates, it would seem that between 8-11% of the school population suffers from it. Within this case, three out of four diagnoses concern males, leading many to believe that females may only suffer from it marginally or sporadically.
However, the most recent research would seem to refute this commonplace, often supported by experts as well. In particular, it seems that symptoms in women manifest themselves in different and less strong ways from a social point of view, ending up being underestimated. As for girls, attention disorders should be given more attention than hyperactivity.
The problem of missed diagnosis does not only concern the valorization of the child, but can also influence their entire educational path and even adult life. In the very recent years, many mental health experts have emphasized the need, therefore, to modify the conception of ADHD as a childhood disorder, in order to give the right centrality also to adults who suffer from it.
As reported by Dr. Hallowell, a correct diagnosis can "save a life" even if applied in late age. The challenge of redefinition represents an important objective, which could improve the lives not only of many women but also of many men who, for socio-cultural reasons, have not had ADHD recognized in their youth.
The importance of seeking professional diagnosis and valuing the individual
Although the symptoms of ADHD can also be recognized independently, the only reliable diagnosis is obtained from a professional. Whether you think you suffer from it yourself or recognize its manifestations in your children, a specialist consultation will prevent you from falling into the toxic vortex of self-diagnosis.
The attentions to be adopted will undoubtedly be greater in the case where such intervention is directed at a child. The educator's task is to understand as best as possible how to meet his or her particularities and how to value him or her. As reference figures, however difficult, you will have to set aside prejudices and negative attitudes, adopting a new set of ideas.
Aggressiveness and mockery will only worsen the probable frustrations related to learning difficulties. It will be essential that you try to inform yourself as best as possible, reorganizing ideas and overcoming the child's difficulties through organized activities and days with a as much as possible pre-established routine.
Children with ADHD require specific attention regarding their disorder, but this does not mean that they should be limited or considered only in relation to it. Always remember that a person with attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorder, adult or not, has his or her own personality and can live a full life thanks to the right therapies indicated by experts.
Article by Nina Komadina.