How to Write About ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Remember that kid in class that could never sit still and was forever getting told off?
Some kids were forever in detention because they just wouldn’t do what they were told.
Some got off (seemingly lightly) because they’d been diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
ADHD is often associated with children, but it’s a lifelong condition that manifests in childhood.
Even if a person isn’t diagnosed until adulthood, they will still have exhibited symptoms as a child.
While ADHD can be managed through medication, there is no cure.
Chances are, you’ve come across someone with ADHD at some point and dismissed them as flippant, arrogant, or annoying.
But when someone has ADHD, it’s not that simple…
ADHD in children and teenagers
ADHD can cause serious issues for children and teenagers at school.ADHD can cause serious issues for children and teenagers at school. #writetip Click To Tweet
It can cause them to underperform, struggle to make friends, or disrupt classrooms.
And all of this by the time someone is six.
This is very much a condition you’re born with rather than one you develop.
Symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Getting easily distracted
- Careless mistakes
- Constant fidgeting
- Difficulty listening or carrying out instructions
- Interrupting others when they speak
- Difficulty organising things
Just because a child has ADHD that doesn’t mean that they’re the loudest, most disruptive member of the class—they’re just as likely to be quiet, shy, and uncomfortable.
Treatment for children and teenagers
It’s generally frowned upon to treat ADHD with medication (at least in the UK—I can’t speak for other countries).
Talking therapies, stress management and educational support are preferred.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is also thought to be effective.
If ADHD isn’t treated when someone is a child, it can cause issues into adulthood.
ADHD in adults
It is possible for someone to suffer from ADHD throughout their childhood and adolescence without being diagnosed.
While these cases are rare, they do happen.
It’s far more difficult to be diagnosed as an adult, however.
There must be proof that the person suffered from at least some of the above symptoms growing up.To be diagnosed with #ADHD as an adult, there must be proof that they suffered growing up. Click To Tweet
There must also be evidence of the symptoms below.
Because ADHD in adults is so difficult to diagnose, it can take years to get a definite diagnosis.
Symptoms of ADHD in adults
- Excessive fidgeting
- Always needing to keep their hands (and minds) busy—when sat still they may need to do something such as knitting or drawing
- Short attention span
- Forgetfulness or losing things easily
- Difficulty concentrating on mind-numbing tasks
- Interrupting others when they speak
- Mood swings or a short temper
- Risk taking
- Criminal offences
- Struggling to hold down a job
- Poor time management
- Being easily distracted
Treatment in adults
The default treatment for adults with ADHD is medication, but CBT and other talking therapies are also used.
Connections to other disorders
ADHD in can also have a side of bipolar disorder, OCD, depression, anxiety, and more.
Much like with any mental health disorder, it’s possible to suffer from several at once.
ADHD is also common in people with autism.
In recent years, ADHD and ADD have been combined, but for argument’s sake, ADD will be covered in a future blog post (stay tuned!).
Over to You
Have you ever written a character with ADHD? How did you approach it?
Do you have ADHD yourself? How do you feel about how it’s conveyed in literature/pop culture?
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