Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD, is a behavior disorder that affects one’s emotions and behaviors. Tell-tale signs of the different kinds of ADHD are often inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. ADHD affects mostly children, but it can also occur in adults. Most often, symptoms of hyperactivity appear between the ages of 3-7, resulting in many cases being diagnosed in young children. However, sometimes ADHD can be overlooked during childhood, resulting in many adults being diagnosed at a later age.
There are three different types of ADHD. These are:
• Combined. This is the most common type of ADHD, with both inattentive and hyperactive tendencies.
• Hyperactive/compulsive. This type of ADHD has compulsive tendencies with hyperactive behavioral habits.
• Inattentive. Those with this type of ADHD have predominantly inattentive tendencies and are easily distracted.
Although these are the outlines for the three different types of ADHD, it’s important to remember that symptoms can vary on a person-to-person basis, with one person’s experience of ADHD being very different from another’s. For example, two people may experience the same symptom in very different ways; this is often seen when comparing signs of ADHD between men and women.
As mentioned above, symptoms and how an individual experiences them differ from person to person. However, the three different types of ADHD typically experience the following symptoms:
• Trouble focusing on a single task.
• Difficulty listening to others.
• Loses interest and gets bored quickly.
• Easily distracted, with a short attention span.
• Difficulty organizing thoughts.
• Difficulty following directions.
• Not detail-oriented.
Women are more commonly diagnosed with inattentive ADHD than males; however, it can be argued that many women are given an improper or different kind of ADHD diagnosis due to ADHD presenting differently in women. For women with inattentive ADHD, symptoms may present more internally, and they may experience emotions such as overwhelm or anxiety.
• Difficulty sitting still for any period of time.
• Fidgets excessively, with a lingering feeling of restlessness.
• Takes risks without considering the consequences of actions.
• Interrupts others, blurting out or speaking inappropriately.
• Struggles to engage in quiet activities.
• Difficulty staying on task.
• Talks constantly.
• Always loses things.
• Difficulty waiting for their turn.
Many children with this kind of ADHD struggle in school due to their inability to focus. This can lead to acting out in frustration, making them a distraction to others.
Those who experience combined ADHD will often experience symptoms from both hyperactive and inattentive ADHD. In addition, their symptoms may change over time, such as from childhood to adulthood, so it’s important for individuals to identify their symptoms to ensure that they are implementing appropriate measures to assist with them. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, most children, specifically boys, tend to have combined ADHD.
While there is so much about the different kinds of ADHD that is still yet to be discovered and learned, professionals have compiled a brief list of factors that may contribute to ADHD. Most professionals still agree that genetics play the largest role in the development of ADHD; however, the following factors are being researched as contributing factors:
• Substance abuse during pregnancy.
• Born prematurely or with low birth weight.
• Exposure to toxins either in pregnancy or from a young age.
• Brain injury.
While the definitive causes of the three different types of ADHD are still unknown, it remains one of the most researched conditions. Professionals have discovered that those with this brain-based disorder have lower levels of dopamine, a brain chemical. Additionally, they have found through PET scanners that the brain metabolism in children with ADHD is lower in the areas that control social judgement and attention.
ADHD is three times more likely in males than females; however, this figure may be subject to challenge due to many females not receiving an ADHD diagnosis. Within the USA, between 4-12% of children have ADHD, with around 4% of adults in the USA living with this condition. With more information becoming available about ADHD yearly, these figures will likely rise.
Unfortunately, diagnosing ADHD isn’t as simple as taking a blood test. As ADHD shares symptoms with other disorders, such as certain kinds of autism or anxiety, it can be difficult to provide a clear diagnosis from the beginning. Your doctor will start with a process-of-elimination strategy, ruling out other conditions before settling on a diagnosis.
An ADHD diagnosis in adults can often be difficult due to it being associated with comorbid disorders that may complicate its recognition. Most frequently, ADHD can be confused as anxiety, substance abuse disorders or personality disorders due to the strong neurobiological and habitual similarities between these comorbidities. This makes diagnosing ADHD in adults slightly more difficult.
In America, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is used to diagnose those with ADHD, listing detailed symptoms, of which an individual must display six out of nine to be diagnosed. In addition, these behaviors must disrupt your everyday life for at least six months for a diagnosis to occur.
A pediatrician, doctor, psychiatrist or qualified mental health professional must be the one to issue a diagnosis. It’s important to remember that some symptoms of ADHD may resemble other medical conditions or disorders. If you’re ever unsure, contact a qualified professional.
Treatment options for the different forms of ADHD vary dependent on several factors, including:
• Severity of symptoms
• Tolerance for medication or therapy
• Opinion or preference
There are a few different routes for treatment that you can take.
Therapy is a safe and non-intrusive treatment for ADHD that doesn’t require any medication, and is often used as a first resort. Therapy helps those with ADHD replace inappropriate behaviors with new, learned behaviors (often through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), or is simply a space for them to express feelings and lighten their emotional load. Individuals will learn coping mechanisms and new skills to help them cope with ADHD.
Psychostimulants are often used due to their ability to balance chemicals in the brain that control compulsivity, helping to keep hyperactive behavior under wraps. This medication helps stimulate the brain to assist with focus and concentration. They’ve been used to treat behavioral disorders since the 1930s and are widely studied, making them a safe option. In some cases, anti-depressants are prescribed to ease feelings of anxiety, depression and aggression. However, as with any medication, there is a risk of side effects. We recommend you discuss whether medication would suit you with a doctor or qualified health professional.
Best sensory options for Hyperactive ADHD:
• For the hyperactive types, specialized fidget tools can be used as an effective sensory strategy to help with stress-relieving.
• Let off steam in the interactive ball pool. Any mess will be contained within the pool, allowing the individual to be chaotic within a controlled environment.
Best sensory options for Inattentive ADHD:
• Multisensory rooms can be used to reduce anxiety, encourage problem-solving and enhance social intelligence.
• Bubble tubes are excellent for ADHD, helping users to focus. They stimulate visual development and are a great way of exploring sensory interaction.
There are no known preventative measures for ADHD. To help reduce the risk of ADHD, medical professionals recommend that mothers do not smoke, drink, or take drugs throughout their pregnancy. In addition, they recommend expectant mothers should practice healthy habits to increase the chances of a healthy child. However, given the large genetic component, children ADHD can develop from the healthiest pregnancy.
It’s important to note that there is nothing wrong with having ADHD – it is often simply described as having an ‘interest-based nervous system’, meaning the brain seeks out stimulation that will provide it with dopamine, often in the form of interest, competition, novelty and urgency. Though it may disrupt a child’s learning ability and behavior, those with ADHD live healthy and long lives. As with any disorder, the sooner it is detected, the higher the likelihood of reducing the severity of the symptoms.
We hope that you feel confident distinguishing between the three different types of ADHD and are now aware of treatment methods for the different kinds of ADHD. Should you require any further information, please check out our blog for helpful tips and tricks. If you have any other questions regarding ADHD or sensory equipment, please contact a member of our team today.
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