ADHD Continues Its Effects Long Beyond Childhood
March 11, 2013

ADHD Continues Its Effects Long Beyond Childhood

I recently read about the adulthood effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (more commonly known as ADHD). The findings were not good. Before getting to those, though, a brief overview of what ADHD is, as well as some symptoms, will help to clarify why it is so important to catch and treat ADHD in children.

What is ADHD?

First of all, it is one of the most common childhood disorders according to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). Moreover, it consists of symptoms including difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity. ADHD has three categories: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive.

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive consists of those who have most ADHD symptoms in the hyperactivity-impulsive categories, with six or fewer in the inattentive one. Predominantly inattentive means that the majority of symptoms fall under the inattention category while six or fewer fall into hyperactivity-impulsive. Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive means that six or more symptoms fall under inattention and six or more fall under hyperactivity-impulsive. The majority of children have the last subtype.

Exactly What are Those Symptoms?

That’s a very good question. Here’s what the NIMH said for inattention:

  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty focusing on one thing
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Struggle to follow instructions.

And here’s what they say about hyperactivity and impulsivity:

  • Fidget and squirm in their seats
  • Talk nonstop
  • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
  • Be constantly in motion
  • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
  • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
  • Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities.

Now for the requisite rebuttal. Like many of you, I wonder if ADHD is not often misdiagnosed in kids who are just being kids. Looking at some of these symptoms, I feel like sometimes kids just get bored or maybe they interrupt conversations because they do not have the skills necessary to know that’s wrong. Sometimes kids are just kids.

But sometimes, about eight percent of the time, kids suffer from ADHD, and it does not stop there. CNN reported that the disorder and its issues can carry over into adulthood. The study found that about a third of all children from the study who were diagnosed with ADHD continue to have the disorder as adults. What is more is that more than half of these suffered from another psychiatric disorder, namely depression and anxiety disorders.

Furthermore, suicide rates were five times higher in adults who had ADHD. These findings should concern us all. Yes, sometimes kids are just kids; but sometimes kids suffer from ADHD. If untreated, this can lead to much larger issues as adults. We should not jump to assumptions. We should not become paranoid. But we should definitely be aware of the issues ADHD causes in both children diagnosed with the disorder and adults who continue to suffer from it.

Taking responsibility of our health — especially our mental health — is crucial to a healthy, happy life. Knowing what to do with ADHD in those we love and ourselves is the first step to owning our mental health. Talk to a doctor if you or someone you care for might have ADHD. Lives depend on it.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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