Understanding ADHD this ADHD Awareness Month | NCFE

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Understanding ADHD this ADHD Awareness Month

Angie Rogers Angie Rogers Subject Specialist in Teaching and Learning at NCFE

October marks ADHD Awareness Month, which provides us with an opportunity to consider not only what we know about ADHD, but where we could learn a little more, so that we can be confident in both our understanding and provision of support where needed.

So, what is ADHD?

ADHD is an acronym that most people are familiar with, but they often don’t know what it stands for or what it means. So, let us start with the basics: ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Some might say this is a new phenomenon, but you’ll be surprised to know that way back in 1899, the philosopher William James detailed in his book Talks to Teachers how some individuals are naturally “scatter-brained”, and others are able to control their thoughts in a constructive way without the “temptation to swerve aside to other subjects”. William James noted these ways of thinking as ‘fields of consciousness.’  

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

Well, ADHD is a group of behavioural symptoms relating to a neurodevelopmental condition which may develop before birth or during early childhood. In the UK, ADHD may also be referred to as Hyperkinetic disorder. As ADHD falls under the umbrella of other neurodiverse conditions such as Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and others, it can often be challenging to recognise in the early years.

The main traits of ADHD are as follows:

  • Hyperactivity = fidgety, problems sleeping.
  • Inattention = disorganised, struggle to focus on tasks, forgetfulness.
  • Impulsivity = interrupting others, not understanding cues for conversation, speaking, or acting out without thinking.

In the early years, children may also develop sensory integration challenges within the environment, which may lead to dysregulation. Unfortunately, this can often lead to misdiagnoses of other behavioural issues – therefore, early intervention is required to support the child on the learning journey.

We can also find some statistics related to ADHD and other areas of need:

  • 1/2 with ADHD also have dyslexia
  • 1/2 with ADHD also have dyspraxia
  • 9/10 with Tourette’s have ADHD
  • 2/3 with ADHD display autistic spectrum traits.

Myths and facts

There are many common myths surrounding ADHD, some of which you may have previously heard. So let’s clarify the facts from the fiction:

Myth 1: Only boys have ADHD.

Fact: Although more boys have been diagnosed, 4.2% of girls have also been diagnosed.

Myth 2: ADHD is due to poor parenting.

Fact: ADHD develops from a range of environmental factors as well as genetic factors.

Myth 3: ADHD is an excuse for laziness.

Fact: No – ADHD is an issue with a chemical imbalance and is not under voluntary control.

Providing appropriate support 

So, during this month of ADHD awareness, take a moment and consider what must life be like for a child with ADHD. How would you support a child, young person, or adult with ADHD? And what professional support may they and their families need?

When providing support for individuals with ADHD, it’s important that you remember to:

  • Be warm and understanding, responsive and flexible to the needs of those with ADHD
  • Consider that ADHD makes them who they are – having the knowledge and understanding of their needs creates a positive vibe
  • Work in partnership with others, especially with parents and carers
  • And crucially, although strategies are useful, positive relationships are always going to be more important.

You can find out more about our work and how we’re involved in the early years and childcare sector here.

Being diagnosed with ADHD has helped me to understand more about myself.

Billy, aged 9

Now that my son has been diagnosed with ADHD his life has been turned around, he is now able to recognise and understand certain characteristics he has without being told he is just naughty.

Mother of Thomas, aged 19
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