Group For ADHD: Ask the Clinician
My child has just been diagnosed with ADHD. After consulting with the psychologist treating my child, I realize that I had many of the same difficulties growing up and still have many of the same issues. Can adults have ADHD?
ADHD is a developmental disorder of childhood that can be carried over into adulthood. About 1/3 of children with ADHD carry it into adulthood. A first diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood can happen due to several reasons. One reason may be either a lack of diagnoses or misdiagnoses in childhood. A second reason is that some children with ADHD are not identified because they are able to develop compensatory skills spontaneously. These spontaneous skills are not always useful for the adult, due to the increased challenges of adulthood. In such cases, adults begin to feel the effect of the ADHD disorder as it interferes with their ability to achieve increasingly complex goals. These goals include education, work and/or relationship skills.
It is important to remember that just because you recognize yourself in your child’s difficulties, doesn’t mean that you are impaired. Adult ADHD, like other disorders, is treated only when it seems to be detrimentally impacting the functioning level of the adult. Adults who have not been identified with ADHD as children, sometimes have learned to live with it and have adapted their lives around it to some level of success. When this has not occurred treatment is available.
What is the difference between having a Learning Disability and having ADHD?
Learning Disabilities (LD) is a disorder that interferes with one’s ability to process information in a particular pattern. Consequently, a person with a Learning Disability will have difficulties in a particular area such as reading, writing or math. Having a learning disability doesn’t mean that the child is unable to learn under different circumstances. It just means that the child is unable to process the information in the venue being used. For example, a child with a reading disability may not understand a story when he/she reads it silently; but if the story is read out loud to the child then he/she can comprehend it to a high level of age appropriate proficiency.
On the other hand, ADHD is a disorder that affects both selective and sustained attention. ADHD is an inability to block stimuli or to focus on only the relevant stimuli. However, unlike the Learning Disabilities, ADHD is not limited to affecting only one information-processing venue. When ADHD does interfere with learning, it does so across the board. ADHD does not always affect learning but always affects behavior through expressed behavior deregulation. By contrast, Learning Disabilities do not typically express themselves with difficulties controlling behavior.
Oftentimes the two different disorders are seen together. ADHD occurs more frequently than Learning Disabilities in the general population. A person with ADHD is more likely than the average person to have a Learning Disability. However a person with a Learning Disability is no more likely than the average person to have ADHD.#
Group for ADHD is a private mental health clinic in Manhattan, founded by Lenore Ruben, LMSW, CHT, EMDR, and Orly Calderon, Psy.D., a NYS licensed psychologist. The mission of Group For ADHD is to create effective methods of coping with ADHD and LD by focusing on the individual’s strengths. Please email your questions to: info@GroupForADHD.org.