Is ADHD real and what exactly is it? Those are good questions because even the experts often disagree on what it is, who is affects, and what causes it.
Although the effects it has on a person’s life can be complicated and inconsistent, a simple explanation is that ADHD is a persistent pattern of hyperactivity/impulsivity and/or inattention that impacts one’s ability to function optimally. Another trait of ADHD has to do with challenges with executive functioning. This is the term used for the brain’s ability to manage tasks of everyday life, such as planning, sequencing, organizing, and managing time. These difficulties can affect every area of a person’s life including social relationships, school, work and home.
ADHD is a neurobiological difference that starts in childhood. It is because of brain chemistry and is a “no fault” disorder. Parents may look back at their own lives when their children are diagnosed and realize they struggled in school in many of the same ways, but overcompensated or found other ways to get through their education. And, as adults, they may still struggle with many of the same issues as they take on different tasks and responsibilities.
ADHD traits or symptoms can evolve and change in adulthood. For example, a hyperactive child who can’t sit still may become an adult who is very talkative or jumps from one idea to another. Some of the keys to living successfully with ADHD in adults are:
- Learn as much as you can about ADD/ADHD and how it affects you
- Work on recognizing and changing self-blame because it is not your fault. This means forgiveness and self-acceptance. (Easier said than done!)
- Learn new ways of doing things that fit more for who you are and how your brain functions
- Recognize that stress can worsen ADHD traits and try to do whatever you can to reduce it.
- Realize that you have strengths as well as challenges and do whatever you can to focus on your gifts and allow yourself to express them as often as possible.