What is an Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder (ADHD)?

What is ADHD and neurodiversity?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a childhood behavioural disorder, although some symptoms may continue into adult life.  Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (struggling to focus might walk off), hyperactivity (fidgety, ‘always on the go’) and impulsiveness (suddenly doing/saying something without considering consequences).  Symptoms must be present in 2 or more settings and not better explained by another disorder e.g. Autistic Spectrum disorder.  Some children may present with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity but be below the threshold for diagnosis.   Symptoms tend to be noticed at an early age but become more noticeable when the young person starts nursery or school.  ADHD affects on average 1:5 children globally.   ADHD is often diagnosed in childhood but sometimes in adolescence or later. 

ADHD Traits that young people have described to us (ADHD Nurses)

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hyperfocus – concentrating so hard it’s difficult to break away
  • Hyperactivity – sometimes physical and sometimes thoughts (busy head)
  • Rejection sensitivity – instructions can be received as criticism, needing to be liked, rejection can feel extra hard for those with ADHD
  • Disorganisation – losing things, forgetting appointments or homework, or what was just said to them
  • Interrupting – ADHD brains work so fast the person often speaks before you’ve finished – this isn’t deliberate rudeness – it’s speedy runaway brain
  • Being good in a crisis – those with ADHD are often good under pressure, if someone needs help, or quick decisions need to be made
  • Good at seeing things others miss – in problem solving those with ADHD are able to consider many scenarios etc all at once. Many entrepreneurs have ADHD because of their creative and systemic thinking.
  • Dislike unfairness – to them and those around them. This could be because ADHD traits are often confused with bad behaviour, those with ADHD get told off a lot because of their traits. They feel the unfairness of this and are able to empathise with others in unfair situations as they may have had a lot of experience of unfairness. People with ADHD will stick up for people who are being treated unfairly.
  • Creativity – art, music, problem solving, filming, photography – ADHD brains are often creative. There are many examples of famous artists/musicians that have been diagnosed with ADHD.