Monica Michael LPC | The ABCs of ADHD
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The ABCs of ADHD

What is ADHD?

According to the diagnostic manual for the mental health profession (DSM-IV) ADHD has at least four key characteristics. A person exhibiting ADHD behaviors would be displaying:

  1. impulsivity, inattention and/or hyperactivity that is not age appropriate. These traits would be obvious to others
  2. in more than one setting and be
  3. significant enough to keep the person from successfully attaining age-appropriate goals. All of this would have been evident before the age of seven.

What does ADHD look like?

People who talk to me about their own struggles with ADHD typically mention feeling frustrated by a number of things that keep them from fully enjoying their life and developing satisfying relationships. Perhaps you too experience:

  • Trouble getting to and staying asleep
  • Disorganization resulting in messy rooms, cars, work spaces
  • Frequently losing things or forgetting important details
  • A hypersensitivity to smells and tastes
  • Chronic constipation
  • A pervasive feeling of boredom

Notice that none of these things correspond to the clinical symptoms of ADHD. Yet, these are the types of things that will motivate a person to seek professional help. In fact, it is very likely that they are seeking help because a teacher, boss or spouse is insisting on it. This is because it is quite common for someone with ADHD to not realize there is a problem. Thankfully help is available regardless of what motivated the search for help.

How do I know I have ADHD?

Better research and new technologies have brought ADHD assessment a long way since the days it was diagnosed on the basis of a few teacher reports and a 15-minute doctor’s exam. There are variety of methods to objectively test how you engage with your world and how your brain functions. Depending on your doctor, psychologist, or counselor’s training they may use tests* such as:

Continuous Performance Tests

* T.O.V.A

Brain Imaging and Function

* fMRI

*This is not an exhaustive list. It merely demonstrates that objective assessments are available to both diagnose your disorder and measure the efficacy of your treatment.
See video on the value of objective diagnoses »

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