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What is ADHD


ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a condition that impacts adults as well as children.

The NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 72 states that “The definitions of ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder are based on maladaptively high levels of impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. They are all based on observations about how children behave: ‘impulsivity’ signifies premature and thoughtless actions; ‘hyperactivity’ a restless and shifting excess of movement; and ‘inattention’ is a disorganised style preventing sustained effort.”

ADHD is more commonly known as a childhood disorder, however, it is neurological condition that continues to cause difficulties in adulthood.  The understanding of ADHD in Ireland and the UK is extremely minimal and in many case remains undiagnosed.  Untreated ADHD in adulthood has been linked to greater risk of alcohol and substance abuse, emotional problems and problems with relationships as well as difficulties maintaining jobs.  All these problems collectively can lead to severe depression and anxiety and a feeling of having failed to meet potential. 

Predominantly inattentive ADHD:     Inattention is the main presenting problem. The child or adult will have great diffuiculty  focusing on details they make careless mistakes due to failing to maintain attention on the activity, they appear not to  listening, often do not follow the instructions have difficulty organizing tasks, easily distracted, often forgotten, known as daydreamers etc.

Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD:      Hyperactive and impulsive behaviours are clearly apparent.  May appear fidgety , have difficulty sitting still and many talk excessively.  The person usually exhibits  incessant movements with hands or feet.   Inattention may be present as well, though generally not as obvious.

Combined ADHD: All three ADHD traits of  hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity are present and causing the person difficulties in equal measure.

Common traits of Adult ADHD


• Lack of organisation

• Inability to concentrate

• Frustration

• Forgetfulness and poor memory

• Poor self-discipline

• Inability to establish and maintain a routine

• Confusion, trouble thinking clearly

• Constantly losing or misplacing things

• Difficulty in finding and keeping jobs

• Depression, low self-esteem

• Blurting out responses; poor social timing in dialogue

• Irritability, impatience 

•Difficulty controlling temper

•Difficulty managing paperwork on jobs

•Greater than average tendency toward substance abuse

•Tendency toward impulsivity; making decisions without careful long-term planning

•Tendency to be either over-active or under-active

“Education and knowledge about the disorder is more powerful than anything else you do. Teaching people about their disorder is crucial. Our studies show it actually changes more behavior than the active treatment. It  gives people (teachers, family members, employers) knowledge from which they can reframe their understanding of sufferers. That's a very powerful act. So much change takes place just from giving people accurate information.”


  Russell A Barkley, PhD (Cape Cod Lecture Series, 2001)