Up until the mid 1980's, it was widely believed by physicians and psychologists that ADHD was outgrown by the time a child hit adolescence.


Though many clinicians still hold on to this belief, it is now accepted by many in the medical community that childhood ADHD does indeed continue into adulthood. As a matter of fact, the DSM-IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, describes just that.

Hyper Henry Hawkins in 4th grade, who was unable to sit still in Mrs. Jones' homeroom, became Mr. Hawkins, who at age 35, is unable to sit through business meetings. His legs kick under the table while his eyes dart around at the different posters on the wall. The doodles on his notepaper keep his fingers busy. And...he doesn't hear a word the presenter is saying.

Yes, ADHD is alive and well, living in adult bodies.

It is estimated that between 5-7%- or more- of all children suffer from attention deficit disorder. But what happens when these children grow up? Some are lucky enough to have learned to compensate for their poor attention span, impulsivity and distractibility by finding a good career match. Others married spouses who have been able to help structure their home lives.

And yet others are still struggling, trying to figure out why they cannot seem to work up to their potential. Worse, many adults with undiagnosed ADHD find themselves living a life of shame, poor self esteem, and worse.

All adults have some symptoms of ADHD. Some of these are:
Difficulty staying on task
Having many projects going on at one time and rarely completing any of them
Difficulty falling asleep and difficulty waking up

...but when an adult has a significant amount of symptoms that impair his daily living, then he may indeed have attention deficit disorder.

Read, read...and read some more. ADHD can mimic other disorders, like depression, anxiety, and some medical problems like hypothyroidism. And ADHD can co-exist with other disorders. If after your reading you still wonder if you may, indeed, have ADHD, then you may want to consider going for an evaluation.

First, check with your medical doctor to make sure you aren't having ADHD symptoms due to a medical problem. Talk to him/her about the possibility of ADHD. Chances are, he may not know enough about it to offer a diagnosis. Therefore, consider going to a mental health clinician who has done extensive work with adult ADHD.

There are two major organizations that focus on ADHD.

National ADDA (National Attention Deficit Disorder Assoc.) can help you get the information you need. Their focus is on supporting and educating young adults, adults and families with ADHD.

CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD) is another excellent resource. Both organizations can point you in the right direction for helping you find an ADHD specialist. Also, consider contacting your closest teaching hospital and see if they have an ADHD clinic. If not, check with their department of psychology or psychiatry for names of clinicians in your area.

There is also a list of ADD clinicians at www.addconsults.com

Find a support group! Read some more about this disorder! ADHD is certainly not a death sentence. Treatment can be very successful. Some people go through a period of sadness, even depression, thinking about the "lost years" of not knowing what it was that stopped them from moving ahead in life. Others are ecstatic that they now have the answer to what had been a roadblock for them.

For many, short term counseling is very helpful in putting things in perspective. One may need to go through a process of grieving, even, to get to the point of then moving ahead.

ADHD Coaching, too, is a wonderful way to help an ADHD adult get on track with their daily lives.

Many benefit from medications that help a person to attend, concentrate, and stay focused. Many of my clients, once treated for their ADHD, are astounded that they can read an entire book for the first time in their lives.

For all the Hyper Henrys in this world, there is hope!

Author's Bio: 

Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW Terry is a psychotherapist, writer and consultant specializing in ADHD in adults, with a special focus on women with ADHD. She is the author of the book, "Survival Tips for Women with ADHD" (2005 Specialty Press) and is the founder/director of MomsWithADD.com and ADDConsults.com. Terry also founded the social networking site, WomenWithADHD.com.

She is the former Vice President and a board member of ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Assoc: www.add.org ) and is immediate past Coordinator of E. Oakland County CHADD (Michigan)- chadd.org. She also was an in-house writer/expert at HealthCentral.com.

Terry is the founder and moderator of the first internet mailing list for ADD professionals and is also an active member of the Michigan Adolescent and Adult ADD Network for Professionals (MAAAN).

Terry is certified through the Institute for the Advancement of ADHD Coaching as a Senior Certified Coach (SCAC) and runs online group coaching groups at ADDactionclub.com. She is also a community leader at the ADHD Allies Community on Facebook.
A nationally recognized speaker on the topic, Terry has a passion for raising awareness of the special challenges for women with ADHD and the unique issues they face as parents when both they and their children have ADHD. Her professional interests also include advocating for children with special needs.

Terry received a B.A. in Art Education, a M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and studied painting at the Art Students League in NYC. She is licensed to practice in Michigan and New York.

Married with 2 young adult children (one of whom has ADHD) Terry also has ADHD herself. In her spare time she likes to paint (and has shown her work extensively), play guitar and various other instruments, read and spend time with her family.