ADHD: The Basics


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): we seem to hear a lot about this disorder, but what does it really mean to have ADHD?  ADHD is a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors.  Again what does that mean? Don’t we all have difficulties paying attention or sitting still at one point?  Yes! A couple of temper tantrums, a child who refuses to do what you say, or someone who constantly bounces their leg or fidgets does not necessarily warrant an ADHD diagnosis.  Someone with ADHD may have a pattern of trouble making behaviors, lack of focus, always in motion, messy, poor peer/sibling relationships, and/or aggression that has lasted at least 6 months or more.  And these aren’t even all the characteristics of ADHD.  Every individual is different therefore every case of ADHD will be unique.

What Causes ADHD?

No one knows for sure what causes ADHD but we do know it is not caused by poor parenting, vaccinations, traumatic life events, food additives, excess sugar, video and television.  There is a great deal of evidence that ADHD runs in families, which suggests that there is a genetic factor.  

Diagnosing ADHD

ADHD can be diagnosed by a licensed healthcare professional through an extensive interview, behavior and symptoms rating skills, third party observations, and obtaining a comprehensive history.  Neuropsychological and psychological testing can have many benefits, although it is not necessary for a diagnosis.

What to look for

There are three subtypes for ADHD; inattentive, hyperactive, or combined.

 Individuals with this diagnosis are not always hyperactive. They may sit quietly and look like they are daydreaming. Symptoms of inattentive ADHD include a pattern of making careless mistakes, not being able to focus, not seeming to listen, having difficulty understanding information as quickly as other children, and finding it hard to be organized.

Individuals with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD tend to fit the more stereotypical image of ADHD.  Symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD include a pattern of being restless with a frequent urge to run around, being impatient or fidgety, being unable to stay seated when appropriate, talking nonstop, having difficulty waiting their turn, interrupting frequently, and lacking some social skills.

Individuals with combined type of ADHD usually show a mixture of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms listed above.


You cannot cure ADHD with harsher parenting approaches, criticism, and/or physical punishment. Treating ADHD often requires medical, educational, behavioral, and psychological intervention. Depending on the individual, treatment for ADHD may include: parent training, medication, skills training, behavioral therapy, educational supports, and psychoeducation.

ADHD can be overwhelming and exhausting, but it is treatable. With the right treatment individuals with this diagnosis can learn to better manage their attention, behavior, time, and emotions. If you want to talk more about how we can help, please contact us today.