What makes it so difficult to complete homework? It could be procrastination; it could be laziness; it could be lack of interest. These are all well-known behaviors for teens, but maybe it is something that 9% of young people struggle with. A person with ADHD can try to start a project but not be able to even write one word. There is an unlockable barrier between them and their project, making it impossible to start. Are these teens lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, or just plain defiant? No, they have a diagnosed condition called ADHD.

What is ADHD? ADHD is an abbreviation for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder that develops during childhood. This disorder makes it difficult to concentrate, control impulsive behaviors and causes over activity. Once diagnosed, ADHD is a lifelong disorder; however, there are medical and scientific options to monitor and control ADHD symptoms. Those diagnosed with ADHD have access to behavior therapy and medications to regulate the affects. Symptoms can differ from person to person and vary according to age.

In school, concentration is a problem for students with ADHD, making it extremely difficult to complete tasks such as homework and to concentrate in the classroom. This makes it difficult to start or finish projects on time. They tend to hide or lose necessary items required for completing a task that they don’t enjoy. Relationships are difficult to create and maintain. With the feeling that they are always being annoying, they tend to keep to themselves and avoid group situations.

Is ADHD the same between boys and girls? The disorder is the same for boys and girls, but symptoms often present differently between the two. Verywellheath describes boys as being more impulsive and hyperactive and less of inattentive behaviors, opposed to girl being more inattentive with less impulsive and hyperactive behaviors. Boys are often diagnosed more than girls because of the way their ADHD presents itself. It is harder to notice a girl with ADHD opposed to a boy with it because he will be more disruptive and more noticeable than a girl who is inattentive. Although the differences between the two genders, the diagnosis stays the same.

There are ways to cope and make life easier for individuals with ADHD. The first step is to obtain a diagnosis through a family doctor, or a psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, developmental pediatrician, or neurologist. The diagnosis is usually a six-month process where the physician observes the patient and identifies symptoms and their duration. The physician also needs to consider the environmental factors. These diagnoses can be made from the young age of four all the way to adulthood.

Once a diagnosis is made treatments are considered. There are medications available that are capable of reversing some of the effects of ADHD and behavior therapy. Medications will help with the ability to focus and concentrate. For those who choose not to medicate themselves or for others where these medications may just not work, there are other options. Behavior therapy is an alternative option and is an effective method to control symptoms. The key to dealing with ADHD is to understand and learn ways to overcome the impact on daily living.

A 16 year-old Riverside student in grade 11 (who chooses to stay anonymous) shared his experience with ADHD.  He was diagnosed at the age of six years old. Before he was born, his parents were told by their pediatrician that he would most likely have ADHD due to past diagnoses of his father and grandfather. When he was younger, he tried behavior therapy, but it wasn’t helping. Because it didn’t help, he was put on medications. He has been taking medications since grade one. Even though he takes medication, focusing, concentrating, and controlling his impulsive behaviors are still a struggle for him. ADHD impacts him socially, making it difficult to create and keep friendships and relationships because of his impulsive decisions and lack of control of his emotions. He finds himself left out of situations with big groups of people.

Could this disorder be genetic? MedicalNewsToday suggests that it could be a combination of genetics, social, and environmental factors that contribute to the risk of developing ADHD. It has not been proven that it is completely based on genetics, but just correlates and persists as a factor. Researchers have very little information about the factor that could lead into the development of ADHD. There are large amounts of research that needs to be done to create a full understanding of the development of this disorder. To make a complete discovery of the beginning of ADHD, they need more time and patient information to fully investigate and come up with a general answer to our questions.

ADHD is not somethings to brag about or dread; it is a real struggle for individuals who have this diagnosis. This disorder needs to be discussed and understood by communities and not viewed as lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, or defiant behavior. Those with ADHD struggle with understanding, concentration and focus and impulsive decisions. It is a diagnosed medical disorder that needs to be brought to attention so that help can be provided accordingly.

Feature photo courtesy of HowStuffWorks

In text photo courtesy of Olympia Therapy