October is ADHD awareness month, and it’s brought to you by an international coalition of social and healthcare organizations for the purpose of spreading reliable information on ADHD. By debunking frustrating myths with fact-based information, ADHD Awareness Month hopes to support people across the globe in moving forward with ADHD.
There are currently 6 million children and 8 million adults across the United States living with ADHD, a disorder that can heavily impact their daily lives and the routines of those closest to them. While treatment methods have proven highly effective and resources are now becoming more abundant, now is the time to reflect and engage with the good work that is still left to be done.
With so many people living with ADHD, there is a good chance someone you know is affected. By becoming informed and spreading the word, you can help do your part during ADHD awareness month by supporting others in moving forward with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is one of the most common neurodivergent conditions, and it’s typically diagnosed at an early age through schools and health provider screening. While it is normal for young people to have trouble focusing from time to time, children with ADHD experience chronic challenges that can vary but often result in trouble socially, in school, and at home.
The three primary factors are inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, and different severity levels of each may present depending on the degree to which each appears. Common symptoms that indicate a child may need to be tested for ADHD include:
- Daydreaming a lot
- Forgetting or losing things
- Squirming or fidgeting more than other kids
- Talking more than other kids
- Making careless mistakes
- Taking unnecessary risks
- Finding it hard to resist temptation
- Having trouble taking turns
- Experiencing difficulty getting along with others
Many parents may read that list and think, “That describes every child!”, but children with ADHD experience these challenges with severity that is much more pronounced than for others. One of the key factors of ADHD is an inability to choose what to focus on, which makes it extremely difficult to regulate behavior in developmentally appropriate ways. Combined with hyperactivity, these symptoms become a significant obstacle for many aspects of a child’s life.
Understanding the Different Types of ADHD
There are three different types of ADHD, and they are categorized by the relative predominance of the three primary characteristics:
Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Includes difficulty organizing or finishing a task, paying attention to details, following conversations, or following instructions.
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Characterized by fidgeting and talking a lot. These individuals find it hard to sit still for long, feel restless, and have trouble with impulsivity. Impulsiveness can put a person at risk for more accidents and injuries.
Combined Presentation: A combination of the above-described types.
Challenges for Girls and ADHD Diagnosis
ADHD is diagnosed in boys at over twice the rate of girls, but there is increasing evidence that this has a lot to do with how symptoms present. For reasons that are still being researched, young girls tend towards inattentive subtypes, and may not exhibit a “classic” ADHD profile. Girls still suffer from attention challenges and may miss important social cues and school assignments, but because symptoms trend towards daydreaming and fidgeting the root cause of the issues may go unnoticed by teachers and family members.
Understanding how to identify ADHD in girls requires social workers, healthcare professionals, educators, and relatives to have a gender-specific understanding of ADHD symptoms. Courses like ADHD in Focus - Spotlight on ADHD in Girls help us recalibrate to bring awareness to an equally vulnerable segment of the population.
In the past, ADHD has not been well understood, and children often slipped through the cracks and into adulthood without being diagnosed. With increasing awareness and treatment options becoming more prevalent in mainstream culture, many people are finally being diagnosed as adults.
Identification and testing for adults is broadly similar to the criteria used for childhood diagnosis, and new advances in treatment are offering people definitive answers to the lingering questions they’ve had about why certain activities are more challenging for them than they seem for everyone else. If you or a loved one is exhibiting symptoms of ADHD, consider getting an evaluation by a trusted healthcare professional.
What Causes ADHD?
The exact causes and risk factors for ADHD are still unknown and there is a lot of research to be done. Genetics is certainly thought to play a role, and the fact that ADHD has been strongly associated with other disorders like depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, tourettes, and autism offer promising avenues of study.
In addition to these connections, scientists are actively looking into the relationship between ADHD and the following:
- Brain injury
- Environmental exposure during pregnancy or at a young age
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
How to Manage ADHD
ADHD is often treated well with a combination of behavior therapy and medication. For children aged 4-5 years old, behavior therapy and training for parents is recommended as the first line of treatment before medication.
Also, health and wellness is a state that is influenced by numerous factors above and beyond our physiology, and lifestyle changes can have a significant effect on ADHD symptoms. Many people with ADHD benefit from practicing healthy behaviors such as:
- Good eating habits that include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Participating in daily physical activity
- Limiting daily screen time
- Sleeping well
How to Show Support
There are many ways to show your support for ADHD this October, and with a little effort and advocacy in one of the following areas you can make a big difference in shaping a better world for people with ADHD.
- Educate yourself: Step one is becoming informed so you can help squash the myths and spread the truth. Little moments can make a big difference!
- Connect with Resources: The National ADHD Awareness Month site has many resources highlighting their efforts in collaboration.
- Make Yourself Heard: Using platforms like social media is important for spreading awareness of the challenges of ADHD.
- Attend an Event: Workshops, support groups, and fundraisers, all help bring people together in support of the common cause.
- Donate to ADHD organizations: Every little bit helps for continuing ADHD advocacy, research, and support.
Help Others in Moving Forward with ADHD, Make Sure Everyone Knows It’s ADHD Awareness Month!
Education is at the core of every movement to create increased awareness of critical health issues, and healthcare professionals and social workers are an important front line of defense for screening, diagnosing, and supporting people of all ages with ADHD. However, because it’s a rapidly-evolving field, new information is coming out every day, and continuing education is vital for keeping yourself in the loop and providing the best care possible for your patients.
Premiere is dedicated to creating courses like ADHD in Focus - Spotlight on ADHD in Girls that will help you establish crucial knowledge applicable to your practice that can make an immediate difference in the lives of others. No matter your field, Premiere is committed to creating high-quality continuing education that supports the most important ongoing and developing health, safety, and best practices issues.
All content by Premiere is developed by leading industry experts, ADHD in Focus - Spotlight on ADHD in Girls was created by Megan Arbour Ph.D., RN, CNM, CNE, and Jenna Lapointe LCSW.