Elizabeth Spongr ( Elizabeth Spongr )
When people think of ADHD, the first image that comes to mind is that of a squirming child sitting in an elementary school classroom, struggling to keep still. And while this stereotype of ADHD does exist, there are many more forms of ADHD and ways that it is expressed.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a mental disorder caused by a dopamine deficiency in the brain. ADHD is rooted in genetics. According to a 2008 study titled “Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder and reward deficiency syndrome”, “People with ADHD have at least one defective gene, the DRD2 gene that makes it difficult for neurons to respond to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is involved in feelings of pleasure and the regulation of attention.”(Blum et al) As a result, the baseline dopamine level of someone with ADHD is lower than that of someone without it. Consequently, the brain switches focus frequently, looking for sources of dopamine to satisfy its needs. This can manifest itself in many different forms.
Types of ADHD There are three types of ADHD - the first and most commonly recognized type of ADHD is Hyperactive/Impulsive type. This is the type that the image of the little child has. It manifests in behaviors such as impulsivity, fidgeting, squirming, interrupting, talking too much, and talking out of turn.
The second type of ADHD, formerly called ADD, is Inattentive type. This type is more often diagnosed in adults and has symptoms like difficulty sustaining attention, a weak working memory, difficulty with organization and following detailed instructions, and easily distracted by external stimuli.
The third type of ADHD is combined type, which has symptoms of both hyperactive and inattentive type. This is the most commonly diagnosed form of ADHD.
Impact on Social Life
As from the symptoms mentioned above, it is clear as to why ADHD impacts socialization. Social life begins as a child, in school, and can impact someone for their entire life. Children in school with ADHD often struggle to make friends and are rejected by their peers.
Their peers may find someone with hyperactive type loud and obnoxious, or someone with inattentive type spacey and disinterested, despite the fact that these are the results of a disorder that the child can not control. This rejection results in lack of exposure to certain social cues, making it difficult for the ADHDer to communicate with others. It can also impact the child’s self esteem, destroying their confidence in social situations and their view of themselves.
These feelings will continue to be impactful on a child as they grow up, and may affect them as teens. As a teenager, someone with ADHD might have poor time management skills, difficulty with emotional regulation, and struggles with inattention, all of which may result in social isolation. Although ADHD is stereotyped as a child’s disorder, children with ADHD grow up and become adults with ADHD, which can affect their work and social lives significantly. Adults with ADHD can struggle with time management, procrastination, and starting and finishing tasks. They might have difficulties making new friends due to their undernourished social skills from early on in life and it may be difficult to maintain old friendships.
ADHD - Not Bad, Just Different
Having or knowing someone with ADHD can be difficult. People like to stereotype and judge others, just because their brain works differently. But that’s all it is - an ADHD brain is not inherently good or bad, it’s just different. Also, since people with ADHD can pivot easily from one task to the next, people with ADHD should recognize ADHD as their superpower. As a society, we should embrace all of the beauties of an individual rather than critique someone. Remember that people may be struggling with more than they let on - save the prejudice and give them a chance.