About ADHD

"Adult ADHD" isn't a distinct diagnosis from "child ADHD", but ADHD in adults can present very differently to how it looks in kids.

So, what are the symptoms of ADHD in adults? The diagnostic criteria for ADHD in adults doesn't differentiate the symptomatic presentation of kids and adults, which can mean that however adults with ADHD may experience significant problems in some of these areas: 

  • inconsistent work performance
  • regularly forgetting important dates and appointments
  • high emotional volatility 
  • being worried chronically due to fear of failure, underperforming or missing deadlines
  • struggles with keeping on top of the basic stuff of daily living
  • strong feelings of shame and blame
  • procrastination that can be debilitating 
  • easily distracted from goal-oriented activities
  • time blindness leading to an inability to see and act upon the way actions taken (or not taken) today impact the future
  • impulsive decision making - which may present as shopping to excess or overeating.


Executive functions can be described as the capacities needed for people to manage the goal-oriented and purposeful tasks of daily life.

Deficits in executive can affect time management, organisational skills, problem-solving abilities, motivation, sustained attention, and regulation of emotions and behaviours.

According to Barkley and Murphy (2011), executive function deficits impair people's ability to regulate their behaviour over time. 

Dr Thomas Brown said that "attention is essentially a name for the integrated operation of the executive functions of the brain". 

Brown, Barkley and Dawson all break these skills down differently, but essentially the main executive functions are: 
- organisation
- time mangement
- prioritising
- planning
- initiating tasks
- focusing and shifting focus (hence the seemingly paradoxical experience of hyperfocus - being unable to stop focusing on one thing and redirect focus when required)
- sustaining effort
- working and non-working memory
- response inhibition and emotional control (self-regulation)
- goal-directed persistence
- flexibility 
- time management

Complicated answer. An ADHD diagnosis on its own doesn't qualify you to access the NDIS. This is mostly because it can be hard for someone with ADHD alone to meet the NDIS eligibility criteria of a severe and permanent disability.

Where ADHD occurs alongside another condition, such as an intellectual disability, autism, learning disability or global development delay, you may be more likely to obtain NDIS funding.

ADHD may be covered by the NDIS if you meet the eligibility and disability requirements. In addition to general criteria such as age, you must be able to prove that you have a disability causing an impairment that:

  • Is permanent or likely to be permanent
  • Results in substantially reduced capacity to undertake day-to-day activities
  • Affects your capacity for social or economic participation
  • Means you are likely to require support throughout your lifetime.

Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis rather than a specific diagnosis.

In Australia, formal diagnosis of ADHD can only be made by a paediatrician or psychiatrist. You can obtain a referral to a practitioner from your GP.

Neuropsychologists and clinical psychologists perform valuable assessments which can lead to a formal ADHD diagnosis. 

Finding a knowledgable, empathetic specialist you are comfortable with is essential to the long-term management of ADHD.

Many practitioners have lengthy waitlists, so it's a good idea to get cracking on doing a ring around if you suspect ADHD. 

The exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood. What we do know is that ADHD is a complex  and heterogeneous condition influenced by a combination of genetic, neurological, and environmental factors.

Genetic studies have shown that ADHD is highly heritable. ADHD runs strongly in families, and studies have shown that certain genes involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine may be associated with ADHD.

There is evidence to suggest that imbalances in these neurotransmitters contributes to the symptoms of ADHD.

Research has revealed differences in the brain structure and activity of individuals with ADHD compared to those without the disorder. These differences primarily involve regions responsible for attention, impulse control, and executive functions.

The interplay of genetic and environmental factors likely contributes to individual differences in the development and manifestation of ADHD symptoms.



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