The criteria for a diagnosis of adult ADHD involves a variety of symptoms:
ADHD – Predominantly Inattentive Presentation
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
- Has difficulty sustaining attention.
- Does not appear to listen.
- Struggles to follow through on instructions.
- Has difficulty with organization.
- Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.
- Loses things.
- Is easily distracted.
- Is forgetful in daily activities.
ADHD – Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair.
- Has difficulty remaining seated.
- Extreme restlessness in adults. Difficulty engaging in activities quietly.
- Acts as if driven by a motor; adults will often feel internally as if they were driven by a motor.
- Talks excessively.
- Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
- Difficulty waiting or taking turns.
- Interrupts or intrudes upon others.
ADHD – Combined Presentation
- Individual meets both sets of inattention and hyperactive/impulsive criteria. (Source: CHADD.org)
In order to meet the DSM-V diagnostic criteria, an adult must have a minimum of 5 out of the 9 symptoms. It is a common mistake those with or without ADHD make, in thinking that people with this disorder all have the same symptoms. When I hear people describe ADHD, the focus is often on hyperactivity or lack of attention. Those of us with this diagnosis know that there is much more to ADHD than hyperactivity and issues with attention span.
I personally believe that it is important for each person to know what their key symptoms are. I’m not sure how one can successfully manage their symptoms if they do not know specifically which ones they have been diagnosed as having. What were the exact symptoms that qualified you for a diagnosis?
For me personally I know that fidgeting is a major issue for me. This is an area that I need to continue to be aware of. I am not always successful, but I have been honest with others and asked them to please feel free to let me know when my leg goes wild with tapping or my fingers start clicking away at the pen. At work I try to be aware of how much I spin in my desk chair. For whatever reasons, I am much more productive if I am able to unconsciously tap away while doing tasks. If there is no tapping of the feet or clicking of the pen, for some bizarre reason I am less productive; except when I am in a time of hyper focus. I have no scientific explanation for all of this and at this stage of my life I’m not too concerned with it.
I know distractibility is another main issue for me and therefore I carry around a small notepad and pen with me so that I can write down things that I know I am likely to forget. I also use the timer on my smartphone so that when it rings I know what I need to tend to at that moment.
It’s important to know what your main symptoms are, due to the effects they have on your work, relationships, career, energy, time management, and many other areas of your life. Once you figure out your main symptoms you will be able to find various ways to manage them if necessary.
If it’s verbal out bursts, work on it. If it’s poor time management, tackle it. You and those around you will know best which areas you need to work on the most. Developing self-awareness takes time, as does change. Be forgiving and kind to yourself during the process.