Firstly, ADHD very often has another disorder ‘piggy backing’ on it, meaning that quite often the weaker disorder is seldom diagnosed with the ADHD.
This could be Autism, Asperger, Tourette’s syndrome, OCD and Sleeping Disorders to name but a few. However, you may find a support group for people that are living with one of these hybrids, or a support group for anyone with a combination of ADHD and a secondary condition.
The problem with mental health is that no 2 brains are the same, and as such, no two cases of ADHD will manifest themselves in the exact same way or extremity – There may be similarities in traits, but these traits won’t be 100% identical. As such, you may need to go through a couple of support groups to find the one that the person with ADHD is most comfortable in.
Secondly you need to look at the person’s lifestyle. Are they more quiet and reserved, or are they a party animal, Classical music or Rock fan or do they Exercise or play lots of Video Games? The reason I tell you to look at this is because if you find groups for people that share similar interests, they are to be far more enjoyable and beneficial than sitting and talking to a group of people that are at polar opposites in regards to interests.
If the support group is for yourself, do take in all that I’ve said, just remember, follow your head. There’s no point in putting yourself in a situation that you won’t feel comfortable in. If you’re not ADHD, however, you require support as a caregiver, friend, family member or partner, there are all kinds of groups out there for you also, just remember, and Google is your friend!
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
When it comes to diagnosing ADHD, there are huge hurdles. Not because it’s hard to diagnose, but because it has a plethora of ways in which it can manifest itself. Also, there are 3 varieties of ADHD Predominantly Inattentive, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive and Combined which is when criteria from both lists are met.
Now when it comes to diagnosing ADHD in children, you need to try to see the world through their eyes. If you have an 8 year old who runs around causing mayhem, and one who never stops wriggling and moving and who becomes bored quite easily, you may actually just have a normal 8 year old. If this behaviour is new, look at recent events, going back as far as a year, try to pin point what has caused this sudden change in behaviour, and when it started. It’s easy to say “oh, he’s got ADHD” But what if it’s not?
A lot of children begin to act out of the ordinary when a life changing event has happened around them, parents splitting up, when the primary parent moving a new partner in to the home, the death of a loved one or depression. All of these situations can cause a child to grieve be that a divorce, a new partner ‘taking the others place’, the loss of a friend or relative or even moving to a new area, where they are essentially alone, in a new place having to make new friends and relationships. The first 4 stages of loss and grief can cause behaviours similar to the symptoms of ADHD.
- Denial and Isolation – simply put, this is a mechanism that shunts the initial shock until we’re ready to deal with it.
- Anger – This is sometimes a snapping point, for others it fades in. However, the traits are nearly always the same. Feeling vulnerable, like an animal backed in to a corner, all rationality takes a hike. Eccentric behaviour patterns come in, almost like OCD. Think Nicholas Cage’s Matchstick Men. Aggression can also take hold, both verbally and physically, however, the Anger phase with children tends to involve a lot of questions.
- Bargaining – This is where feelings subconsciously have run their course. There is nothing else for them to do, but they remain engrained, and as such, bargaining is the minds way of regaining control, this could be generally by either questioning the situation, or by making statements about what could/would have been.
- Depression – This is quite simply the depressing feeling that children get from the unknown. Will I fit in? What happens next? Depression holds some similarities to ADHD however, so you should really check with a mental health specialist who deals with children and young people.
- Acceptance – This is the final stage of the grieving process, however, it is also the most important. For most of us, young and old, it comes naturally, in others however it needs a bit of a push. In most cases, all 5 of these stages blend into each other over a course of time, but when it comes to the crunch, the best thing you can do is get inside your child’s head, and talk to them, talk them through everything. Reassuring them and helping them along the way. It is after this stage has passed that your old, normal child will return secure and comfortable in the knowledge that everything will be ok.As you can see, ADHD shares characteristics with a lot of other conditions out there, hence why the diagnosis process takes so long, because if a young child is in the grieving cycle, for whatever reason, the Mental Health specialist wants to be sure that your child actually does have ADHD and not something else.If the general behaviour from the second paragraph is pretty much normal behaviour for your child, then do check out our list below, for they could have ADHD, and although there’s nothing wrong with having ADHD, sometimes it is best to have the assessment done to ensure safe guards are put into place for schools and further education.
- Inattentive Concentration – These people are easily distracted, tending to not carefully analyse things, such as written words, numbers or numerical symbols. They will often have to reread the same page of a book because they missed something and frequently switch from doing one thing to another. For example playing with action figures one minute, then playing with a train set the next. They also tend to have difficulty focusing on the task at hand, this is most problematic when required to do homework and coursework, as they often do not complete it due to not being able to organize and allocate time to do it. Inattentive Concentration also makes losing things, be that a mobile phone or an army tank (a real one!) very easy.Not because they’ve been careless, but they’ve left it on a desk at school or in the canteen and got up and gone. Although people with Inattentive Concentration are usually listening to, the expression on their faces may lead you to think otherwise, this is more to do with the difficulty to process information quickly, accurately and to actually retain it, they will ask you a few times, but are genuinely listening, they’re just trying to get it to stick in their head. This is one of the few symptoms that everyone has, and that is struggling to follow instructions. We are a natural species of pragmatists, and if you tell us not to push the button, we are going to be more tempted to push said button!
- Hyperactivity –People who have hyperactivity, as in the physical need to move tend to fidget a great deal, talk nonstop, run everywhere, generally touching and playing with anything and everything to hand. School is also more challenging for those with Hyperactivity, as the constant need to move can be overwhelming. Hyperactivity also tends to render people with the condition unable to do anything quietly.
- Impulsivity – People with the impulsive variation of ADHD tend to be impatient, to the point of wanting something 10 minutes before they ask, they also tend to have a no holds barred repertoire on how they express themselves with little concept of the consequences and also often interrupt others’ conversations and activities.