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ADHD

What Is ADHD?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It’s caused by brain differences that affect attention and behavior in set ways. For example, people with ADHD are more easily distracted than people who don’t have it. ADHD can make it harder to focus, listen well, wait, or take your time.

Having ADHD affects a person at school, at home, and with friends.

The signs of ADHD start early in childhood. But some people don’t find out they have it until they are older. It all depends on when ADHD keeps them from doing well, and when they see a doctor about it.

No matter when a person finds out they have ADHD, the right treatment can help them do better in all parts of their life. Having great support from parents, teachers, and friends helps too.

What Are the Signs of ADHD?

People with ADHD might:

  • have trouble listening and paying attention
  • need lots of reminders to do things
  • get distracted easily
  • seem absent-minded
  • be disorganized and lose things
  • not sit still, wait their turn, or be patient
  • rush through homework or other tasks or make careless mistakes
  • interrupt a lot, and talk or call out answers in class
  • do things they shouldn't, even though they know better
  • get upset easily
  • feel restless, fidgety, frustrated, and bored

Teachers will notice signs like these in the classroom. And parents will notice signs like these at home. You may notice signs like these in yourself. If you do, talk to a parent or teacher about it.

How Do Doctors Tell if a Person Has ADHD?

Finding out if you have ADHD starts with a doctor visit. There are no lab tests or blood tests for ADHD. Doctors ask questions and listen. They know what signs to look for. Doctors also do an exam to check for other health issues that could cause the problems you’re having.

Doctors may ask you to fill out checklists. They may have parents and teachers fill out checklists too. If you have ADHD, your doctor will explain what can help.

What Is the Treatment for ADHD?

The treatment for ADHD can include medicine and therapy.

Medicine can make it easier to pay attention, slow down, and be more patient. Your doctor can explain more about this to you.

Therapy can help you learn ways to improve your attention, deal with distractions, cope with feelings, and get along better with others. Therapists can help you see the best in yourself and find ways to use your strengths. They can teach you to use mindfulness to improve attention.

Parents can help too. They can learn more about ADHD. They can help you listen better or be more organized. Parents can also give encouragement, love, and support. They can get coached on ways to bring out the best in you.

Teachers can do things to help you do well in class, such as:

  • Break schoolwork into parts.
  • Help you organize your work.
  • Let you sit where they are fewer distractions, like away from a window or door.
  • Give you quick breaks to get up and move during class.

You can do things to help yourself, like:

  • Eat healthy food.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Be active every day.
  • If your doctor prescribed medicine, follow the instructions for how to take it.
  • Practice the skills you learn in therapy.
  • Practice mindfulness exercises.

It takes time, patience, and effort to manage ADHD. But with treatment and support, people can improve their attention and self-control, do well in school and activities, and feel good about themselves.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2022