Many people with ADHD aren't aware they have it. They will be aware however that everyday tasks seem more difficult for them than for others. Typical symptoms are finding it hard to focus, missing deadlines and trouble controlling impulses, ranging from impatience to mood swings and outbursts of anger. Other symptoms include:
The above list may be familiar to most people at different times in their lives. If these symptoms occur only occasionally, they probably don't have ADHD. A doctor usually diagnoses when someone’s symptoms cause problems that stop a person working, finding stable housing, or living normally and safely.
Diagnosis of ADHD in adults is often trickier because the same symptoms also occur in mental health conditions, such as anxiety or mood disorders. Many adults with ADHD also have at least one other mental health condition (depression and anxiety are the most common).
Symptoms usually start before the age of 12 and continue into adulthood.
ADHD is a lifelong condition, though it often becomes less marked in adulthood. But it can be effectively managed. The first step is to see a doctor and start seeking a diagnosis.
In the UK, the incidence of ADHD in school-aged children is thought to be between 3 and 5%. In adults it is between 3 and 4%.
We still don’t know for sure. An enormous amount of research is focused on finding the causes of ADHD. Factors that may be involved include:
The risk of a person developing ADHD may increase if:
ADHD has been linked to:
Making the diagnosis normally includes:
ADHD is normally treated through a two-pronged approach:
Doctors might prescribe stimulants for ADHD – which might seem counterintuitive, but has a strong evidence basis for regulating brain activity.
Some ADHD patients might also benefit from antidepressants or other medication, but in every case a doctor is best placed to advise on what to take.
Psychotherapy is indicated for people with ADHD but behavioural therapies can also help manage traits that make people with ADHD disorganised, and teach useful skills as well.
NHS Choices provides information about the signs, symptoms and treatment for depression.
For people with an ADHD diagnoses, this charity provides resources and advocacy.
Aimed at young people, this profile of ADHD explains what it is, how to seek treatment and mental health concerns for people with ADHD in a clear and straightforward way.
People diagnosed with autism are now often given an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis.
Asperger’s syndrome is a type of autism. It is not a disability, or a learning disability, it is a neurological difference. It can be associated with high intelligence but it can challenge a person’s way of life in terms of relationships or emotions. People with Asperger's syndrome process information, communicate, and experience the world in a fundamentally different way to neurotypical people.
Autism is a lifelong developmental difference which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.
Being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people.
Autistic people often interpret verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice. Some have limited ability to speak or do not speak at all while other autistic people have very good language skills but have difficulty understanding sarcasm or tone of voice. They may also take things literally, need longer to process information or answer questions and repeat what others say to them.
Autistic people often have difficulty 'reading' other people - recognising or understanding others' feelings and intentions - and expressing their own emotions. They may at times appear insensitive, feel quickly overcome in social situations and find forming friendships hard.
Greta Thunberg, climate activist, said: “I have Aspergers [a type of autism] and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances – being different is a superpower.”
Autism is more commonly referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is because different people on the spectrum display different degrees of difficulties in everyday life.
Experiencing one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean a person is autistic. But if these kinds of things are consistently present and are impacting upon someone’s life, they may want to talk to a medical professional and discuss how to get a formal diagnosis.
Symptoms of autism usually start in very early childhood. However, it is unusual for people to get a diagnosis before the age of 5. Many people on the milder end of the spectrum go undiagnosed for years if not for their entire lives.
Autism is known as a neurodevelopmental difference and is not something to “cure”. However, there are many benefits in getting a diagnosis for autism, ranging from extra support at school through to a better understanding of the condition, how to live with it and how best to manage it.
Nobody knows. Autism is a neurological difference.
Risk factors for autism include:
Yes. There is no “cure” for autism, although medication is sometimes used to help manage symptoms.
There are instead a number of different therapeutic approaches which can help both the autistic adult or child. These include:
You can speak to one of our team for more information on how we can help.
NHS Choices gives clear information about what autism is, and what a diagnosis might mean for you or your family.
This autism support network offers advice for people whether or not they have a diagnosis.