Living With Attention Deficit


As many as seven percent of people have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It isn’t just a condition of childhood; adults can have ADHD too. In fact, because ADHD was only recognized fairly recently, there are a lot of adults who have had the condition since childhood, but because it was not widely known or well understood at the time, they were not properly diagnosed until much later, or possibly not at all—even though now it is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children. About a half to two-thirds of children with ADHD no longer show symptoms by adulthood.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is about 75 percent inherited, scientists have found, but exactly what causes it is unclear. The child of a parent—or the parent of a child—with ADHD is likely to have the condition as well. Some of the risk factors for ADHD are a family history of mental illness and being born to a mother who smoked, drank, or used drugs during pregnancy. There is also evidence linking ADHD to exposure to certain environmental toxins, either directly or as a fetus. In particular, children who are in contact with lead or other neurotoxins, or are born to mothers who were exposed to pollutants such as PCBs, are prone to developing ADHD.

Kids and adults alike show difficulty focusing and following instructions. Children may have trouble in school, such as getting work done or showing proper conduct. People with ADHD, especially ids, are prone to interrupt conversations and to fidget. Other symptoms include poor organization, a tendency to lose items and forgetfulness. Adults with ADHD may be impatient or impulsive, and often have relationship difficulties and quick tempers. People with ADHD also frequently procrastinate. Just as kids with ADHD have problems with school, adults may have problems at work.

It’s important for people of all ages with ADHD to have structure in their lives. Recognizing the problem is a big part of solving it; a person with ADHD can, once it is recognized, take steps to avoid the problems it causes. For example, to curb impulsive behavior, it is necessary to watch for it. Another coping strategy many people have found helpful is to break tasks down into small pieces. This makes it possible to finish tasks in less time than it takes to get bored.

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