I started ADHD&U when I was finishing my memoir, Raising Will. My son, who has ADHD, had just left for college and I had time to reflect on the next chapter in my life. I have worked as a child psychologist for many years. I’ve loved my profession. But with ADHD on the rise, I realized it was time for me to get out there and share what I know on a more personal level.
I decided to write this book over a decade ago. I was new to Minnesota and needed help with my son's ADHD and newly adopted daughter. My husband, Bill, listened as well as any good Lutheran, but I needed more than he could offer. Way more.
ADHD is short for Attention – Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. People who have ADHD have difficulty paying attention and concentrating. Also, their behavior can be more impulsive than usual. They are restless too, especially during youth.
ADHD is not a disorder that only affects children. Since ADHD is a neurobehavioral condition, there is no cure, and the majority do not outgrow it. Approximately two-thirds of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms in adulthood that require treatment. There are different subtypes of ADHD (inattentive, hyperactive, and combined type). As with anything, no two people with ADHD are the same. Some researchers have suggested that ADHD is more prevalent in men. However, we are learning that this is likely not the case. ADHD in women is under-diagnosed and under-treated compared to men, especially in those who do not demonstrate hyperactivity and behavior problems.
Most likely you have given the rise in ADHD over the last few years. That's why the general public needs to know more about how ADHD affects people. Many know that ADHD can make it hard for people to concentrate and sit still. However, many times, people unknowingly make judgments about people without understanding the big picture. This is stressful and isolating for parents. Children with ADHD often struggle to respect personal space, to wait their turn, to cope with frustration, to stand in line, to stop talking and to slow down.
The next time you notice these behavioral symptoms in boys, girls, relatives, colleagues, and employees, don’t be quick to judge. Instead, try to learn more about ADHD and how you can be supportive. For example, time management is hard for people with ADHD. That’s why clear, consistent routines are so helpful for kids with ADHD. They may resist these routines (you can count on it!), but without your extra guidance, structure and support, reaching goals can be super tough for kids with ADHD. Try to be patient, seek guidance from specialists, and GIVE GENUINE PRAISE! Follow this formula: for every critique, give five compliments.
The truth is that ADHD is much more complicated than it seems. I gained much of my experience with this condition as a mother. I learned first-hand how hard it was to raise a child who struggled to sleep, eat healthy foods, stay seated, and control his impulses. I wanted to encourage his free spirit and natural curiosity, yet help him fit in with society.
I am naturally drawn to kids with ADHD, as they are so often open-minded, creative, spirited, and independent. These are admirable qualities I like to nurture 🙂
Because if ADHD symptoms are not treated, those impacted tend to underachieve. Children and adolescents with ADHD are at higher risk for depression and anxiety, substance abuse, and ongoing learning and social problems than most. High school graduation rates are much lower in teenagers with untreated ADHD than their peers.
Like most medical conditions, ADHD is complicated. There are many genetic and environmental risk-factors that are being studied. So far, scientists have found that there are a few probable causes. A big one is genetics, since ADHD often runs in families. Exposure to lead or pesticides in early childhood, premature birth or low birth weight, and brain injury are other possible causes that have been linked to higher rates of ADHD in children.
Researchers have found that the prevalence of ADHD in children and adolescents in the United States has increased from about 6 percent in 1997 to around 11 percent in 2016. Some populations have seen larger increases in ADHD than others, like kids from the Midwest and low-income families. Diagnoses in girls have doubled, too, although it is still much lower than in boys.
Researchers are not sure. One theory is that rates have increased because clinicians, parents and teachers are more aware of the signs of ADHD in children and seek help more.
Others believe that the changes in diagnostic criteria with the new DSM-5 have contributed to higher rates of ADHD diagnoses. For example, in the DSM-IV, children had to exhibit symptoms of ADHD before age 7 to receive a diagnosis of ADHD. However, for some groups, like adolescents with the inattentive type of ADHD, they may not have showed noticeable signs of inattention until later when the demands in school and other settings increased.