The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has laid down certain guidelines to help identify a person with ADHD. According to the diagnostic manual, people with ADHD display a combination of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. People who are inattentive find it difficult to focus on a particular task and get bored quickly. Read on.
Ten-year-old Nita just can't seem to sit still. She talks a mile a minute and fidgets constantly. The teachers complain that she disrupts the class constantly and never follows instructions. Her homework and projects are always incomplete and full of careless errors and she is easily distracted. Nita has the classic signs of a person with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has laid down certain guidelines to help identify a person with ADHD. According to the diagnostic manual, people with ADHD display a combination of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
According to the DSM, signs of inattention include:
- becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds
- failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes
- rarely following instructions carefully and completely
- losing or forgetting things like toys, or pencils, books, and tools needed for a task
Some signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity are:
- feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming
- running, climbing, or leaving a seat, in situations where sitting or quiet behavior is expected
- blurting out answers before hearing the whole question
- having difficulty waiting in line or for a turn
People who are inattentive find it difficult to focus on a particular task and get bored quickly. While they may display effortless concentration doing things they enjoy, making a deliberate and conscious effort to organize and complete a task or to learn something new is difficult. Hyperactive people seem to bounce off the walls with energy and just cannot sit still. Impulsive people don't think before they act or speak. They have difficulty waiting for things to take their natural course. Everything must happen right away.
There have been times in all our lives when we have been overly impulsive, inattentive or hyperactive. But that does not mean that we are afflicted with ADHD. These behaviours are symptomatic of ADHD if they appear early in life, before the age of 7. However, the age of onset can vary and symptoms may even appear in early adolescence. They must be excessive, long-term and pervasive. They must occur more often than in other people of the same age group. The behaviours must cause a real handicap in atleast two areas of the person's life such as school, home, work, or social interactions.
Boys are at least three times as likely as girls to develop the disorder.
Impact of ADHD
As a result of the disorder, children with ADHD often engage in disruptive activities and antisocial behaviour that alienates their peers and other people around them. In addition, their academic performance tends to suffer because of their inattention and easy distractibility. Parents of children with ADHD experience high stress levels that are linked to their extreme frustration in attempting to discipline their children. This can lead to problems in the marriage and in the worst case, even divorce. Unfortunately, ADHD is not a disorder that disappears with time. ADHD persists into adulthood. However, the good news is that there are ways in which one can alleviate the symptoms. For more information about The Causes of ADHD, click here. For more information on Coping with ADHD, click here.