What is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that displays persistent patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity. Those diagnosed can fall into either stream or have a combined presentation. Both conditions can interfere with the functioning and development of the brain and negative impacts on a person’s social, academic and/or occupational activities. ADHD can be present with other prevalent mental health conditions, and display clear evidence that symptoms interfere with or reduce the quality of social, academic and/or occupational functioning. Those diagnosed can identify with mild, moderate, or severe ADHD; determined by the number of symptoms seen below.
Symptoms of inattention
- Difficulty with specifics or details; overlooks or misses details.
- Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or activities; distracted by extraneous stimuli, limited focus during lectures, conversations and lengthy readings.
- Difficulty paying attention; wandering mind, absence in conversations or distracted.
- Difficulty following through with instruction; can start tasks but quickly get sidetracked.
- Difficulty organizing tasks or duties; can display disorganization, challenged by time management and/ or meeting deadlines.
- Difficulty remembering daily activities; remembering tasks, errands and/or keeping appointments.
Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity
- Displays acts of fidgeting, tapping hands or feet and/or squirms in seat.
- Difficulty sitting in a seat for some time; requires movement.
- Displays challenges with boundaries; physical and conversational.
- Difficulty with quiet activities; uncomfortable being still for some time.
- Difficulty with conversation; interrupts or intervenes on other’s conversations.
- Difficulty with waiting their turn; becomes restless.
- Difficulty talking at a standard pace; may blurt answers before a question has been completed.
Common types of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders with DSM-5 coding
Combined presentation – DSM-5 code: 314.01 (F90.2)
Predominantly inattentive presentation – DSM-5 code: 314.00 (F90.0)
Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation – DSM-5 code: 314.01 (F90.1)
Other specified attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – DSM-5 code: 314.01 (F90.8)
Unspecified attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – DSM-5 code: 301.01 (F90.9)
Centre for Accessibility support for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders may include
- Note-taking services
- Alternate format materials (texts into PDF/E-text)
- Time accommodation for exams
- Separate setting/distraction reduced exam setting
- Enlarged font for exams
- Listening to CAS approved music during exams
- Learning supports; including attendants or tutors
- ADHD remains under-recognized and under-diagnosed even though it is the most treatable psychiatric disorder in Canada.
- 80% of children maintain their diagnosis into adolescence and at least 60% remain impaired by symptoms in adulthood.
- Children, adolescents, and adults with untreated ADHD are at a greater risk for:
- Learning difficulties, less academic success, school dropout, and fewer years of schooling.
- Additional mental health disorders and problems with self-esteem.
- Substance abuse and a greater chance of becoming involved in the justice system.
- More accidents and sustaining injuries, more automobile accidents, and earlier death.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.