What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition affecting between 2% and 5% of the population. Neurodevelopmental means that it has to do with the way a person’s central nervous system works, keeping in mind that all people are different! ADHD difficulties usually become apparent when a person is a young child. People with ADHD have difficulty in controlling their attention and inhibiting their impulses. They often have great difficulty in planning tasks, getting started on and keeping going with activities especially if they are effortful. It is well-known that children with ADHD are more active than other children, though girls with ADHD tend to be less active than boys with ADHD. It’s hard for children who have ADHD to become engrossed in their activities, to enjoy and learn from them. Children who have ADHD are more at risk of having other neurodevelopmental difficulties such as specific learning difficulties. Because of their impulsivity, children with ADHD can be very disruptive, so they can struggle to maintain friendships. Other relationships can also become strained. These difficulties can lead to increasing behavioural or emotional difficulties.

ADHD is a condition which is treatable with support, psychological input and sometimes medication. These treatments do not cure the ADHD – it is a more question of adapting to, and minimising the impact of the ADHD, coming to grips with the fact that some symptoms may persist into adulthood. It is important to remember that children with ADHD are often delightful children who will grow into fun and interesting adults. Childhood can be a particularly challenging time for those with ADHD, in part because of the way the condition interacts with our environments and cultures – for example – with dangers on our roads, in our neighbourhoods, and the need for learn a great deal at school. Helping to develop a better ‘match’ between the person, their condition and their environment can be an important part of treatment.

People are sometimes surprised that children with ADHD can play computer games for long periods. This may be due to the highly interactive nature of the games which have continually changing stimuli. When assessing whether or not a child may have ADHD, their ability to attend to computer games is generally disregarded.