Can Adults Have
Patricia Zifferblatt |
December 1, 2004
The short answer is
yes--adults can have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In the
November-December 2004 issue of The FDA Consumer, a publication of
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the front cover announces,
“ADHD, Not Just for Kids Anymore.” This announcement is both a vindication
for those people who have ADHD (including myself, undiagnosed, from as early
as I can remember) and were placed in a “special category” by society and
also for the teachers, health practitioners, and employers who didn’t know
what to do with these unusual people.
“ADHD,” according to the article, “is the most commonly diagnosed mental
disorder in children.” This disorder is usually diagnosed after a child has
started school--the teacher notices emotional outbursts, inability to sit
still in class, and a tendency to talk to everyone about everything without
ADHD is typically dealt with in several ways:
Where should I start?
- Some children are able to deal with their ADHD when their parents
adopt a more natural diet without additives, preservatives, refined
sugar, and including some herbal preparations such as passion flower.
- Some children improve in the years after puberty and learn how to
control their behavior.
- Some children, after medical consultation, need to be medicated in
order to stay in the mainstream of life.
A correct diagnosis is very important before trying to help a child or an
adult who shows some of the symptoms of ADHD. Here are some of the symptoms
of the disorder:
Any of the above symptoms should be evaluated by a qualified health
professional before beginning any program or medication regime. Most of
these behaviors are exhibited by children at some time or another, so it’s
important to make the distinction between, for instance, normal childhood
fidgeting in unexciting situations and the uncontrollable, constant
fidgeting of ADHD.
- Has difficulty paying attention and is easily distracted
- Does not pay close attention to details and makes careless mistakes
- Does not seem to hear what is being said
- Does not follow through on projects or finish tasks
- Avoids tasks that require concentration
- Forgets possessions, appointments, etc.
- Fidgets and squirms when seated and can’t sit still for any length
- Exhibits signs of restlessness
- Acts as if driven and on the go most of the time
- Talks constantly, interrupts, blurts out questions and answers, and
can’t wait until his or her turn
Not all children are created equal--what works for one child does not work
for another. But then, a child grows up and becomes an adult--an adult in a
world where he or she is still trying to make it, yet not knowing how to
make this happen.
Can a person with ADHD succeed in life?
Absolutely! As an example, let me tell you my story:
I was kicked out of high school three times, because I was always gazing out
the window, fidgeting in my seat, and talking, talking, talking. When I was
younger, I was smart. I could pass tests easily, but I disrupted the
classes. While I was still in grade school, the teachers told my parents
that “If Patricia would concentrate, she’d do much better in classes.”
What they didn’t know was that I hadn’t yet learned to concentrate, sit
still, and follow through on projects. So I was labeled throughout my life
as “a bit hyper and difficult.” And I knew how to push my teacher’s buttons,
which only made matters worse!
I had to learn as I got older that I was responsible for my behavior, and I
had to find different ways to channel my energies. And I have been very
successful in life.
I’ve learned throughout the years that ADHD can run in families. My
87-year-old brother has been diagnosed with a form of ADHD and has been
medicated for years, and being the good mother that I like to be, I passed
my ADHD on to my children and my grandchildren!
Many ADHD people are very bright and successful once they learn how to live
in society and channel their God-given energies. According to an expert
interviewed for this article, “In adults, it’s a much more elaborate
disorder than in children. It’s more than paying attention and controlling
What should I do if I think my child may have ADHD--or that I might
Here are some helpful tips to follow:
Personally and in all honesty, I’ve had to start medicating for my ADHD this
past year, so I know a little about making that monumental decision. In the
spring of 2004, I had an experience that led me to seek and find a great
doctor who has really helped me. The way I see it is this: I’ve made it
through 72 years without meds, so now that I’m approaching my “good old
years” I don’t mind a pill or two to help me make it for the next 72 years
with enjoyment! Of course this is my personal decision, and you’re entitled
to make yours.
- Get a professional diagnosis, since there are many types of ADHD.
- If you are an adult with ADHD, attend a cognitive behavior program
and learn the techniques that can help you live a good life and control
- Start doing what you like to do best, because when you’re doing
something you like, it’s easier to concentrate and complete the job.
- Yoga and progressive relaxation classes can help quiet down the
impulsiveness many of us with ADHD experience on a regular basis.
- Learn how proper diet and exercise can help in the management of
- Learn about supplements that can help:
- Vitamin B, the anti-stress vitamin
- Omega-3 fatty acids for the depression that may accompany ADHD
- Passion flower for a calming effect
- Siberian ginseng that can help with focusing
- And valerian for a good night’s sleep
- If necessary, don’t be afraid to start a medication after consulting
with a qualified health professional--you wouldn’t hesitate to take
insulin if you were diabetic, would you?
I encourage everyone concerned to learn more about ADHD in both children and
adults. For additional information about the article I have referred to in
The FDA Consumer, log onto
you or someone you know wants to find a health professional in your
community to help with a diagnosis, contact the local American Psychiatric
Association, the American Academy of Pediatricians, or your local mental