*Recently Kathleen Kelava was asked questions regarding ADHD and provided insightful and useful information on the subject.

What about the co-occurrence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) withADHD, and what it means for the individual and treatment? Both ASD and ADHD are neurodevelopmental disorders, and they share a lot of overlapping symptoms; they can also co-occur. The origin of the symptoms can be different, even with what appears to be a similar expression. For example, what can be perceived as social awkwardness in both, could be stemming from challenges with lack of perspective-taking and social skills in ASD, and could be stemming from challenges with staying on track in a conversation in ADHD.

My friend suspects her 5-year-old might have ADHD, but she is running into resistance fromfamily and medical professionals to get him assessed/diagnosed. She is seeking help becauseif he does have ADHD, then she can find help for him to manage.

Although mental-health considerations have acquired greater understanding, inclusivity, and awareness in recent years, some skeptics certainly remain! Although 5 years of age is on the younger end for assessment/diagnosis, if challenges are being noticed early-on, it’s best to seek early evaluation and treatment, if possible. This could help offset the future impact of a delayed/absent diagnosis, if/as appropriate.

What do you suggest for meditation and mindfulness for ADHD? Many people struggle with the idea of sitting on a mat/block for any length of time, let alone with the purpose of emptying the brain – impossible, they chant! However, this is actually an inaccurate and unhelpful view of what meditation and mindfulness truly are. Ideally, we are infusing mindfulness into our daily lived experiences, so that we are embodying being a “walking meditation” (so to speak) as much as we can. We actually can’t fail at this – we just keep redirecting our attention back to the present moment, when it wanders (which it will!). Over, and over, and over….again!

What kind of steps can one take to pull themselves out ofan episode of executive dysfunction? Awareness is absolutely the main step here! With respect to executive function, these are skills that must be practiced over and over again, allowing some wriggle room for adjustments in the demands of the situation, as well as the abilities of the person. For those who struggle with transitions (i.e., from one task to the next), it can be helpful to anchor tasks to each other, so that by simply starting the first, we are propelled along to the next. There is a whole list of other important executive-function skills that can be learned and finessed – this makes the person with ADHD’s life less hectic and more successful.

I’ve had a hyperfixation on ADHD research and I’veself-diagnosed, but I’m wondering aboutwhat path is available to follow to get an official assessment. An official evaluation for ADHD can be done through someone with an MD (such as a Family Physician or Psychiatrist), and/or a Registered Psychologist who is qualified in the area of Formal Assessment. Going through the public health care system is generally free of charge, and going through an Registered Psychologist (privately) can be costly, but is typically a very thorough way to be assessed.
In terms of communication, are finishing peoples sentences in your head, tuning out mid-conversation, and interrupting symptoms of ADHD? Definitely related to the inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity characteristic of ADHD!

Is there a benefit to being diagnosed as an adult?Would medicine actually help at this point? We know that 90%+ of individuals who are diagnosed with ADHD do eventually find a medication that is of marked benefit to them. It can take a few trials and errors to land on the right med/dose/timing, though the results are typically worth it. Appropriate diagnosis and medication/strategies is the gold standard for ADHD treatment, and it’s never too late!

Any advice on how to communicate an ADHD diagnosis with a child? This depends on the age and maturity (among other things) of the child, though I have generally found that children already know “something is up” with them, and appreciate knowing how their brains and bodies work. It can be very helpful to anchor this conversation with the many positive things the child has going for them (“islands of competence”), and to explain that for some things, their brains simply need to go about it a different way.

How could you identify high energyor not listening, versus“real” symptoms of ADHD in smallkids? At what age can you have assessments? All testing is scored according to the norms for the age and sex of the individual – we want to make sure we are comparing like to like. Assessments can begin in the early years, though many are started around Grade 3, as this is generally when school becomes “real”, and difficulties and gaps amongst peers are noticed. Depending on where the child lands on the normal curve with respect to different diagnostic criteria, a diagnosis of ADHD may be warranted, versus being typical high energy and lack of listening, as noted above.

I especially noted when you said the ability to focus might be there, just not on the rightthings at the right time. To expand on this question, does the high energy, or not listening (etc.) need to be happening in all settings (school, home, etc.) in order to be indicative of ADHD symptoms? In order to diagnose ADHD, symptoms must be present in more than one environment, though how they present can be different, depending on the environment itself, as well as the profile of the individual. This requires some skillful digging by the assessor! An assessment should never be based solely on numbers.

If a teenage child with ADHD struggles staying organized in school, remembering deadlines,and prioritizing, should the child see a Psychologist for help, or should parents see one sothey can help the child with strategies? A Psychologist who specializes in ADHD and executive function can certainly help, and the support of the parents in the outside-of-therapy domain is also very important, to translate the skills and knowledge into everyday living.

Can a child diagnosed with ADHD grow out of it on their own? Generally speaking, about 2.5 % of adults will continue to meet diagnostic criteria for ADHD (versus approximately 5% in children), though many (whether or not they still meet criteria as an adult) have acquired the skills, knowledge, treatment, etc. that has helped to offset the challenges associated with ADHD. Early intervention is key, though one can always be supported at any juncture.