Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Depending on who you ask, an ADHD diagnosis could be received as either an enlightening parting of the clouds that helps a person understand their own or their child’s struggles, or a squishy, throw-away term used to medicalize normal differences in attention and maturity that our schools and other institutions don’t know how to deal with.
ADHD is a real disorder and most people will concede that there are inborn differences in attention, concentration, and impulse control. ADHD, in fact, can be better thought of as a disorder affecting “budgeting” or allocation of attention, rather than a deficit in actual attentional capacity. In some cases, these differences can lead to significant difficulty in school, work, and home settings. Research is still inconclusive on how much these attentional differences are due to genetics that run in families or environmental factors that affect brain development in early childhood. Either way, there are definitely people who have ADHD and who, no matter the effort or drive, will be at a disadvantage in some settings compared with those people without ADHD.
That said, there are often many other subtle emotional or even physical processes that can give off feelings and behaviors that look a lot like ADHD, but are other conditions entirely. These related issues include anxiety and worries, avoidance, subtle dissociation, trauma, depression, learning disabilities, hearing loss and more. There are many instances when one or more of these can masquerade as ADHD, leading to a misdiagnosis and misdirected treatment.
To muddy the waters further, when it is present, more often than not - as best we can tell - ADHD seems to be accompanied by one or more other mental health conditions. It makes sense that after years of feeling ashamed and like a failure in school or work, being “that kid” that all the teachers and parents know in a negative light, or just being called lazy by society, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, avoidance, or just a realignment of priorities and values can occur. Something that looks simple on the surface is actually a complicated intertwined set of factors that lead to distractibility, impulsivity, and exasperation. Clearly, ADHD is something that we need to pay attention to and treat.
I specialize in the diagnosis of and treatment of ADHD. Services that I provide for people with ADHD include assessment, diagnosis, individual therapy, parenting consultation, and the GOALS group. It is my goal to present a safe and accepting place for you or your child to learn if ADHD is present and to create an appropriate treatment plan to alleviate the struggles facing your family.