To mark ADHD Awareness Month in October, we have compiled an ADHD A-Z. It features tips, reminders and explanations about different aspects of ADHD.
A for Assessment
ADHD is not something you can self-diagnose and it affects everybody differently. This is why it’s paramount to get an accurate ADHD assessment done by a professional and experienced clinician. They can also advise you about the different treatment options that are available. Here is a guide to Booking an Online ADHD Assessment that you might find useful.
B for Brain
To really understand ADHD, we have to understand how our brains work. Obviously, this is incredibly complicated, so here is a simplified explanation.
In our brains, there are neurons (brain cells) that pass information to each other using chemicals called neurotransmitters. This is how we come to interpret the world around us. In an ADHD brain, this process is not always smooth and the neurotransmitters are often underactive. When messages between neurons aren’t passed on accurately, it can cause symptoms of ADHD such as inattention and hyperactivity.
C for Comorbid Conditions
ADHD often occurs alongside other conditions that have overlapping ADHD symptoms. These are known as comorbidities or comorbid conditions. Depression, anxiety, OCD and insomnia are among the most common comorbid conditions of ADHD. It’s important to diagnose co-occurring conditions so that the optimum course of treatment can be recommended. Our blog The Tip of the ADHD Iceberg has more information about comorbid conditions.
D for Diagnosis
Why get a diagnosis? Quite simply an ADHD diagnosis can be life-changing. With a diagnosis, you can learn how to recognise and manage your symptoms in order to move forwards in the future. Even for an adult who has learnt to ‘manage’ their symptoms, a diagnosis can bring a fresh perspective that gives them a much greater sense of self-acceptance and understanding. One of our clients, James Bloodworth, author and journalist, wrote Diagnosed with ADHD age 37 about his experience of being diagnosed with ADHD as a mature adult.
E for Evidence-based Treatment
Although there is no absolute cure for ADHD, it is possible to treat the symptoms very successfully in order to allow someone to flourish and reach their full potential. While studies show that ADHD medication is by far the most effective single course of ADHD treatment, it is not the only treatment option. Large worldwide studies in fact show that a combination of medication and focussed ADHD behavioural coaching produces the best outcome results. At The ADHD Centre, we take a holistic approach and recommend a combination of evidence-based treatments that depend on the particular difficulties of each individual client. As well as medication, we offer:
- Behavioural Therapy and Coaching
- Mindfulness Therapy
- Exercise plans
- Dietary advice
- Parental support programme
If you would like to learn more about treatment options, you may find this article useful ADHD: To Medicate Or Not To Medicate
F for Female ADHD
Despite perceptions of ADHD gradually changing over time, there are still far more boys diagnosed than girls. This is partly because more girls have Inattentive ADHD than Hyperactive ADHD. Hyperactivity is more disruptive and tends to be noticed and acted upon more frequently than inattention. If this subject interests you, then you might like to read Why Is ADHD Underdiagnosed In Women?
G for Green Space
Getting out in the fresh air, especially in green space can help impulse control and boost concentration levels in both children and adults with ADHD. Outdoor time has been shown to benefit not just the body but also the brain too. So getting out for a short time every day is imperative for someone with ADHD. If you’d like to learn more about this, then have a look at our article How Green Space Helps ADHD Symptoms.
H for Hyperfocus
There’s this idea that people with ADHD can’t focus on anything. This isn’t always true. Hyperfocus is the ability to focus intently on one thing for a long time and is a trait of ADHD. While being able to hyperfocus can be amazing as it enables high productivity levels, there’s a downside. It can cause you to lose track of time, skipping meals and bedtime etc. It can also lead to huge burnout once the period of hyperfocus is over. If you have a tendency to hyperfocus, you need to be aware of both the positive and negative aspects of it.
I for Iceberg
ADHD is like an iceberg, in that what you can see on the surface, is just a glimpse of what is hidden below. ADHD can impact someone’s life in many different ways and sometimes, it’s the issues below the tip of the iceberg that lead someone to seek out a diagnosis. This image of the ADHD iceberg shows some of the signs of ADHD that are not immediately obvious.
J for Journalling
Taking some time regularly to record your thoughts in a journal is a useful technique when there are too many things on your mind. Writing creates space in your mind as you don’t have to try to memorise what you are thinking about anymore. The physical act of putting pen to paper allows you to mentally engage with the information. Your brain processes information on a deeper level if you write by hand rather than on a phone or computer. Just remember to take a break from your thoughts once they are recorded.
K for Kids
While kids with ADHD can be extremely challenging for those who live or work with them, there are also many positive traits that can be found in ADHD children such as:
- Highly energetic
These more favourable characteristics are often overlooked but ADHD kids are pretty amazing!
L for Learning
ADHD can make learning challenging. For some people, this will be true throughout their entire education but for others, it becomes more evident as they mature and move towards more independent learning. The truth is that everybody can learn, but not everybody learns in the same way. It’s key to work out what works best for you. At The ADHD Centre, we are passionate about removing ADHD barriers to learning. Our blog Study Skills Tips For Adults With ADHD recommends assistive technology to support adults with learning. These two articles have some great study tips for children Homework Study Tips, Apps And Technology To Help Children With ADHD and for students 7 Ways For Students With ADHD To Maintain Focus.
M for Mindfulness
Mindful meditation helps the brain to focus on the present moment. It reduces stress and helps people to slow down their thoughts and actions. Mindfulness can be seen as a kind of cognitive fitness training that can be very effective in treating ADHD.
The ADHD Centre offers a six-part Essential Mindfulness Course. It can be taken at any time and the first lesson is FREE!
Here is Alexandra Loewe, ADHD coach and Mindfulness coach from The ADHD Centre, talking about her personal experience of the benefits of mindfulness:
N for Neurodiversity
The term ‘neurodiverse’ refers to different variations in neurology that affect cognitive functioning. You won’t always know if someone is neurodiverse as it presents differently in everybody.
Neurodiversity covers a whole range of conditions including:
Sometimes these conditions can overlap with each other and one can appear more dominant than another.
O for Organisation
A common characteristic of ADHD is disorganisation. Someone who finds it hard to remember details or is easily overwhelmed when there is a lot going on may struggle with organisation. If ADHD makes you disorganised, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself and tell other people what you find difficult. You need to take things slowly and not take on too much.
P for Procrastination
Procrastination can be a really significant issue for someone with ADHD. You know what you’ve got to do but just can’t get started or you just can’t keep going for long enough to get something finished. It can be very stressful and lead to missed deadlines and incomplete tasks. Being told to “just get on with it” is not helpful. Here are some tips to help you beat procrastination.
Q for Quiz
Q is always a difficult letter but luckily, we have an ADHD Quiz you can try! Sadly, there’s no prize for this quiz but it is a useful starting point for someone who suspects they may have ADHD. This short quiz is a series of questions that can be used to find out if you have some of the main symptoms of ADHD. Just remember it is not a diagnostic tool and only a qualified clinician is able to make an official diagnosis.
R for Routine
Sticking to a routine is crucial to regulate ADHD brain activity. It’s important to get up, eat and go to sleep at the same time every day so that your body and brain can work together to understand your needs. Of course, there are times when change is unavoidable. When your daily routine is disrupted, don’t expect too much of yourself the following day and monitor your ADHD symptoms carefully.
S for Stereotypes
In the past, many people believed that ADHD either didn’t exist or that it was a kind of ‘naughty boy syndrome’, probably caused by poor parenting! Thankfully awareness of what ADHD really is has helped to remove some of these stereotypes. Awareness of Inattentive ADHD has grown and more people now accept that ADHD does not always cause hyperactivity.
However, there are still too many people with ADHD that are not diagnosed until adulthood. This occurs much more frequently in women than men.
Sometimes inaccurate stereotypes prevent people from getting the support they need, as their ADHD symptoms don’t match people’s preconceived ideas. We are working hard to change this.
T for Technology
There is an increasing amount of technology that people can use in their daily lives to help ease symptoms of ADHD. Some examples are:
- Apps to help with organisation such as project management tools and electronic calendars
- Text-to-voice software that will read information for the user
- Voice-to-text software that will record someone’s words in writing
- Electronic timers to be used as reminders to change activities
- Apps to support mindfulness with calming music and peaceful activities
- Spelling and grammar checkers
- Mindfulness apps
- Fitness apps, classes and programmes
- Shopping list apps
And many, many more!
The 7 Best Apps To Help Kids With ADHD Thrive recommends apps to help ADHD children with learning, mindfulness and organisation.
U for Understanding
One of the reasons why we have ADHD Awareness Month is to create a greater understanding of ADHD. It can be a very lonely and isolating experience when people don’t understand why you act the way that you do. People are sometimes far too quick to judge someone else in a negative way without looking below the surface. Every behaviour is a reaction to a situation or environment and it can be beyond a person’s control. Let’s help by showing people more understanding, compassion and acceptance.
V for Validation
Validation comes when a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are recognised and understood. It’s what happens when ADHD is accepted by an individual (self-validation) and the people who interact with them. An ADHD diagnosis provides someone with validation and often makes their future appear a little brighter.
W for Work
ADHD can present a working adult with certain challenges and some adults with ADHD find it very difficult to hold down a steady job. However, the outlook isn’t entirely bleak; did you know that a high proportion of entrepreneurs have ADHD? If an ADHD adult can find a way to channel their energy and drive in a productive way, they can be very successful indeed in their professional life. It’s all about being kind to yourself, accepting your strengths and weaknesses and most importantly, finding work that suits you.
X for Exercise
Exercise is one of the best natural treatments for adults and children who have ADHD. Regular exercise not only burns excess energy but also releases chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, which is underactive in the ADHD brain. Exercise has been shown to increase attention span and the ability to focus. It’s essential to incorporate exercise into your daily routine to really feel the benefits it brings.
Y for Yoga
Yoga is great for ADHD as the techniques used to slow down breathing can slow down a racing mind. It takes time and practice but yoga has been found to lessen ADHD symptoms for some people. Other activities that focus on both the mind and body such as martial arts and Tai-Chi may also be effective in easing symptoms of ADHD.
Z for zzz…
If you have ADHD, you need to get a good night’s sleep yet ADHD can often prevent this from happening! It’s very common for people with ADHD to have sleep issues, whether it’s falling asleep, staying asleep or getting enough quality sleep. There are certain things you can do to help you to sleep better. One of them is to practice good sleep hygiene. Our blog Coronasomnia and ADHD has ideas about how to do this. Also, be aware of the effects of ADHD medication on sleep – sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. Make sure you monitor your sleep carefully following any changes to medication.
So there we have it. A complete A-Z of ADHD!
We would also like to take this opportunity to state that although ADHD can be very challenging, it shouldn’t always be considered negatively. As part of ADHD Awareness Month, we have been trying to spread the message that ADHD is not always disadvantageous. With the right treatment, care and support in place, people with ADHD can be highly successful and lead very happy lives.
At the ADHD Centre, we offer ADHD assessments for both adults and children as well as a wide range of evidence-based treatments and therapies. We have recently added online Autism assessments too. To find out more about any of our services, please visit our website. You can also contact us directly by email email@example.com or by phone 0800 061 4276
Updated October 2022