Reviewed by Aaron Horn, LMFT
ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is extremely common, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the numbers in recent years have been on the rise. Even though we see many cases of ADHD, especially in classrooms, this doesn’t mean that it is always understood. In fact,ADHD is commonly misunderstood by teachers, parents, and others without ADHD because the disorderis not so cut and dry. Many children are also incorrectly diagnosed with other conditions and therefore do not receive the proper treatment they need.
Each case of ADHD differs;it doesn’t look the same for every individual. There are different types of ADHD, and each varies in severity. A person may fall under one subtype or a combination of subtypes. Understanding the subtypes of ADHD can help parents, teachers, and even spouses of those with ADHD recognize how they can best help those with ADHD.
One way to better understand a person with ADHD is to look for an ADHD simulation. ADHD simulations can be extremely helpful for understanding the way someone’s brain works. If you don’t have ADHD yourself, it’s incredibly difficult to fully understand or know what someone with the condition is experiencing. However, if you’re willing and able to go through a simulation, you can come closer to seeing what those with ADHD go through on a regular basis.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a mental health condition that affects both children and adults. A person with ADHD has a neurodevelopmental disorder and it is treated as a medical condition. Normally, it is diagnosed in one’s childhood and affects more males than females, though sometimes it isn’t recognized or diagnosed until adulthood. Although ADHD looks different from person to person, there are some common symptoms of the disorder. Keep in mind that there are various types of ADHD, which also affect which symptoms present themselves. Still, some possible symptoms include:
- Making hasty mistakes
- Trouble with waiting their turn or being patient
- Having difficulty concentrating at home, work, or school
- Talking a lot
- Fidgeting or being otherwise restless
- Interrupting others in conversation
- Losing important items
- Forgetting to accomplish everyday tasks, or only completing tasks partially
- Doesn’t complete their work at school, work, etc.
- Has difficulty listening to others speaking
- Easily distracted
Usually, ADHD will affect an individual in more than one area of their life. They may have trouble staying employed, forget to pay their bills at home, and neglect to do their homework at school, for example, though these are just examples and certainly aren’t always the case. Some may struggle more with everyday tasks like remembering to finish the laundry, eating regularly, or becoming easily distracted from work. Some individuals will have more severe cases of ADHD while others will be less affected.
What Causes ADHD?
Although there has been plenty of research and studies done, scientists have yet to determine an exact cause of ADHD. There are, however, some theories. Some evidence may show that genes contribute to the disorder since 3 out of 4 individuals with the condition have a family member who also has it. Being born prematurely or having a significant brain injury could also be a factor. If the mother smoked, drank alcohol, or experienced severe stress during pregnancy, there is a chance it could have contributed to the child developing ADHD. If the child grew up in an environment with toxins present, such as lead, it could affect their development and behavior. Again, these are just theories and more in-depth studies are required.
There are plenty of myths surrounding the development of ADHD as well. However, there is no evidence that ADHD is caused by allergies, vaccinations, or consuming too much sugar or food additives. Although the exact cause may be unknown, there are plenty of treatment options available for those who have it.
Several different types of ADHD exist, each with their own symptoms. Psychologist Dr. Daniel Amen has further divided those into seven subtypes. These include classic ADHD, over-focused ADHD, inattentive ADHD, limbic ADHD, temporal lobe ADHD, ring-of-fire ADHD, and anxious ADHD.
- Classic ADHD
First, Dr. Amen talks about classic ADHD, which is the category that most people believe they fall into. Classic ADHD is the standard type of ADHD, where inattentiveness and hyperactivity are the most obvious symptoms. Other signs include disorganization, distractibility, and impulsiveness. This is due to low levels of dopamine and decreased blood flow in the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum. The treatment goal for this type of ADHD is to increase dopamine levels. This can be done through stimulant medications, stimulant supplementation, exercise, and even increasing omega-3 fatty acids.
- Over-Focused ADHD
It is common for people with ADHD to show symptoms of hyper-focus. Hyper-focused individuals might fall under the over-focused ADHD subtype. People with this type of ADHD often have trouble shifting their thoughts and have tendencies towards worry and obsession. They may get stuck in negative thought patterns and have trouble changing tasks. This is due to lower levels of both dopamine and serotonin. Supplements that increase serotonin and dopamine are recommended, such as 5HTP and L-tryptophan. Stimulants are not recommended since they may increase levels of anxiety.
- Inattentive ADHD
Another common subtype of ADHD is inattentive ADHD. People with inattentive ADHD have a hard time keeping their attention, but they are not typically seen as hyperactive. These people are usually seen as daydreamers and tend to be more introverted. They are less impulsive and usually procrastinate quite a bit. The recommended treatment for inattentive ADHD is similar to classic ADHD, using stimulants and supplements to raise dopamine levels.
- Limbic ADHD
This type of ADHD is associated with low levels of chronic sadness. Chronic depression is different from those with limbic ADHD, but the person may have feelings of unworthiness and hopelessness. They are likely to be moody, have low energy, low self-esteem, and may struggle with guilt. The reason for these symptoms is increased activity in the limbic area of the brain. Supplements can help treat this type of ADHD as well as exercise, anti-depressants, fish oil, and changes to one’s diet.
- Temporal Lobe ADHD
This type of ADHD is associated with all of the symptoms of classic ADHD, plus aggression, anger issues, and mood instability. The individual might display behavioral issues, paranoia, and have trouble with memory and learning. This is due to irregularities in the temporal lobe, which can cause unpredictability in the nerve cells. People with this type of ADHD may react to GABA supplements and a diet low in carbohydrates.
- Ring Of Fire ADHD
This type of ADHD is associated with extreme sensitivity due to an overactive brain. The person will have symptoms of classic ADHD combined with sensitivity to noise, touch, and light. It may be accompanied with anxiety and fear. Certain supplements can help this, but food sensitivities may be present as well. An elimination diet may provide benefits.
- Anxious ADHD
People in this category often have symptoms of classic ADHD, combined with feelings of tension andanxiety. They may have physical symptoms like stomachaches, headaches, and rapid breathing. They’re prone to assume the worst and become tense in high-stress environments. This is due to an increase of activity in their basil ganglia, which differs from most of the other types of ADHD. Treatment involves increasing levels of dopamine and GABA through supplements and medications that help to calm the person.
For anyone who has ADHD, it is important to have an understanding of how their own brain works. For example, the person may recognize that they are easily distracted, but they may not see that they’re also experiencing symptoms of anxiety due to hyperactivity. A therapist or counselor may assist the person in gaining a better understanding of themselves.
What Is ADHD Simulation?
Parents of children with ADHD may face a challenge in trying to understand the needs of their child. Many therapists and counselors suggest that parents experience ADHDsimulation. These simulations can be helpful for the loved ones of adults with ADHD as well.
An ADHD simulation can be an excellent way to understand ways in which the ADHD brain works. However, the greatest benefit of doing an ADHD simulation is to gain a better understanding of what the person with ADHD is experiencing. Counselors and therapists benefit from this as well, and chances are, many have access to these simulations for you to try.
There are different ADHD simulations available online. These simulations can help you to see what the person is seeing and experiencing. A video will pull up, and as the videos start, several voices will interrupt, representing the person’s thoughts. Seeing the videos helps to paint a clearer picture of an ADHD brain. You may talk to your counselor or therapist about accessing an ADHD simulation video, or you can look some up yourself.
One highly regarded ADHD simulation online is called “Through Your Child’s Eyes.” When you go to the site, you get to hear stories from children speaking about their experiences with ADHD. When the simulation starts, you will experience on screen the way that a child with ADHD might see and hear things.
The great thing about “Through Your Child’s Eyes” is that you can choose the grade level and select the specific issues in school that your child deals with. Since there are so many types of ADHD, the ability to choose from certain issues is extremely helpful.
Hearing the stories from other children with ADHD can be extremely beneficial. It helps the child and the parent see that they are not alone. Even though ADHD is common, a child with ADHD may still feel like they stand out in class. It can bring a huge relief, both to the parent and the child, to hear other children speak about having a similar experience.
Another great site to visit is PBS’s “Misunderstood Minds.” “Misunderstood Minds” is a module similar to “Through Your Child’s Eyes.” The module is organized for you to find the categories of challenge for your child, gain some information, and then open up the ADHD simulation to better understand the way that your child’s brain is functioning.
The categories in “Misunderstood Minds” include attention, reading, writing, and math. Within each category includes information about the basics, a further look into difficulties, and personal stories from parents who have had challenges in deciding how to support their ADHD child. Within each section, there is a response category, where more of these personal stories can be found.
Further Support For ADHD
There are other disorders that can have similar symptoms as ADHD, such as dyslexia and auditory disorders. You can start by taking an online test to understand your symptoms. Once you have done the online test, finding further support through a counselor or therapist can be beneficial.
Having support is important for someone with ADHD. A professional will be better at pinpointing the person’s subtype, which is vital to know in order to receive the right treatment. Even if a parent does not want to medicate their child, there are many other ways to treat ADHD. Certain supplements can be just as effective. Also, exercise can be extremely beneficial to anyone with ADHD, no matter the subtype.Begin by speaking to a professional for guidance. Once you know the specifics, you can decide which ADHD simulation to choose and explore.
Getting Further Assistance
ADHD often lingers into adulthood to some degree. Many adults are calmer than they were as children, but likely will continue to experience symptoms. Some people go through their entire childhood without being diagnosed but begin seeking treatment once they enter the job world.If you have ADHD or suspect that you may have it, getting help is important. In addition, if you have a loved one such as a child who has the condition, you may need support yourself as you help them through it. This is where BetterHelp can be of assistance.
BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that assists people with a variety of issues they may be experiencing, including those related to ADHD. Within 24 hours of signing up on the website, you’ll be matched with a therapist who is equipped to help you. They’ll work with you to come up with a solid treatment plan if needed. They can also act as a listening ear and be a shoulder to lean on whenever you need it. You’ll be able to connect with your therapist at any time throughout the day or night just by using a smart device. BetterHelp makes accessing care more affordable, easy, and convenient. Whether you’re going through something yourself or need support as you’re helping someone in your life, no problem is too big or small for a therapist to make a difference. Reach out today to get started.