This *Might* Be The Reason Why You Can’t Seem To Focus

Everything you need to know about Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
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When you hear about someone who has Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, an image of a distracted kid probably comes to mind. But it’s so much more than that. For one thing, people who have ADHD aren’t always diagnosed during childhood; Symptoms could manifest in your 20s. consulted The Therapy Room to learn more about ADHD.

What exactly is ADHD?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition (DSM-5), ADHD is “a disorder wherein there is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with or reduces the quality of social, academic, or occupational functioning.”

Here’s the breakdown:

Inattention – It’s harder for people with ADHD to complete certain tasks and ignore distractions.

Hyperactivity – It’s an increase in an activity which persists more than usual and impacts functioning.

Impulsivity – This is the inability to control compulsion or recognize delayed gratification.

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What causes ADHD?

The cause of ADHD is unknown, but it could be linked to genetics. Many children diagnosed with ADHD have some family history of the disorder, or at least of behaviors associated with ADHD.

What are some symptoms of ADHD?

Symptoms of inattention:

  • Often fails to give close attention to detail or makes mistakes
  • Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or activities
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork or workplace duties
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities, is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity:

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands and feet, or squirms in seat
  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
  • Often runs and climbs in situations where it is inappropriate
  • Often unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly
  • Is often “on the go”—acting as if “driven by a motor”
  • Often talks excessively
  • Often blurts out answers before a question has been completed
  • Often has difficulty waiting for their turn 
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others

Do the symptoms differ for kids and adults?

Yes. The symptoms look different as you mature. For example, running and climbing during inappropriate situations would be present in children but would probably not be demonstrated by adults. Instead, the adult would appear to be restless. A child would wander around the classroom while an adult would regularly switch jobs because of boredom. A child would blurt out an answer during class, and an adult would speak without thinking about other people’s feelings.

What are some common treatments for ADHD?

An Occupational Therapist (OT) would help address work behaviors and executive functioning. OTs evaluate and identify areas of concern. Once concerns are identified, OTs design a program that would work on the person’s attention span, concentration, frustration tolerance, and impulse control.  They also provide drills on improving time management, organization of tasks, and planning. They also explore possible ways to manage stress when one experiences anxiety brought by his or her difficulty to accomplish a goal. Environment modification can also be recommended in order to improve goal-directed persistence.

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If there are difficulties in speech and language skills (articulation, fluency, semantics, syntax, morphology, phonology, narratives, or higher language skills such as problem solving and drawing out conclusions) or social communication skills, consult a Speech-Language Pathologist.

What kind of lifestyle changes should an adult who’s been diagnosed with ADHD make, if any?

An adult with ADHD would have to learn strategies to cope with the characteristics of the condition. Examples of helpful, daily strategies include, setting schedules, following routines, allotting time for physical activities, avoiding noisy environments, relaxing, and creating lists to help with forgetfulness.  

What are misconceptions some people have about those with ADHD?

That they are tamad or “kulang sa pansin.” It’s not a matter of desire. The disorder hinders the individual from finishing a certain task or showing an expected behavior. 

Some people believe that ADHD is not a real medical condition. There are even those who think children with ADHD will just “grow out of it” or that ADHD is simply a result of bad parenting. Some may also think that the hyperactivity and/or inattention that a person shows can easily be changed if the he or she decides to do so. While motivation to improve cannot be discounted, ADHD is definitely a medical condition and should be treated with medical attention from professionals such as doctors and therapists.

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How can a loved one support someone who has ADHD?

Family and friends have to be educated first on what ADHD really is to better understand their loved one. Parents and family members may also join a support group; we recommend the AD/HD Society of the Philippines. This can help advocate and empower the individual and their families. People with ADHD need support from their family in order to implement or carry over strategies at home. Strategies like keeping instructions brief and specific as well as providing written information to serve as reminders may work to alleviate inattention. Opportunities for physical activities or movement breaks may also help with hyperactivity. These accommodations are given not to encourage dependence on assistance but to gradually help them become independent and functional. In the end, we want persons with ADHD to make use of strategies to independently and actively participate in the society.

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Source: ADHD Institute

Special thanks to Johanna Joy Gomez, CSP-PASP (Speech-Language Pathologist), Maria Evangelette Torres, OTRP (Occupational Therapist), Samantha Sandra Lim, CSP-PASP (Speech-Language Pathologist), and The Therapy Room

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