The Many Faces of ADHD

Simply understanding Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a disorder of inattention and/or hyperactivity is not enough.  While on internship in Chicago (2009), my very-insightful supervisor, Dr. Gene Carroccia, helped me to better understand this complex disorder.  The following are just a few important aspects of the brain-functioning condition called ADHD:

ADHD is a motivation or boredom disorder.  People with ADHD are usually not motivated to do things except what they are interested in at the moment.  If they are interested in something then they can do it for long periods.  This is confusing for parents and teachers because they will see the ADHD person persisting with things they like, but then struggling with chores, following rules, and homework.  Dr. Carroccia explains that ADHD people often appear as lazy, selfish, insensitive, and self-centered because they pay more attention to things that are new, highly stimulating, or interesting, and struggle with things that are routine, ordinary, boring, or tedious (such as schoolwork, chores, lectures).

ADHD is an organization disorder.  ADHD people often are quite messy and disorganized.  Dr. Carroccia posits that, most people with normal brains take for granted their ability to be organized and follow steps to complete everyday tasks, like cleaning a room, doing homework, or doing a project.  They have trouble starting a project or activity, remaining focused, and persisting in the small tasks in order to complete the entire task.  Because of this problem, ADHD people are notorious procrastinators and will also struggle to maintain things in neat or orderly ways.

ADHD is a frustration disorder.  People with ADHD can appear angry, but it is often really frustration.  ADHD people often have frustration tolerance problems, meaning they do not tolerate frustration as well as others their age.  When things don’t go their way or when they are told to do things they do not want to do, they can become frustrated.  When frustrated they can have temper tantrums or outbursts where they yell, cry, scream, or say mean things.

ADHD is a self-control disorder.  Because some ADHD people have impulsivity, they have a harder time controlling their actions.  They do and say things without thinking about the consequences of their behaviors, and this can cause them to be rude and get into trouble.  They have serious self-control problems, and struggle with the ability to stop, think, inhibit, plan, and then act, as well as to continue doing things while other distracting things are occurring.

ADHD is a time-disorder.  They often have time management problems due to having difficulties with planning ahead and anticipating negative outcomes from their behavior.  They lose track of time more easily and are often late for things.

ADHD is not a common sense condition and may appear strange to parents, teachers, spouses, and co-workers who have not been educated about ADHD.  For more information on this disorder or to schedule a psychological evaluation to help identify if ADHD is present in your child, spouse, or you, contact Fresh Start today!

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