You who have ADHD may have difficulty concentrating and performing in certain situations or environments. You can have trouble keeping things organized around you and getting things done. There is help to get in order for everyday life to work better if you have ADHD.
This text is about ADHD in children and adults. There is a special chapter with advice for you who is the parent of a child with ADHD.
If you are between 13 and 25 can read about ADHD on UMO.se.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a so-called neuropsychiatric disability. It affects your ability to concentrate, control and control your behavior. It can also affect how active or intense you are as a person.
ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence, but with how the brain and nervous system work.
The difficulties usually arise in certain situations or environments. For example, you may find it difficult to focus and keep your attention on what you should do if it is messy or messy around you, or if the task does not feel motivated to you.
Difficulties but also strengths
Having ADHD does not mean that you are ill, but that you function in a different way than is usually expected in society. For example, you may have difficulty sitting still for a long time, listening to long lectures or getting started with a task.
Feeling that you sometimes do not work or perform as others can negatively affect your self-esteem, and affect your emotional life and mental health.
Because of the difficulties you have called ADHD for a disability, even if your way of being can also mean strengths that others may not have. Therefore, if you prefer, you can call it a function variation.
Why is it called ADHD?
A – attention
D – deficit (deficiency)
H – hyperactivity
D – disorder
ADHD means attention and overactivity disorder. But not everyone with these problems is clearly overactive. If you mainly have attention problems, it can instead be a form of ADHD called add. Then your difficulties can often be less visible to the surroundings, which often means that it is delayed before you get an investigation and diagnosis.
Different forms of ADHD
There are three different forms of ADHD. Sometimes you can have more than one shape.
- Combined form – You have difficulty focusing and retaining your attention, managing impulses and being overactive. It is the most common form of ADHD.
- Mainly inattentive form – Above all, you find it difficult to focus and keep your attention, but may also have problems with overactivity and coping with impulses. This form of ADHD is often called add.
- Mainly hyperactive-impulsive form – Above all, you have difficulty managing impulses and are overactive. You may also have some attention problems. This form is more uncommon than the other two and is most common in preschool children.
How does it feel that someone has ADHD?
You who have ADHD or add can recognize you in several of these descriptions:
- You have many thoughts and ideas in mind at the same time.
- You have difficulty getting started with tasks, and difficult to finish them.
- You have a hard time following long instructions.
- You may have difficulty keeping order around you.
- You may have difficulty adjusting times.
- You often forget or lose things.
- It is common for you to postpone what you should do until it is too late.
Sometimes you can also recognize one of the following:
- You find it difficult to write or read.
- You can do things without thinking before.
- You have a great need to move around or feel internal anxiety.
- You may have difficulty regulating your mood.
It is common for you to have trouble sleeping. It can make you turn around the clock, have a hard time getting up in the morning and sleep at night.
Although there are some typical difficulties with ADHD, it can vary how you are affected depending on the environment and what requirements are placed on you.
For the diagnosis of ADHD to be fulfilled, the following is required:
- that the difficulties have existed for a long time
- that the difficulties cause major problems to cope with everyday life
- that the difficulties cannot be explained better by something else
- that the difficulties are felt in at least two environments, for example, both at home and at work or in school and at leisure.
Other contemporary diagnoses are common
It is also common to have dyslexia or other learning disabilities or an autism spectrum diagnosis. Language and speech disorders or so-called defiant syndrome are also commonly associated with ADHD. You may also have some form of Tics such as Tourette’s syndrome.
Another diagnosis that is sometimes associated with ADHD is impaired coordination or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). This means that you have difficulty coordinating certain movements. Things that may be needed in, for example, team sports or when learning bicycling or driving a car. In the past, this was also called dyspraxia.
There are support and assistance to get to ADHD. It is important to receive help, otherwise, the difficulties can easily lead to low self-esteem and other problems such as anxiety, depression or abuse.
When and where should I seek care?
Seek help if you or your child have major difficulties in everyday life that you suspect is due to ADHD. To get the support and help you or your child need, you may first need to do an investigation.
Seek help for your own part
If you are over 18, you should contact a health care center or a psychiatric ward to get an initial assessment. You can contact many receptions by logging in.
If you are under 18, you can contact the health center, student health if you go to school or children and adolescent psychiatry, bup. You can also contact someone working at a youth clinic.
Seek help for anyone under 18
You can seek care in several places if it is a child or teenager:
- childcare center, bvc – for children up to 5 years
- pediatric surgery or medical center
- child and adolescent psychiatry, bup.
You can contact Bup directly or get a referral from the health center. Then you can get an initial assessment, and then possibly an investigation of the child begins.
What does an investigation mean?
Going through a neuropsychiatric investigation as an adult means that you meet a doctor and a psychologist on several occasions and get to do several interviews and tests. It also happens that an educator, socio-physician, physiotherapist or occupational therapist is included in the investigation.
When the investigation is complete you will receive information about the result and what help, support or treatment you can get. It may be good to have a close relative with you during the closing call. Read more about how an investigation is done.
Investigation of children involves more people
An investigation means that you and your child meet a doctor who asks questions. Here are some examples of questions you can answer:
- How has the child developed? When did the child learn to walk and talk?
- What strengths and difficulties does the child have?
- Does the child have any problems with sleep or with food and eating?
- How does the child work with other children?
- Is there anyone else in the family who has similar difficulties?
In addition to you and the child being interviewed, the staff at the school or preschool also help describe how the child works in the preschool or school.
When the investigation is complete, you as a parent will receive information about what has emerged and what support the child needs. The child also receives information, adapted to the child’s age and maturity. Then it is good if the school is informed at a special meeting.
Getting a diagnosis
It is different how it feels to get a diagnosis. It can feel both nice and hard. For example, it may be nice to get a name for the difficulties you or your child have, and it can increase your understanding of the surroundings. At the same time, it can feel heavy to know that the difficulties you or your child have actually are due to something that will not just disappear by itself.
The more you learn about ADHD, the easier it is to accept the situation. Knowledge often makes it easier for you to see opportunities instead of just difficulties. Finding out how you work can help you accept yourself.
What can I get for help?
The most important thing for yourself and for others is knowledge. Understanding how you work. By learning more about ADHD, you can understand more about why you have some difficulties and learn about others and find ways to deal with the difficulties of everyday life.
To get help with this, you may need to talk to someone who has experience and knowledge. You can start by asking for more time with the person who did the investigation. You can also have great help by talking to someone working on habilitation.
Habilitation offers support for those with a disability. The goal of habilitation is to be able to be as independent as possible and to feel that you have the opportunity to influence your life.
The habilitation can be organized in different ways in different places in the country, depending on the region you live in. Often there is a habilitation for children and adolescents, the child and youth habilitation, and one for adults over 18 years.
Adaptation of studies or work
It may be important that your schooling or work situation is adapted so that it works for you. It is the responsibility of the school or employer to customize the environment so that it works for you.
According to the law, children are entitled to an individual school plan if they need it. This applies regardless of which school or class the child attends. It is the school’s responsibility to adapt the teaching so that all students receive equal teaching.
The adaptation may, for example, involve giving the child extra time for certain tasks, working in a smaller group or getting a support teacher or assistant who is in school. The child should receive help with dyslexia or other problems with learning. Some may find it helpful to meet a speech therapist at a speech therapist reception.
Adult education and studies
Many adults with ADHD have had problems in school and therefore have not been able to educate themselves in line with their capacity. There are special public colleges for people with neuropsychiatric disabilities such as ADHD if you want to study again. Komvux can also be an alternative.
You can often need help structuring and planning your studies. Colleges and universities often have a coordinator whose job is to support those with ADHD or other disabilities.
It may be that you can spend more time on an exam, or oral instead of a written examination or access to a mentor.
You may need help structuring your work tasks and organizing your everyday life at work. There are tools for organizing everyday life if you have ADHD. It can be weekly schedules or apps on the mobile phone with a calendar function that give a signal when you need to do something.
You can get help by contacting an occupational therapist or a help center, for example on habilitation. Read more about how it is possible to get aids and find out what aids are available where you live.
Treatment for ADHD with drugs
Both children and adults can sometimes benefit from drugs in addition to other help. It can make it easier to concentrate and focus on a task, and reduce restlessness and impulsivity.
Medication can help
The most common drugs are those called central stimulants. They contain active substance methylphenidate. Examples of such drugs are Concerta and Ritalin.
There are also drugs that contain dexamphetamine or lisdexamfetamine such as Elvanse and Attention. Central stimulants can be used from the age of 6 years.
Another active substance is atomoxetine, which is found in the drug Strattera. It is not a stimulant.
No risk of addiction
There is no known risk of becoming dependent on drugs when used as a treatment for ADHD. Central stimulants are classified as drugs, but the treatment dose for ADHD does not produce addiction or intoxication.
When children receive drugs, it must be combined with other support, such as information and advice to parents and extra support in school. At the beginning of the drug treatment, the child may undergo close checks. Thereafter, at least every six months, and also if the dose changes.
It is common for parents to feel that the child does not always need to take the drug, but can take breaks on holidays and weekends, for example. It is good if you as a parent talk to the doctor about your stay, to discuss the advantages and disadvantages. Pay attention to how it works during the planned breaks.
What does ADHD depend on?
The brain works differently
ADHD is because some parts of the brain work differently than people without ADHD. Among other things, there is a difference in the part of the brain that allows you to intentionally direct your attention, your impulses and reactions and the ability to hold several things in your head at the same time. These functions are important for a person’s ability to control and plan their actions and regulate their emotions.
Signal substances are important
It is only partially known what ADHD is due to, but it has to do with certain so-called signal substances in a part of the brain. They are needed for different neurons in the brain to communicate with each other.
Some signal substances that are important for communication are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters may work differently for you if you have ADHD.
Both heredity and the environment affect
It is common for many in a family or family to have similar difficulties. In most cases, heredity is the most important factor, but other biological and psychosocial environmental factors can also be affected.
This means that both inheritance and the environment affect how and how strongly the problems with ADHD appear.
Being the parent of a child with ADHD
Children are different. Some are lively and others quieter. How children develop and mature also differs. ADHD can be a reason why the child has difficulty controlling himself. Problems with attention, impulse control, and overactivity are often noticed only when the child starts in preschool or school. It places higher demands on behavior, learning, and performance.
Being able to control one’s behavior and not immediately follow one’s impulses is important to be able to work with others and develop their independence. It can create frustration and conflict when someone cannot.
Outbreaks and conflicts
Constantly conflicting with others can affect the child’s self-esteem. Therefore, it is important to take the child’s problems seriously and act as early as possible if the child has major difficulties in his or her everyday life. How quickly you act as a parent depends on how much they need for help is. Preschool teachers and teachers also react when they experience a child having difficulties.
It is common for children with ADHD to have difficulty with language development. The child may find it difficult to find words, to formulate in complete sentences and to express their will. There can easily be conflicts when the child cannot express himself. The child often has problems with sleep. It can be difficult to fall asleep in the evening and to get started in the morning.
Often the child has rapid mood swings and reacts with severe outbursts, even in small setbacks. Then it is usually important that any adult is nearby, who sees and understands the child’s needs.
Support and help with learning
Dyslexia may be more common in children with ADHD. Then it is important to get extra support in reading and writing. It may also be that the child does not perceive certain sounds. Then the child may have difficulty pronouncing certain words as well as learning to read.
Here you can read more about dyslexia and get advice on how to help your child. It is good to start helping the child early. There is good help to be had.
What can I do to support my child?
In many places, there are parent training courses where you can learn more about ADHD and get advice on how to deal with the child. One such program is Komet, which aims to teach tools that lead to minor problems and conflicts at home and at school. Another is COPE.
There are also materials aimed directly at the child. For example, there is an educational brochure called “ADHD – The Triple Thread”. Their ADHD is described as a tripod. The parable is that if you see the tripod, it is easier not to stumble upon it.
You can get support as a parent
You can get support from the community if you are a parent of children with disabilities. The support you receive depends on the difficulties the child has. Most often you have to seek support yourself.
Talk and get advice from the team that did the investigation or with the social services in your municipality. Depending on which municipality you live in, you can, for example, talk to other parents in a family group. Read more about family support.
For example, you can apply for financial assistance from the Social Insurance Office. Examples of reimbursements that you can apply for our nursing grants and additional expenses for children.
Talk to others
Getting the help you are entitled to can be difficult or complicated. Sometimes you may even have to wait longer than you thought. It may also happen that you do not initially get the help you expected. Then it can be valuable for the child and for you as a parent to meet others who are in the same situation as yourself.
Riksförbundet Attention is an interest organization for people who have a neuropsychiatric disability and their relatives. They have local associations in many places in the country. There you can meet other parents and participate in various activities offered by the association. You can benefit greatly from talking to others who are experienced in seeking support from the community due to an ADHD diagnosis.
SIP, coordinated individual plan
It can feel difficult to reach as a parent. In addition to supporting your child yourself, you should also try to co-ordinate and manage contact with other people around your child. It can be people who work in, for example, the school, the municipality or the health care system.
Then you can ask for a so-called SIP, coordinated individual plan.
The purpose of a SIP is to make it easier for you and to make it clearer who is responsible for what effort.
What happens when the child turns 18?
When your child turns 18, many changes occur. Many parents say that it is difficult to know how to handle that the child is then expected to take on more responsibility, while at the same time the parent role is given less space. Here you can read more about what happens when your child becomes a child.
Living with ADHD
ADHD can pose various difficulties depending on your age and your life situation. The difficulties you have can vary over time and often decrease over the years. Your personality, your temperament, your qualities, values , and interests also influence how you are and function. The diagnosis can thus only partially describe who you are and what you need to feel good. Here are some general tips to help you who have ADHD:
Get help from the technology
You can often find it difficult to plan and organize tasks or activities if you are not very motivated. You often postpone things that you think are difficult or boring, like cleaning or paying bills. Sometimes you also postpone important decisions.
Once motivated, you may have difficulty interrupting what you are doing. Therefore, you can have great help with electronic tools that remind you that it is time to take a break if you have difficulty prioritizing tasks and relating to time.
Do one thing at a time and set goals
Some things may feel impossible if you think of them as a single task. But if you do one thing at a time, you can succeed even with what you find difficult. Divide what you want to achieve into sub-goals that are easier to achieve than trying to do everything at the same time.
Organizing your home and finding ways to keep things organized can help you get things done. You may need to find a system to sort bills and make sure they are paid on time.
Explain to others how you work
For example, when a person often arrives late or forgets things, it can cause irritation. It can be perceived that the person does not strain, although it is not at all. It can be important for the environment to understand why you have difficulties with certain things.
The more you understand and accept your way of working, the easier it can be to relate to other people and their expectations. It will also be easier for you to explain to others what you need to feel good so that they can try to adapt to you, not just the other way around.
Develop your interests and use your strengths
ADHD means not only that you have difficulties, but also strengths. This could mean, for example, that you have a strong drive and endurance when it comes to things that interest you. You may feel like you never get tired, and can devote hours to your interest.
You can often have more imagination and find creative solutions that others had not come up with. Therefore, you can often develop well within what interests you. Try to find ways to develop and make use of what you are good at.
Often better with time
Difficulties you had as a child can decrease over time. As an adult, you may have found ways to solve things that were difficult for you then. It is also common for overactivity to decrease over the years. Your positive sides and qualities that may be related to ADHD often come out more when you are older.
By learning more about how you work and finding your own strategies, your self-esteem increases, and it can be easier to handle the demands of the environment. The more you learn about how you work, and the more knowledge people around you get, the easier life can usually be for you who have ADHD.