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Understanding ADHD

Many consider Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to be a kind of learning disability. It actually is a behaviour disorder and does not fall under the learning disability (LDs) umbrella. However, like LDs, ADHD has the ability of impacting a person's performance in school, at work and in their everyday lives, which is why the two are constantly linked. There are many misconceptions about people with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and many have a false idea of what it is and is not. Let’s take some time to understand what Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common behaviour disorder that exists in both children and adults. It's distinguished by consistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness that interferes with the person’s social functions and development.

This may be that student in the classroom who has a hard time sitting still in their seat, whose notes are constantly disorganized, or is frequently forgetting their homework at home or at school. (Mom and Dad does this sound familiar?) Or, in adults this may be someone you work with who is frequently forgetting about appointments or missing details on tasks. If you live with a person who has ADHD you may know when they were in the kitchen last because the drawers and cupboards are frequently left open. Does this person seem familiar to you?

Scientists are still trying to figure out how ADHD is caused exactly, but what we know for sure is that it's a disorder that is genetic and can be passed down from parent to child. ADHD is often misdiagnosed because many of the signs mimic typical child behaviour. And while boys are more frequently diagnosed girls can be diagnosed with ADHD as well.

An individual with ADHD displays one or more of the following symptoms:

Hyperactivity: The constant need to move or fidget. It may seem like the person always has extra energy like always tapping their fingers, fidgeting in their seat or talking constantly. In adults, it can appear as extreme restlessness or tiring others out with their constant activity.

Inattention: Trouble staying focused on a task, consistently day dreaming, mind wandering or extreme disorganization.

Impulsivity: Acting in the moment without thinking. In some cases these actions can put the person at a high risk of harm,. Other things are the need for an immediate reward, or the inability to delay gratification.

Okay, who has not daydreamed in class from time to time or said something in the moment they realized they shouldn't have after. The difference with individuals who have ADHD is that these behaviours occur more often, are more severe, and often interfere with their social function at school, at work, and even in relationships with people they love. Because the symptoms are constant some children may have a hard time building friendships, or for adults may have a hard time keeping relationships because others can become frustrated with their behaviour.

While ADHD impacts various aspects of a person’s daily activities it can greatly impact a student’s ability to learn. This is why it is common for students with ADHD to also have a LD or experience academic difficulties. So how can we help our friends with ADHD?

It is important to understand there is no one solution fits all when helping a person with ADHD. The key thing is to remember to be patient and kind with them. Some methods of helping individuals with ADHD consist of:

Medication: The majority of medication for individuals with ADHD is to reduce the hyperactivity and impulsivity tendencies while improving their ability to focus. This is most commonly done through the use of stimulants. It may seem counterproductive to use stimulant medication to help with hyperactivity and impulsivity system, however stimulants help to increase brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that play a vital role in thinking and attention. Other medical options consist of non-stimulants.

Behavioural Therapy: A form of psychotherapy is used that helps a person to change their behaviour. This can involve monitoring his or her behaviour and praising oneself for behaving in a favourable way.

Academically: Providing a quiet and tranquil environment to work is key. as it reduces the number of distractions and helps individuals to focus.

Nutrition and Exercise: Like many things in life, a healthy lifestyle goes a long way. For some individuals engaging in physical activity provides an outlet for excessive energy, giving them the ability to focus and concentrate on tasks. As well, it's been noted that reducing the intake of certain foods and maintaining a healthy proper diet (lots of fruits and veggies) helps with ADHD symptoms.

How to be a Great Support to Someone with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  1. Spread kindness – Both children and adults may experience frustration with their ADHD which can cause low self-esteem. By being kind, patient and encouraging to these individuals we can have a greater impact on their journey.

  2. Outline routines and schedules – For daily activities it helps (especially for children) to outline the daily routine and keep it in a spot where it can be easily viewed. For adults this can be done using old school paper and pen, or with technology like phones and smart watches. You can set notifications and reminders for key activities that occur daily. (key appointments and meetings) as well as colour coding notifications (ie. red = urgent matter at work, blue = family matter).

  3. Colour coded school materials – Colour is more visually appealing for students and colour coding helps them to organize school materials easily. This is especially helpful for the middle school and high school level when students rotate classes and teachers. One example is to colour code the student's timetable the same colour as the materials for the class, such as Math = Yellow, English = Orange, Science = Red.

Something Extra to Know

Individuals with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have some of the most extraordinary and creative minds. They have the ability to view problems from an entirely different perspective from the average person, frequently creating new and innovative solutions. That's why It's no wonder that some of the most admired and successful entrepreneurs and business people today are individuals who have ADHD.

There are #NoLearningLimits for those with ADHD. Their mind has the capacity of achieving success just like everyone else. Let us know. if you need help supporting someone you know with ADHD. Our mission is to Navigate You To Success!

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