What are the 3 Types of ADHD in Adults and Children?
- ADHD, predominantly inattentive (inattention, procrastination, forgetfulness, problems with focus)
- ADHD, with the hyperactive/impulsive component (problems to pay attention, excessive activity, difficulty to control behaviour)
- ADHD, combination of both 1 & 2 (hyperactivity, inattention and impulsiveness)
ADHD Diagnosis and Symptoms in Adults
Grace was 37 when she came to see me with her 8-year-old daughter for a dyslexia assessment. It turned out that her daughter was dyslexic, but the primary reason for her literacy struggles was ADHD. I would have diagnosed her with ADD, but apparently that label is now outdated and has been replaced with ‘ADHD, Inattentive Type’. As ADHD stands for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, it’s slightly odd to call a person hyperactive, yet not hyperactive, just inattentive.
Even that label should really be altered as the opposite is happening for an individual with ADHD (any of the three types of ADHD): they are highly attentive, just a lot more stimulated by the environment than the average person. Their attention is everywhere.
During the assessment Grace realised that she may have ADHD as well and when looking at the official criteria, where 6 or more points need to be applicable, Grace was like her daughter, ADHD – without the hyperactive component.
The textbook criteria or ADHD symptoms include:
- Trouble listening
- Losing focus easily
- Feeling spacey
- Feeling hesitant
- Making careless mistakes
- Difficulty following instructions
- Difficulty with executive functioning tasks (organisation, prioritization, time management, etc)
- Low self-esteem/ feeling of shame
Grace had mixed feelings about the diagnoses of ADHD. It explained the massive anxiety around work. It explained the feelings of inadequacy, shame and the frustration of having to work twice as hard as others at her job – to the point when she welcomed working from home as she could work until late at night, without others witnessing her struggles. Sometimes there is relief in knowing, of having a label.
There was also a feeling of grief over lost years. “What if I had been diagnosed when I was a child?” she wondered. She wondered if she would have made different choices and would there have been a way to manage life in a better way?
Grace is dyslexic too and recognised all the struggles her daughter is facing now.
What’s the Difference Between ADHD and Dyslexia?
Interestingly, I can easily find six things from that list of ADHD symptoms in adults that would apply to most of my dyslexic clients as well.
I explain the difference to Grace:
Dyslexia and ADHD are different labels that can overlap and confuse, as they have much in common, but for a purely dyslexic child the challenges to focus and learn to read, write and spell show up when the child enters school.
The symbols and words that don’t have a clear meaning cause the confusion, lack of concentration, overwhelm, uncertainty and many other dyslexic symptoms that follow, including anxiety and other emotional and mental health issues.
For a child with ADHD (all three types of ADHD), the challenges show up much earlier than for dyslexia.
You can see the young toddler with ADHD being overly active, physically and mentally. As they are processing information at a much higher rate, they quickly assess an environmental stimulus and move on to the next one.
Information for toddlers usually gets processed on the right side of the brain: the visual, creative, intuitive side that also plays a dominant role in dyslexia.
When the child with ADHD enters school, they have not connected as well to the slower, linear side of the brain (left side) and keep processing visually and fast-paced.
At that point we recognise the concept of time is a challenge: they lack a relationship to time, estimating time, telling time, time management. Time being a part of change makes the concepts of change and consequence murky. As they don’t process on a slow, linear pathway, the concept of sequence and order may also be a problem.
50 – 60% of children with ADHD are also dyslexic or have other learning differences.
40% of children with dyslexia also have ADHD (but mostly the inattentive form).
Is Medication the Solution for ADHD?
I was sitting at the dentist’s the other day, mindlessly reading “Mindfood”, when I came across an article about adults being diagnosed with ADHD. The article focused more on women, but the message would be the same for men.
They said that ADHD is normally diagnosed by a specialist clinician, like a psychiatrist or an educational psychologist. The psychologist would more likely recommend behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, social skills training, time management and emotional counselling etc.
The psychiatrist will most likely aim at psychostimulants – medication to treat ADHD.
Dr. Zimmerman bravely stated that “Learning to understand the condition is vital. Accepting that medication as treatment is essential. Understanding that ADHD is a brain disorder is important.”
The last sentence of the article was quite interesting too: “Just like someone needing reading glasses, no matter how much they squint, they cannot do for themselves what the glasses can do for them.”
It is one thing to claim that no behavioural or psychological approach can manage ADHD as well as medication but comparing medication – with sometimes severe side effects, to be taken for the rest of their lives – to wearing reading glasses is another issue altogether.
There are truly hyperactive children who may benefit from psychostimulants such as Ritalin, temporarily, including those who
- Cannot stop fidgeting and squirming in their seat
- Are overactive all the time
- Run, jump and climb excessively
- Have problems playing with others or quietly
- Are always on the go and talk excessively
- Cannot control impulses
- Find it hard to wait their turn, interrupt others
- Cannot focus on a task
ADHD is seen as a chronic condition, which can’t be cured. As I’m mainly working with adults with dyslexia, that statement reminds me of what is said about dyslexic individuals: dyslexia is a chronic condition with cannot be cured.
What if we look at both from a totally different angle?
If you have a disease or a medical condition, you can talk about cure. But what if neither dyslexia nor ADHD are a disease or a brain disorder?
They are both processing differences and yes, they should be corrected or mitigated, without a need to numb a person into a zombie-like state. So what are the solutions to ADHD that do not require medication!
ADHD Treatment Without Medication
Solutions that don’t involve taking medication for the rest of your life are not quick-fix or magic pill approaches.
Once Grace had made the decision to get help, I introduced her to the program called BECOME which applies ADHD behavioural therapy approach. BECOME is an acronym for:
B – Belief that change is possible and that we have the power to affect our lives. Belief and Intention are an important starting point.
E – Emotional help to address past trauma which is very common (anxieties, frustrations and trauma, usually from childhood or from school years)
C – Concepts: Linear concepts such as change, time, sequence etc. are processed on the left side of our brain, the rational, linear, logical part. Yet many people are more linked to the right side (the visual, round, creative, intuitive) and time is often the most challenging concept for them. Time management, estimating time or even learning to read analogue time would have taken them longer.
O – Optimal Perception Point: Once a person has a proper alignment of their physical, mental and emotional self, they will be able to focus better and for longer.
M – Mindfulness/ Meditation: Short but continuous daily visualisations or meditations help to make a new way of using the brain a habit. We are conditioning the body and the mind to change.
E – Executive Functioning Exercises: These exercises put the weekly concepts into action to improve working memory, attention span, comprehension, sequencing, and time management skills.
Contrary to many other programs, this is not an online course with a one size fits all approach. Instead, it is a one-on-one tailored program via zoom once a week, for three months. It includes learning a different way of reading and writing, if literacy is a struggle too, like in Grace’s case.
Grace is only six weeks into the program and when we met on zoom yesterday for the weekly session, she commented that she already feels that her:
– anxiety has reduced dramatically
– writing has improved and she is making fewer mistakes
– focus is much better and for much longer
– orientation is towards a brighter future, instead of the anxiety and past trauma
– reading is now fully comprehended, without having to read over a text again and again.
After tolerating the limitations that ADHD had created for Grace for her entire life, it is truly inspiring to see the level of transformation and increase in skills and confidence achieved in only six weeks. We are both excited about her progress and the changes she is expected to continue to see in her life.
How To Get Started with our ADHD Non-Medication Program
The program we provide can help adults with ADHD achieve enormous results but to find out if it is an appropriate approach for you, an assessment is necessary first.
From our ADHD assessment, we’ll be able to let you know whether our ADHD program may work for you as an adult and what a one-on-one program would look like based on what we find.
Find out more about our ADHD assessments to help get you on the path to solutions for a better life.