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Types of ADHD

Types of ADHD, ADHD diagnosis, ADHD treatment

When most people think of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they think of a child who cannot stay in their seat, who fidgets and distracts other kids, who blurts out comments and generally has a lot of energy. For many years, this was how professionals saw ADHD as well, but it is now recognized that while this is one presentation of ADHD, it’s not the only one. At Highland Hospital Behavioral Health in Charleston, West Virginia, we see all forms of ADHD among our patients.

Types of ADHD

There are three types of ADHD, all of which can manifest differently from one person to the next but present in the following ways:

  • Hyperactive-Impulsive Type:
    • Squirming/fidgeting
    • Running or climbing when they shouldn’t be
    • Difficulty being quiet
    • Overly talkative
    • Interrupting and blurting out information
    • Always moving
  • Inattentive Type:
    • Not paying attention to details, making careless mistakes
    • Not listening
    • Inability to follow or understand instructions
    • Avoiding tasks that require effort
    • Distractibility, forgetfulness, misplacing things
  • Combined Type:
    Combines features of both hyperactive and inattentive ADHD

Gender Differences

Back when psychologists knew only of the hyperactive-impulsive presentation of ADHD, they assumed it was a condition that primarily impacted boys. As the condition has been researched further, it has become clear that this was simply how ADHD most often showed up in boys, while girls were more likely to experience the inattentive type. 

Age of Onset

ADHD is a condition that begins in childhood, before the age of 12, although sometimes it is not diagnosed until adulthood. Sometimes, ADHD symptoms will disappear as the child enters adulthood. Around sixty percent of children with ADHD also experience some other mental health concern, such as anxiety or depression.

Causes of ADHD

It is unclear what causes ADHD, but genetics seem to play a role, and scientists are conducting research to determine if any of the following might also contribute to this condition:

  • Brain injuries
  • Environmental hazards
  • Alcohol or tobacco use while pregnant
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight

Until we better understand the causes of ADHD, little can be done to prevent it.

Receiving a Diagnosis

In order for a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, they have to show a certain number of the symptoms listed above for one or more presentations of ADHD and they must also:

  • Show symptoms in two or more settings.
  • Experience symptoms in ways that interfere with their functioning in those settings.
  • Not have symptoms that are better explained by another mental health condition.
  • Not have symptoms that only occur while they are experiencing another mental health condition, such as schizophrenia.

How ADHD is Treated

Though ADHD can present in different ways, all varieties are treated in the same way, which involves medications, therapy, or both. The medications most commonly given to treat ADHD are stimulants, though non-stimulant medications are used in cases where stimulants are ineffective or cause unwanted side effects. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common therapeutic intervention utilized to treat ADHD. Support groups and ADHD-specific coaching may also help people with ADHD build skills for time management, organization, socialization, and listening.

Setting Up a Home that Promotes Success for People with ADHD

At Highland Hospital in West Virginia, we treat children, adolescents, and adults with a wide range of mental health concerns. We often have parents reach out for help because they need support in managing their child’s symptoms at home. The following steps are often helpful for children with ADHD:

  • Teaching the child to make lists of chores and homework assignments they need to complete
  • Breaking down large tasks into smaller, easy-to-complete pieces
  • Helping children to stay organized by ensuring everything has a place and returning items to their places each night
  • Reducing distractions from electronics and noise
  • Rewarding children when they meet goals
  • Ensuring children with ADHD are seated away from windows and have proper academic accommodations in school settings

At Highland Hospital, we want to fight the misconceptions that ADHD is tied to intelligence. There have been many very smart people who have struggled with this condition. ADHD is also not a sign that someone is lazy. If a person has ADHD, it simply means that their brain works differently from other people’s brains.

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