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Signs of ADHD

Signs of ADHD - SUN Behavioral Columbus

The APA defines Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD, as a “behavioral condition that makes focusing on everyday requests and routines challenging.”  ADHD affects 12.8% of children living in Ohio, with 7.7% of these children on medication for ADHD according to the CDC. While children are primarily diagnosed with ADHD, adults can continue to exhibit signs of ADHD well into adulthood.

ADHD can look very different depending on the type of ADHD, age, and gender. There are three main types of ADHD diagnosed in childhood: Combined type, Impulsive/Hyperactive Type, and Inattentive/Distractible type. The Combined type is the most commonly diagnosed type of ADHD and is characterized by hyperactive and impulsive behaviors in addition to inattention and distractibility. The Impulsive/Hyperactive type is the least commonly diagnosed and is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive behaviors without distractibility and inattention. The Inattentive/Distractible type predominately is characterized by inattention and distractibility without hyperactivity. A meta-analysis by Willcutt EG. Neurotherapeutics found that “inattentive type of ADHD was the most common subtype in all samples, with the exception of pre-school children, in whom predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type was the most common.”

ADHD can have different symptoms depending on age. Children diagnosed with ADHD can experience fewer symptoms as they age, but new symptoms can appear as well. Adults with ADHD report having difficulty with emotional regulation and can become easily flustered or explosive. ADHD may cause sleep disorder in adults and children.

While ADHD is found three times more in boys than in girls, this could be due to the presentation of ADHD symptoms looking differently based on gender. Commonly, girls with ADHD have the Inattentive/Distractible type, which can be harder to diagnose because it is not as disruptive. The number of girls with ADHD might actually be higher than we think.

Signs of ADHD Inattentive/Distractible Type

Individuals with Inattentive / Distractible type experience difficulty sustaining attention to tasks and remembering details. Every person diagnosed with ADHD may experience different symptoms, but these are common signs of this type of ADHD:

  • Short attention span for age (difficulty sustaining attention)
  • Difficulty listening to others
  • Difficulty attending to details
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor organizational skills for age
  • Poor study skills for age

Signs of ADHD Hyperactivity/Impulsivity Type

Individuals with Hyperactivity/Impulsivity type experience restlessness, sudden urges, and doing things without thinking. While everyone with this type of ADHD may exhibit different symptoms, these are the common signs of ADHD Hyperactivity/Impulsivity type:

  • Often interrupts others
  • Has difficulty waiting for their turn in school and/or social games
  • Tends to blurt out answers instead of waiting to be called on
  • Engages in risky behaviors and often acts without thinking
  • Can appear to be in constant motion; runs or climbs, at times with no apparent goal except motion
  • Has difficulty remaining in their seat even when it is expected
  • Fidgets with hands or squirms when in their seat; fidgeting excessively
  • Talks excessively
  • Has difficulty engaging in quiet activities
  • Loses or gets things repeatedly and often
  • Inability to stay on task; shifts from one task to another without finishing either

ADHD Can Be Managed

While medication is prescribed to more than half of children diagnosed with ADHD in Ohio, non-invasive treatment, such as talk therapy, has become successful and more prevalent in helping individuals with ADHD. The following are many effective therapy interventions for treating ADHD:

  • Behavioral Therapy - This is one of the most common and effective therapeutic models for treating ADHD in children. Behavioral Therapy consists of implementing structured environments across home and school settings, which creates routines and predictability, in turn increasing positive attention.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - Also known as CBT, is a common and effective treatment for children, teens, and adults with ADHD. This therapeutic model aims to change negative thinking patterns, help individuals to reframe how they feel about themselves, and lessen life impairments experienced by individuals with ADHD.
  • Mindfulness - Mindfulness is an evidence-based therapy that helps relieve ADHD symptoms by increasing the brain’s dopamine level, which is in short supply in individuals with ADHD.
  • Brain Training or Neurofeedback - Neurofeedback uses brain exercises to reduce impulsivity and increase attentiveness in children and adults with ADHD.
  • Music Therapy - For children and adults with ADHD, music therapy increases attention and focus, reduces hyperactivity, and strengthens social skills by providing structure, which is soothing to the brain of individuals with ADHD.

There are plenty of skills and tools that children and adults can practice to effectively manage ADHD on their own. The following is a list of coping skills that have shown success in managing ADHD:

  • Making lists - This tool can help individuals with ADHD who struggle with organization. For children, parents can help their child create a list of things that need to be done for the day or the week, depending on the age, and cross off the task when completed. You can use a whiteboard, a chalkboard, or anything for writing that can also double as fun to increase the child’s interest in organizing. Too much on a list can overwhelm individuals with ADHD so shorter lists are preferred to long lists with a lot of tasks.
  • Create a quiet environment - Individuals with ADHD can become overstimulated easily, and when enough distraction accumulates, then it can be hard to have the energy to get back on task. Silencing notifications on phones, tablets, or any electronic device is a great start. Keeping a decluttered work or home office will make it easier to focus and cut down on becoming distracted. A white noise machine or white noise playlist can help keep your mind on task and cover up other noises that might distract you.
  • Schedule tasks - Avoid multitasking, as it has been found to be ineffective for everyone, not just people with ADHD. Try to do one task at a time and put the tasks in your calendar to help to remind you to do only one task at a time. The structure of having a task scheduled can lessen the stress of wondering when to complete a task or wondering how to get a task done.

Most people with ADHD are diagnosed as a child, so managing ADHD effectively is a team effort. Changing behavior is easier when there is consistency. The following are some tips for parents to help their children successful manage ADHD:

  • Connect with teachers, caregivers, and other providers - Having a child with ADHD means that they require a different environment. When your child is first diagnosed with ADHD, informing any caregivers will make the change easier for both your children and them. They also might have their own tips for how your child can be supported when they are at school, doing activities, or with a babysitter.
  • Give them a break - As mentioned earlier, people with ADHD have been found to have fewer dopamine levels in their brains than people without ADHD. Dopamine allows us to regulate our emotional responses and take action to receive rewards. You can help increase your child’s dopamine by having them engage in fun activities that make them laugh and smile, such as art, dancing, yoga, singing, playing with slime, or play-dough
  • Soothing tools - If you have a child with ADHD, then you have probably seen them become stressed after you give a direction or they have to switch tasks. Sensory input is anything we perceive using our senses, and when we sense things we like, it has a calming effect. This calming effect can, in turn, make it easier for us to get back on track and focus. Try therapy putty, a fidget toy, finger painting, or even blowing bubbles to help soothe your child. Sensory tools are also effective if they have hyperactivity.

ADHD Treatment at Sun Behavioral Columbus

If you believe you are your child are experiencing signs of ADHD, SUN Behavioral Columbus is here to help. Open 24 hours and 7 days a week, SUN Behavioral Columbus has onsite treatment and counselors as well as connections to behavioral resources in the community to help you. Navigating mental health crisis or treatment can be challenging, and we are here to make the process easier for you and your family.

Treatment for ADHD may be provided via a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or an intensive outpatient program (IOP). PHP includes five group therapy sessions per day, five days per week. The PHP groups use a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach. PHP offers coping skills training and a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), which is an evidence-based system to help people understand and apply wellness techniques for the purpose of relapse prevention. The IOP includes three group sessions per day, five days per week. Key components of the IOP include stress management, life skills development, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and yoga and physical wellness strategies. There are also outpatient programs tailored for children with ADHD. These treatment approaches will help you or your loved one gain new skills to better cope with ADHD.

Here at SUN Behavioral Columbus, we believe in empowering our patients to be the expert in their life. This includes being able to identify their own needs and learning how to overcome obstacles. To learn more about how we can help, call 614-706-2786.

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