Posts Tagged ‘neurobiology’

How Do You Know if Someone Has Attention Deficit Disorder?

You don’t.
ADHD is a neurobiological condition and it’s expressed differently in each person–Sir Richard Branson, Jim Carrey and Michael Phelps all have ADHD.

Everyone has occasional forgetfulness or overwhelm, but people with ADHD may have chronic difficulty with executing daily tasks in most areas of life. The executive function impairments are usually due to inherited problems with the neurotransmitters of the brain’s management system. There are six areas where these challenges show up.

These examples are from six of my students:
1. Organizing tasks and materials, estimating time, prioritizing tasks, and getting started on work tasks. Joyce puts off getting started on a task, even one she recognizes as very important like packing for a move, until the very last minute. It’s as if she can’t get started until the point where she sees the task as an emergency.
2. Megan described her problem sustaining focus as similar to trying to listen to the car radio when you drive too far away from the station and the signal begins fading in and out: you get some of it and lose some of it. She gets distracted by things that are going on around her, and also by her own thoughts.
3. Mike can perform short-term projects well, but has lots of difficulty with sustained effort over longer periods of time.
4. Ethan describes chronic difficulties managing emotions –frustration, anger, worry, disappointment, desire, and others.
5. I personally have difficulty remembering where I just put something, what someone just said to me, or what I was about to say. It’s hard to hold thoughts “on line” I also may not be able to pull information up when I need it.
6. Trevor has a problem regulating actions. He’s often impulsive in what he says or does, and in the way he thinks, jumping too quickly to inaccurate conclusions. He may fail to notice the impact of his words and actions on others, and as a result, sometimes alienates people.

These six areas are not mutually exclusive; they tend to overlap and are often interactive. Fortunately we can create positive structures and habits that help us function more successfully. Yay for brain plasticity!