What is ADHD?

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DHD is a neurological disorder that affects many areas of life. It is directly linked to weaknesses in the brain’s executive functioning skills—the master controls for self-monitoring and self-regulating goal-directed and emotional behaviour.

In ADHD teens, weaknesses in these areas mean more emotional outbursts, disorganization, lost gloves and school bags, and forgetting homework at school.

In ADHD adults, this may look like unfinished projects, job losses, and financial difficulties.

For both children and adults, ADHD can create a “blindness to time”. (Russell Barkley Ph.D.) This can look like struggling to leave for school on time, being late for appointments, or getting lost in a task, unaware that hours have gone by. Rushing at the last minute, a hallmark of ADHD, is partly a result of not “feeling” the deadline approaching. Essentially, people with ADHD know what they need to do; they simply are not able to do it when they are expected to.

Importantly, ADHD is not a learning disability or an intellectual deficit, although it can cause significant academic failure and prevent adults from reaching their career potential.

Brain Chemistry = Brain Functioning

Research has shown that low levels of dopamine are associated with ADHD. This means that impulses to “stop” or “go” are delayed. Procrastinating, acting too quickly, or otherwise being out of sync with expectations are common side effects.

Low dopamine is also associated with low motivation. Students with ADHD will often say that feeling chronically unmotivated is very distressing to them. Adults will say that they just don’t feel like doing certain things, and although they want to clean their kitchen or pay their taxes on time, these things simply do not happen.

What Does ADHD Look Like in Adults?

  • Long history of difficulty focusing, getting started, and completing tasks on time.
  • Difficulties with time: getting to appointments on time, finishing on time, estimating accurately how much time is required to complete a task.
  • Disorganization in thoughts, papers, tasks.
  • Money management difficulties.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Being overly talkative or speaking over people.
  • Low frustration threshold.

Fast Facts About ADHD in Adults

  • About 4% of the adult population have ADHD (this is a conservative estimate).
  • About 40% of adults with ADHD also have a comorbid condition, e.g. anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.
  • Adult ADHD looks less hyperactive than childhood ADHD.
  • 86-98% of adults with ADHD have impaired executive functioning.
  • Characterized by academic and career failures; lower quality of life.

Fast Facts About ADHD in Children and Teens

  • The rate of school-aged children affected is 5-12%, or 1-3 students per class of 30. (CADDRA, the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance)
  • ADHD is more prevalent in boys than girls by a 3-1 ratio. Impulsivity and hyperactivity show up more in boys, so their symptoms tend to be noticed earlier than girls’.
  • Impulsivity in girls often looks like talking a lot—the “Chatty Cathy”. Their ADHD difficulties are often first interpreted by adults as anxiety and depression.
  • ADHD lasts a lifetime but symptoms may subside over time. Learning executive functioning skills improves outcomes.
  • Symptoms typically begin to show between ages 3-6 in boys and around 9-12 in girls.
  • Emotional maturity is delayed by 3 years compared to peers.
  • The cause is not yet understood .
  • 40% have at least one parent with ADHD.
  • 50% of those with ADHD will also have 2 other conditions such as anxiety, depression, or a learning disability.
  • Teens who do not receive treatment for ADHD are at a 4 times higher risk for addiction.

With the multiple symptoms and challenges faced by those who have ADHD, it would seem that achieving and living a successful life is unlikely—fortunately, that is not the case.

ADHD coaching has been proven to help both adults and teens.

Amy, Jeremy and Andrew are students who live with the challenges of ADHD.

ADHD adults Robert, Jared and Evelyne have each achieved remarkable progress and stability in their lives after coaching.

Read their stories, and see how coaching changed and improved their lives.