ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a neurobiological disorder that varies in its degree of severity. According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), each subgroup has specific diagnostic criteria and depends on which symptoms stand out the most.
Even though the above ADHD/ADD signs may be observed in people frequently, it does not necessarily mean the person has ADHD/ADD. It is when these symptoms become significantly more pronounced in one person, compared to another person of the same age and when their behavior starts to have a significant impact on their functioning. In other words, it begins to impair and undermine the quality of their school, social and work life, that the person may have ADHD/ADD.
Standardized assessment by a registered, trained professional helps determine to what extent a person formally meets the diagnostic criteria or not. Included in the testing is a computerized simulation assessment, questionnaires and checklists to complete in your own time and other assessments depending on the nature and complexity of the issue.
A registered, trained professional helps determine to what extent a person formally meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD or not. This evaluation process involves screening and formal testing such as an interview, testing, computerized simulation assessment, questionnaires, checklists and other assessments depending on the nature and complexity of the issue.
A psychoeducational assessment will evaluate the person’s information processing, thinking and reasoning abilities, as well as underlying psychological processes i.e. attention, concentration, fluid reasoning and memory. Academic achievement i.e. expressive and receptive language, reading, writing composition, math is reviewed, as well as behavior, socio-emotional functioning. The results help to make sense of any underlying difficulties the person may have and provides root causes behind school, work or related life challenges. The information creates a picture of the person’s unique learning profile, by assessing current cognitive functioning and gaining insight into strengths and weaknesses. An accurate picture of the person can change the way they and others perceive them and can ensure that appropriate educational programming, student and workplace support or accommodations needed for success are recommended.
The etiology and how ADHD occurs, are complex and can involve multiple causes. About two thirds of ADHD cases are caused by genetics and are largely hereditary. In other words, it runs in families. The remaining cases are likely due to neurologically compromising events such as infections, brain traumas, maternal tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy, maternal malnutrition, toxins (mercury, lead) and other things that can affect ongoing brain development.
Most problems occur with time management, planning, organizing and the ability to complete tasks and goals. Always being late, missing deadlines, procrastination, little concept of time, etc. It appears people with ADHD or ADD underestimate time. They tend to postpone things until the last minute to deal with it. They begin to plan for an inevitable event, but feel they cannot quite complete it until it is the eleventh hour. As they live in the moment it seems everything in life becomes a crisis. Others would say the person with ADHD could have avoided the crisis, but somehow chose not to. They are perceived as having a lazy, care-free, care-less attitude that they could change at any time if they want to.
The ADHD or ADD truth is that the executive functioning area of the brain which is responsible for decision making, planning and time management, fails to work effectively. The person has an inability to accomplish all of the things they intended to do. ADHD can be seen as a performance disorder. It is not a knowledge disorder. You know what to do, but not always how to get it done.
Other adult ADD or ADHD signs and symptoms include unhealthy lifestyle, financial and work problems, accidental injuries and driving, risky sexual behavior, smoking, addictions, legal difficulties, relationship issues and academic failure.
Inattentive Presentation or ADD and disorganization are more common. A person constantly ends up feeling overwhelmed and frantic about coping with day-to-day basic things. Do you impulse buy, wonder what to cook (again), forgot the washing in the machine or cookies for school, struggle to prioritize, overcommit, feel embarrassed to invite people over because the house is a mess? Relationship difficulties may include: marital problems, sexual issues, sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies or parenting issues. Each case needs to be diagnosed individually based on their situation and risk factors.
ADHD Assessment or screening services for children and adults are conveniently offered in our Calgary and Bragg Creek locations. We welcome clients from Redwood Meadows, Wintergreen, Millarville, Priddis, Cochrane and Black Diamond to contact us. Unfortunately many government and publicly funded agencies have long wait lists which can be up to and over one year. This can limit parents or a person’s ability to quickly get funding for the care needed. We strive to help those in need faster than they would be able to get within a government funded agency.
The ADHD or ADD evaluation process involves screening and formal testing. The standardized assessment determines whether a person meets the criteria for ADHD or ADD or a learning disability or a processing disorder or other coexisting factors that may be impacting on learning and what accommodations are needed.
To test for ADHD, the assessment include an initial interview, standardized testing, scoring, analysis, interpreting and report writing followed by a debrief meeting to discuss the results and recommendations. Assessments tend to be standardized, but sometimes customized assessments are needed as many disorders or issues are not clear-cut. This happens mostly with underlying or co-existing Anxiety and Mood Disorders, Behavioral Disorders, Perceptual, Neurological, Personality Disorders, Giftedness and a variety of other issues.
First of all, ADHD is not gender biased. Symptoms can be seen in girls and boys, where most kids never outgrow it. Many women grow up assuming that ADHD is a diagnosis for hyper little boys or a “male disorder”. In other words, men and women are equally likely to have ADHD symptoms. Girls tend to develop ADHD or ADD later than boys and have more emotional turmoil as a result of their symptoms. These are some of the reasons why so many women go undiagnosed (misdiagnosed).
Parents and children often miss the warning signs. The pressure to perform means that many girls internalize their symptoms and then end up with depression, anxiety, perfectionism, a sleep or eating disorder. They typically have fewer friends, mostly daydream, trouble following instructions, make careless mistakes on homework and tests. During puberty some girls may experience an increase in PMS severity, promiscuity, a greater risk of cigarette smoking (as early as age 11), alcohol, drug abuse and unhealthy relationships due to low self-esteem or self-loathing.
“Of course you don’t have ADHD. You’re smart.” Even if you have a high IQ, work very hard or have a lot of support, you can keep your symptoms in check for long enough to get to college, or not. Women everywhere are using their ADHD to do amazing things and become successful. They are caring, sensitive, never boring, see things differently, trying out new things, innovative, entrepreneurs, creative artists, athletes, trailblazers, comedians or even astronauts. For example Avril Lavigne, Agatha Christie and Karina Smirnoff and the list goes on. We have a long way to go in addressing the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds this diagnosis. What is important to remember while we increase our awareness, is that you can get the support and strategies you need to move forward in a healthy and positive way.