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Think You Know ADHD When You See It?
A better understanding of ADHD informs us that boy, girls and adults manifest ADHD in unique ways.

Being able to diagnose ADHD by sight isn't as simple as it might seem.

It’s typical for children to be fidgety, to daydream, to forget to do homework, to act impulsively.”
Rightly or wrongly, many people believe they can identify an individual who has ADHD based on sight, misinformation, or stereotype. Although people with ADHD may share some characteristics, there are many qualities of ADHD that you might not be able to recognize or correctly interpret.

ADHD is a human condition and is as complex and individualized as… well, we humans are! Furthermore, it is likely to appear differently in children versus adults, as well as between genders. This has led to the misperception that ADHD is a childhood condition affecting boys. Here are some ways that ADHD manifests itself uniquely in individualized groups.

ADHD in Children

It’s typical for children to be fidgety, to daydream, to forget to do homework, to act impulsively. A child exhibiting of one or more of these traits does not necessarily have ADHD. However, a child with ADHD will express characteristics of the condition across the spectrum of their lives: at school, at home, and at play. Those components are entirely directed by ADHD symptoms which are predominant in the child.

The three primary characteristics of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. Multiple combinations of these three traits can be found in children with ADHD. For example, kids with ADHD can be:

* impulsive and hyperactive, but able to pay attention.
* inattentive, but not hyperactive or impulsive
* hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive

Because these combinations are unique to the child, we can’t simply assume that a child has ADHD because of what we see or think we observe in a child’s behavior and actions.

ADHD in Boys

ADHD impacts genders differently and therefore the symptoms that boys and girls with ADHD show vary. Boys with ADHD tend to behave in ways that parents, teachers, or other authoritative figures cannot ignore. This overt behavior is one reason why easier to identify in boys --- often don’t apply to girls who tend to exhibit more of the inattentive features of ADHD. Whereas a boy with ADHD may blurt out answers in class, boys with ADHD are three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls, and the reason why boys are diagnosed at younger ages.

Boys with ADHD are more likely to act out, disrupt and interrupt others, struggle with focus, and be easily distracted.

ADHD in Girls

Girls that are socialized to be "pleasers," and to be less defiant and rebellious than boys, which can make it harder to identify ADHD traits in them. The usual, stereotypical characteristics associated with ADHD are the same features a girl may express her ADHD; by talking excessively yet have that behavior dismissed as being simply "chatty" or "talkative."

Girls are more likely to suffer from inattentive ADHD, meaning they tend to exhibit "quieter" symptoms of ADHD such as:

* limited attention span
* failure to finish assigned activities
* forgetfulness
* distractibility
* poor attention to detail

While boys on average are diagnosed with ADHD by age 7, girls get diagnosed on average five years later. Over 75% of girls with ADHD go undiagnosed because many people don’t "see" ADHD’s stereotypical qualities in girls.

ADHD in Adults

Unlike ADHD in children, which can sometimes be easier to identify, ADHD in adults appears in more subtle ways. Through a lack of education and research in the 1980s and 1990s, people considered ADHD strictly a childhood condition, and many adults who had ADHD were written off as being lazy, unintelligent, or unmotivated. In actuality, adults with ADHD do exhibit symptoms of the condition, but in less obvious ways than children do.

Adults tend to internalize symptoms and may have developed coping mechanisms because of social situations and maturity levels. Unlike an ADHD child who may express hyperactivity by running around, an ADHD adult’s hyperactivity may take the form of frequent posture readjustment, tapping of feet or fingers, or pacing.

ADHD may be revealed in adults through:

* fidgeting
* marital difficulties
* trouble advancing at work or in a career
* difficulty with executive functions, such as organizing and planning
* depression

ADHD is not a condition that can be diagnosed on sight or through assumption. It impacts ages and genders in very different ways so that stereotypes both cannot and should not be applied to any individual diagnosed with it.

Mark Julian is a Certified Coach; Business Counselor, Author and ADHD Specialist serving startup and veteran business-persons with ADD related challenges. He provides mentoring and results-driven coaching to today’s new-breed of business builders! Mark’s a member of the ICF, CHADD and is an accredited Edge Foundation Coach. Mark’s office is located at the George Mason University Small Business Development Center where he’s provided guidance to business owners since 2010. For more information visit www.clearviewcoach.com.

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