Ever wondered why your concentration or that of your child is so poor? Back in university, I would go to the library to study, for exams, because catch me dead any other day, and I would never last 30 minutes!! My study partner would wonder why I’m not taking my education seriously and I told her that I was having a hard time concentrating. So one day, she goes,
“Kwani uko na ADHD?”
“Sasa hio ndio nini?” I ask curiously.
“Ile ugonjwa ya kupay attention” she says matter of factly.
I looked at her funny and ignored her but I certainly looked it up. I know I was just playing too much with masomo and I didn’t have ADHD. Or did I?
So what is ADHD?
ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is a mental health disorder that is neurodevelopmental. It affects a person’s nervous system development and often begins in childhood and can last into adulthood.
People with ADHD have trouble paying attention, are overly active or impulsive and are easily distracted. It is a common and highly misdiagnosed mental disorder that can go undetected.
Due to its nature, it may also contribute to issues such as low self-esteem, troubled intrapersonal and/or interpersonal relationship, anger management, antisocial behavior and difficulty at school or work.
According to Dynamic Occupational Therapy, a company that deals with occupational therapy in Nairobi, says that “a study done by several clinicians in Kenya showed that cases of ADHD have increased from 18% to 45%. The study involved doing a variety of tests including the Vanderbilt Assessment Scale on children taken to hospital by their parents. From the study, the main reasons highlighted that brought the children and/or adolescents to the hospital were:
- School Demands and failures
- Aggression and violence behavior
- Gustatory problems – constipation
- High risk behaviors in Pre-adolescents and Adolescents.”
Studies also show that ADHD occurs more often in males than in females. Symptoms may start to show as early as 3 years or just before age 12. There are three major types of ADHD which are characterized by different signs and symptoms. They include;
Hyperactive- impulsive ADHD
A person with this type of ADHD experiences predominant symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. E.g. when someone talks constantly, are impatient, have difficulty sitting still, are fidgety and restless, touch and play with objects esp. in inappropriate situations, blurt our answers and inappropriate comments etc.
A person with this type of ADHD experiences more symptoms of inattention than those of hyperactivity and impulsivity. One may have difficulty retaining information, short attention span, have trouble listening to others, are easily distracted, get bored quickly and have trouble processing information.
A person with this type of ADHD exhibits both symptoms of inattention and impulsive-hyperactive and does not exclusively fall in any of the two types of ADHD. It is the most common type of ADHD that most children have.
So what are the symptoms that you or a loved one may have ADHD?
Difficulty focusing on a task
This can be as a result of getting bored quickly especially when doing things which do not align with one’s interests or preferences. A person with ADHD gets easily distracted and shifts attention to something else rather than one specific thing at hand. One may become distracted by things such as sounds and sights which are unrelated to a task they are working on. Setting timers and doing one thing at a time may improve a person’s attention.
Often entails acting without thinking first. It is one of the symptoms of ADHD which is likely to continue into a person’s adulthood. A person with impulsiveness has trouble waiting for his turn when in line or when waiting for a turn to speak. In children, this symptom can be exhibited in some features, for example when playing, where one often disturbs others who are playing without necessarily having the intention of joining the game.
This is a common symptom in people with ADHD. Although it is human nature to forget, it is more rampant and severe in people with ADHD. Forgetfulness can disrupt an individual’s relationship because one tends to forget about important events and dates. For children frequently losing toys, forgetting to do chores, and forgetting where they put something, may be exhibited. One may adopt memory exercises or use reminders and calendars to tackle forgetfulness.
Poor time management skills
This can be as a result of poor planning. This symptom is characterized by features like, failing to prioritize tasks, missing set deadline on various things and the tendency of being late to events or meetings.
A person with ADHD has difficulty in mood regulation. As result, one will have sudden outbursts of emotions when triggered. People with ADHD tend to be in touch with their emotions and are also sensitive. Therefore, one can easily crack even on the slightest provocation or exposure to triggers.
This is where a person with ADHD can interrupt and even blurt out inappropriate comments in a conversational environment. They also tend to interrupt and jump in to discussions when not necessary and don’t think about the repercussions that may occur.
People with ADHD are mostly fidgety, and cannot sit still. They always seem to be restless and are constantly on the go. They also have trouble engaging in quiet activities.
Like most mental health disorders, there are different types of treatment for ADHD.
- Behavior therapy- this is recommended especially for your children below the age of 6. Through this, they are able to strengthen and learn about positive behaviors and eliminate disruptive behaviors. Behavior therapy works well with not so severe cases.
- Medication- this is recommended together with behavior therapy especially in more severe cases. Stimulants are mostly used to help control their behavior.
Despite these symptoms, many people live their lives without realizing they have ADHD. Your annoying friend from work who has no boundaries and always jumps into others people’s conversations might actually have ADHD. Your forgetfulness and poor attention span might also be ADHD. Go for an assessment. Hehe…But all in all, people living with ADHD are able to lead a long, healthy and successful life.
Do you have ADHD, share your story with us!!