Frequently asked questions about ADHD and treatment
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a behavioral condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. The term covers an assortment of behaviors, including difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, forgetfulness, and disorganization.
Is there a difference between ADHD and ADD?
ADHD has two different variants. Some people with ADHD are hyperactive, some are inattentive, and some are both. The term “ADD” is not officially used; it is all called ADHD (ADHD hyperactive variant, ADHD inattentive variant, or ADHD combined hyperactive and inattentive)
What causes ADHD?
ADHD is thought to be a biologic difference, although the exact anatomic or biochemical variations have yet to be worked out. It runs in families, and in the near future genetic diagnosis may be available.
There is evidence that environmental factors, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or high levels of lead during pregnancy or childhood can also contribute to the emergence of ADHD in affected individuals. It is also possible that our “electronic world” with many competing electronic stimuli that we respond to, could contribute to worsening attention span.
What does it mean to be focused?
Being focused means that you automatically pay attention to one thing. Other things that compete for your attention are automatically relegated to “less important” status.
What does it mean to have ADHD?
If a person can’t focus on just one thing at a time, his brain sees many things as equally important and his attention jumps from one item to another. Most people can automatically focus, without having to work too hard to do so. If that focus does not turn on automatically most of the time, you get distracted in many situations and may be diagnosed with ADHD.
It’s important to note that we can all think in an ADHD way at times. If we are over-scheduled, if we check our phones a million times an hour, if we are tired, depressed or anxious, or simply not interested in what we are doing all of us will have worse focus. Similarly there are times when your ADHD child may focus wonderfully.
It’s important for both you and your child to know that having a diagnosis of ADHD does not mean that your child cannot focus. ADHD is diagnosed when a person is frequently unfocused and distracted, to the degree that significantly impairs how they function.
What are some of the features of ADHD?
According to the DSM-V, ADHDers who are mainly inattentive:
- Often fail to give close attention to details; they make careless mistakes in schoolwork or with other activities.
- Often have trouble keeping their attention on tasks or play activities.
- Often do not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Often do not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace—they lose focus or become sidetracked.
- Often have trouble organizing tasks and activities.
- Often avoid, dislike, or are reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework), and thus procrastinate.
- Often lose things necessary for tasks and activities, such as school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones.
- Are often easily distracted.
- Are often forgetful in daily activities.For example, they often forget to do their chores.
ADHDers who are predominantly hyperactive-impulsive:
- Often fidget with or tap their hands or feet, or squirm in their seat.
- Often leave their seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
- Often run about or climb in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents may be limited to feeling restless).
- Often are unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
- Are often “on the go,” acting as if “driven by a motor.”
- Often talk excessively.
- Often blurt out an answer before a question has been completely asked.
- Often have trouble waiting their turn.
- Often interrupt or intrude on others by butting into conversations or games.
For a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms have to be present in childhood although they may not impact the child significantly until her teen years. Symptoms also need to be present in more than one setting (a child doesn’t have ADHD only when she’s in math class, for example—the symptoms of inattention must be present both at home and at school).
The symptoms have to be present for at least six months prior to diagnosis. They have to cause problems with functioning in different settings—not just school or home.
ADHD & the Focused Mind is your book about using the secrets of world class athletes to manage ADHD.
Why would athletic coaching strategies help ADHDers?
First of all, you want a strategy that your child can intuitively understand and relate to. Many children have been exposed to coaching in sports (or PE or other athletic situations) and are not threatened by it.
The book shows you that the same secrets for focus and improved performance that the most elite athletes use can be applied to your child with ADHD. These include paying attention to sleeping and nutrition, focusing your eyes, and setting goals.
We also discuss emotional pitfalls that can hamper performance, as well as ways to keep your child’s spirit positive so she keeps trying to excel. The principles of coaching a child with ADHD (and having your child accept the coaching you or someone else may do) are also discussed.
ADHD & the Focused Mind connects athletics to ADHD. My child is not an athlete. Can this book still help him?
Our approach involves using the training techniques of world-class athletes. Not the physical training techniques—this book is not about coaching ADHDers to run a four-minute mile, shoot winning baskets, or land the perfect “ten” in gymnastics.
Instead, this book is about teaching ADHDers how to develop the same intense focus and commitment that athletes use to attain their performance goals. This is called the athletic mindset. By doing this, the ADHDer can take these skills and apply them to any aspect of performance in his life.
Just as athletes improve their athletic skills through proper coaching and training, ADHDers have mental skills that they can improve through proper coaching and training. Both ADHDers and athletes need to identify challenges, set goals, and train hard with a coach. A person with ADHD who does this can break away from a cycle of underachievement or outright failure to become a world-class success story.
Not everyone can become an Olympic-level athlete. But everybody can develop the mindset that an Olympic athlete uses to achieve his goals, and everybody can apply that mindset to their own personal arena of performance and achieve a gold medal in life!
Winning with ADHD is your book for young adults that is co-written with a young adult who has ADHD herself.
Is that also about the athletic mindset?
Although this book also is a holistic approach to ADHD, a main feature of this book are specific and concrete steps a teen/young adult can take to manage their ADHD better. Check out the “Plays” which will give you great ideas about how best to manage school, homework, family life, and friends.