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ADULT ADHD

Assessment and Treatments

About Adult ADHD

Modern life and it’s fast pace can certainly be a balancing act for any adult, but if you find yourself with concentration problems, constantly late, disorganised, forgetful, or overwhelmed, you may have undiagnosed adult ADHD.

ADHD isn’t just something that affects children. Attention deficit disorder affects many adults, and its variety of frustrating symptoms such as impairments with concentration and memory, and disorganisation can get in the way of everything from relationships to careers.

How can adults develop ADHD?

Adults with ADHD are neurodivergent – they have always had ADHD – it may have gone unrecognised throughout childhood. This was especially common in the past, when others may have labelled you as a day-dreamer, a lazy kid, a troublemaker, forgetful, disorganised – or just as a bad student.  It is estimated that up to 30-40% of people may be neurodivergent, with the rest of the population neurotypical. ADHD is a form of neurodivergence. It has a genetic component.

There is also the possibility that you may have been able to mask or compensate for the symptoms of ADHD when you were young. As demands increase – through primary into secondary school, and then into pursuing a career, raising a family, running a household, the greater the demands on you become. These demands are made on your abilities to organise, focus, and remain calm. Although this can be challenging for anyone, if you have ADHD it can feel almost impossible.

The good news is that, no matter how it feels, many challenges of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be overcome.

With education, support, and a little creativity, you can learn to manage the symptoms of adult ADHD—even turning some of your weaknesses into strengths. ADHD neurodiversity often requires people to work harder to manage their emotions, or to manage their attention. It’s never too late to turn the difficulties of adult ADHD around and start discovering strategies that can help you succeed.

Neurodiversity isn’t the same thing as disability. Neurodiversity means that you process information differently. People who have neurodivergent features may need to make accommodations at work or school.

Signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults

In adults, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder often looks different than ADHD in children. Adults have learned strategies and use them, often masking symptoms. We know that symptoms are unique for each individual, but it you find you are experiencing many of the following, it may be time for a formal assessment and support.

COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS
  • Trouble concentrating and staying focused. You may be easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds, move from one activity to another, often without finishing tasks, or become bored quickly. These symptoms of inattention and concentration difficulties can lead to problems paying attention, including finding it hard to read, or pay attention to others, getting lost in conversations, or finding it hard to follow directions.
  • Disorganisation and forgetfulness. You may find that your car, home or office is messy and cluttered, that you frequently forget appointments or deadlines, or underestimate how long things take. Adults with ADHD often complain of losing or misplacing phones, keys, or wallets.
  • Hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is often noted in adults with ADHD. Although many are aware to tune out the world around them when engaged in a task, book or game, hyperfocus can also lead to problems if you are unable to switch effectively between tasks that you need to so, or move your attention easily.
BEHAVIOURAL SYMPTOMS
  • Impulsivity. When impulsivity is an issue, it can lead to trouble inhibiting behaviour, including speech. You might find that you often act before thinking, make decisions before considering all the options, interrupt others, blurt out replies or rush through tasks. Patience may be challenging, and sometimes it can be hard to sit still when required (e.g. when you are at your child’s assembly or in a long meeting).
  • Hyperactivity or restlessness. Hyperactivity in adults with ADHD looks much the same as it does in children. You may be highly energetic and feel always “on the go” as if driven by a motor. Often, symptoms of hyperactivity become more subtle and internal with age. You may notice feeling restless, or constantly fidgeting or multi-tasking. There can also be racing thoughts, excessive talking, and a tendency to take risks.
EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS
  • Emotional difficulties. Many adults with ADHD have difficulties managing their feelings. Emotions like anger or frustration can be particularly problematic, leading to irritability and mood swings, or a short, explosive, temper and difficulty managing frustration.

DIAGNOSIS AND TESTING

TESTING

For adults diagnosed in later life, understanding what ADHD is may lead to a deeper understanding of the self, and awareness of helpful strategies to reduce stress.

We recommend you begin by booking in for our standard series (6 appointments) with one of our team. Many of us have a special interest in the diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD. In the first appointment we will discuss your specific challenges, needs and also your budget and desire for testing and formal assessment reports. We appreciate that cognitive testing and report writing can be expensive, and diagnosis does not depend on it in all cases.

We will discuss your unique history, learn what testing has been done already, and be able to guide you.  Evaluation involves gathering information from multiple sources, and diagnosis cannot be made from a brief meeting or just by talking to someone.

Given you are reading this page, it’s fairly likely you are neurodivergent in some way – it’s our job to work out what that means and how much testing will be required to rule out other alternate diagnoses. It can be challenging to determine whether a symptom belongs to ADHD, to a different disorder or to both disorders at the same time! More than two-thirds of people with ADHD are diagnosed with at least one other psychiatric disorder in their lifetime.

Note! Please see your GP for a thorough check up to rule out any medical conditions that can cause symptoms similar to ADHD.

There is no single test for adult ADHD. After you meet with our team, we will be able to suggest what testing will be best for your unique self.

We offer a comprehensive and holistic testing package for ADHD, because we know how important an accurate diagnosis is. However, our testing is tailored to you – and your individual needs – after our initial assessment.

Our holistic testing may include clinical observations, information gathering from family or friends, and testing in regards to academic, social, behavioural and emotional functioning. A developmental history review and specific tests of attention, in addition to psychometric testing to identify cognitive strengths and weaknesses can be undertaken.

People commonly ask us how long does testing will take.  Frustrating as it is to hear, it varies. Some clients present with complex histories that require more assessment than others.  Until we meet you, the truth is that we don’t know for sure.  We don’t know yet whether we need to assess co-morbid conditions (autism, anxiety, depression), and we don’t have access to your medical and developmental history.  The diagnosis of ADHD isn’t about whether you have they symptoms – it also involves ruling out a number of other causes for symptoms – and these alternative explanations are unique to you.

We would always expect diagnosis to be upwards of three sessions.  We will provide a clear estimate after meeting you for initial assessment.