What is neurodivergence or neurodiversity?
Neurodevelopmental conditions arise as a result of differences in brain development. Neurodiversity is a term coined in the late 1990s by sociologist Judy Singer that has been steadily gaining popularity.
Rather than viewing neurodivergent conditions as mental deficits or disabilities, the term neurodiversity aims to highlight the idea that neurological variations can be viewed similarly to normal variations among the human population. The terms neurodivergence and neurodiversity are used interchangeably.
What is ADHD?
ADHD refers to Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, a neurodevelopmental condition, which arises as a result of the brain developing differently during key stages of early development. This condition is usually first diagnosed in children, but can also affect adults, although symptoms are often displayed differently. ADHD is the most common neurodivergent condition found in childhood, with studies finding that 8.8% of children aged three to seventeen have received a diagnosis of ADHD.
An ADHD diagnosis falls into one of three types: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, or combined type. Common symptoms for hyperactive/impulsive ADHD include difficulty remaining focused, missing details, and losing items needed for daily life. Common symptoms for inattentive ADHD include fidgeting, excessive talking, and inability to remain quiet during leisure activities.
Are people with ADHD neurodivergent?
Neurodivergence encompasses the conditions ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyspraxia, and Dyslexia, as well as others. Because ADHD is characterized by neurological differences that arise during development, it is categorized as a neurodevelopmental condition, making it a form of neurodivergence. Overwhelming research supports the theory that ADHD arises as a result of genetic variation.
How is ADHD diagnosed?
Diagnosing ADHD is a complex process consisting of several steps. The first step is to talk to a healthcare provider. A healthcare provider will gather information about the patient’s behavior during the last six months across different settings such as school, work, and home, in order to determine whether the patient’s symptoms meet the criteria for ADHD.
A primary care physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist will use the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition, or the DSM-5, a set of diagnostic criteria, to evaluate the patient. This ensures that a set of consistent standards are used for evaluation and treatment across communities.
ADHD cannot be diagnosed by a single test, and many other conditions present similar symptoms, which is why a healthcare provider must complete a comprehensive evaluation in order to establish a diagnosis. Other neurodevelopmental conditions as well as mental conditions such as anxiety and depression often occur comorbidly with ADHD, which is why it is important for a healthcare provider to rule out other possibilities for the patient’s symptoms.
Symptoms of ADHD
Many experience similar symptoms to the symptoms of ADHD listed below at some point in the course of their lives, but individuals with ADHD experience these symptoms more frequently, for at least six months, and to an extent to which it disrupts their daily lives. ADHD displays differently in adults than it does in children, so there are slightly different criteria dependent on the patient’s age.
Symptoms of Inattentive ADHD:
To receive a diagnosis of inattentive ADHD, patients aged 17 or older must have exhibited five symptoms, and children under 17 must exhibit six symptoms, frequently, over the past six months.
- Fails to pay close attention to details and often makes careless mistakes in tasks at school, work, or related environments
- Has difficulty remaining focused during tasks and activities
- Does not appear to listen when spoken to directly
- Fails to follow through when given instructions and does not complete tasks, often initiating tasks but then quickly losing focus or getting sidetracked
- Has difficulty organizing responsibilities and managing time efficiently
- Tends to avoid or dislike tasks that require continuous mental effort over a long period of time
- Tends to lose important things necessary for daily life, such as phone, wallet, keys, and materials necessary for school or work
- Tends to be easily distracted
- Has difficulty remembering daily tasks and responsibilities
Symptoms of Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD:
To receive a diagnosis of impulsive or hyperactive ADHD, patients aged 17 or older must have exhibited five symptoms, and children under 17 must exhibit six symptoms, frequently, over the past six months.
- Tends to fidget, tap hands or feet, or squirm in seat
- Unable to remain seated
- Runs around or climbs in environments where it is considered inappropriate to do so
- Is unable to remain quiet during leisure activities
- Seems to always be “on the move”
- Talks an excessive amount
- Interjects with an answer before hearing the end of a question
- Finds it difficult to wait in line or wait for their turn
- Interrupts others and intrudes in situations
The presence of these symptoms may indicate the possibility of ADHD, but it is important to be evaluated by a healthcare professional who can conduct a complete assessment for diagnosis. At PlushCare, we have several providers who can help you reach a diagnosis online.~
Many benefit from ADHD treatment.
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