ADHD, also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a complex disorder that can be difficult to manage for those living with it. If you are a parent who suspects your child might have ADHD, the parent of a recently diagnosed child or have been recently diagnosed yourself, a great place to start is by understanding what it can be like living with ADHD. The first step is to understand what it is and the kind of effect it can have on an individual's daily life.
The myths surrounding ADHD are many and varied. If you’re parenting a child with ADHD, chances are you’ve probably heard most of them already, such as the myth that ADHD is a result of bad parenting. Another one is that ADHD doesn’t exist because there have always been hyperactive and distracted children, or the belief that ADHD is over diagnosed, overmedicated and overused - just a label to excuse bad behaviour.
The reality is that ADHD is a complex diagnosis that requires a lot of understanding, patience and support. In this resource we explore the potential realities of living with ADHD, what it is and its typical symptoms, strategies for coping and managing ADHD, and additional resources for support.*
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition linked to chemical imbalances in the brain. These imbalances result in above-normal levels of inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive behaviours which seriously impact daily life, especially when it comes to learning.
Children with ADHD may have trouble focusing and finishing tasks (predominantly inattentive), display hyperactivity and struggle to contain their impulses (predominantly hyperactive-impulsive) or exhibit a combination of both types, which happens to be the most common form of ADHD.
ADHD can lead to increased difficulties with reading, motor performance, emotional regulation and social interaction. While usually diagnosed in children, it’s estimated that over 800,000 Australians live with ADHD, with 4.2% of children and 4% of adults under 45 meeting the diagnostic criteria for the condition.
Signs of ADHD
ADHD can present as predominantly hyperactive (impulsive) or predominantly inattentive, though individuals can present a combination of inattentive and hyperactive, or even present one over the other at different times.
- not being able to remain seated in a classroom
- being unable to play or take part in activities quietly
- talking excessively
- trouble waiting their turn
- often interrupting or intruding on others
- not being able to focus on details
- not following through on instructions
- not seeming to listen when spoken to directly
- Includes a mix of behaviours that meet the criteria for both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive ADHD
ADHD and other conditions
The complexity of ADHD itself, together with similarities to other conditions and rates of comorbidity with other conditions, is a big reason why so many myths surround ADHD and why people can struggle with an ADHD diagnosis.
In one study, 66% of children diagnosed with more than two psychiatric disorders were diagnosed with ADHD, which can make it hard to separate ADHD behaviours from those linked to other conditions. ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) are the conditions most commonly diagnosed alongside ADHD.
It’s also important to rule out other causes for ADHD-like behaviours. Your child may not pay attention in the classroom (a sign of inattentive ADHD) because they can’t hear properly due to an underlying hearing impairment. Or, they may get up from their chair constantly (a sign of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD) because they can’t see the board and need to get closer.
The overlap between ADHD and other conditions can make it tricky to confirm a diagnosis and can result in cases where children may have received an ADHD diagnosis when another diagnosis may have been a better fit. If you think your child may have been misdiagnosed, it’s best to seek a second opinion from a specialist.
OTHER REASONS FOR ADHD-LIKE BEHAVIOUR
ADHD-like behaviours may also be triggered by grief, trauma, neglect and environmental factors. In certain cases, inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity is used as a coping mechanism by a child to gain attention and deal with emotional overwhelm.
When seeking an ADHD diagnosis, it’s vital that a holistic view of your child’s life is used by specialists to determine whether ADHD or another condition is causing difficulties. Areas to consider include:
- Family life (family structure, quality time, family issues e.g. divorce)
- Life events and experiences (trauma, divorce of parents, loss of loved people etc.)
- Other conditions (auditory or visual disorders, ASD, SPD, ODD, etc.)
- Mental health
Supporting your child with ADHD
If you’ve received an ADHD diagnosis for your child, there are several ways you can support them to learn and better manage their condition.
Consult a specialist: paediatricians, psychologists and psychiatrists can provide up-to-date advice on how to manage ADHD symptoms and offer long term support.
Consider medication: while not required in every case, medication can make a big difference to your child and help them feel more in control during the day.
Regular therapy: occupational and speech therapists can suggest strategies to help you and your child better manage inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Structure and routine: introducing more structure makes it easier to follow rules, understand what comes next and keep your child on track during the day.
Rest breaks: building regular rest and movement breaks into the day gives your child the chance to move, jump and be active in a controlled way, so they are more ready to learn.
Wear JettProof calming clothing: JettProof delivers gentle compression all day, providing sensory input to improve sensory awareness, calm down the body, reduce stress and increase overall wellbeing. Just like “wearable therapy”, JettProof sensory clothing helps people with ADHD stay focused by providing the deep pressure input they need.
About JettProof Sensory Clothing & ADHD
JettProof calming sensory clothing may assist children and adults living with ADHD, as well as Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Apraxia, Dyspraxia, OCD and Anxiety. Stay up to date with the JettProof journey by following us on Facebook and Instagram or by joining our mailing list to receive regular updates.*Please note, the following guide should not be used as diagnostic criteria or medical advice. We strongly advise speaking with medical professionals if you believe you or your child are experiencing symptoms of ADHD.