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What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurotype, or way of thinking, that is characterised by differences with areas including focusing attention, controlling impulses, organising, prioritising, time management, and more.


How does this look in children in the day to day?

ADHD can look vastly different in different people. Here are some of the features which we may see in children with ADHD.

Differences in attention

  • Becoming distracted easily, difficulty staying on one task, jumping between tasks.

  • Making mistakes in tasks, even when they know what to do.

  • Hyperfocus, this means becoming engrossed in one topic for extended periods of time.

  • Avoiding tasks which require sustained concentration (homework, watching movies).

  • Low registration of talking, this often looks like “not listening”.

  • Difficulty following instructions (e.g. goes upstairs to brush teeth and when parents go upstairs find them sorting out their books).

  • Difficulties with organising (messy bedrooms, late homework, losing things often).

  • Difficulty with time management (e.g. being late to school).

Hyperactivity

Impulsivity

Children with ADHD can present with only inattentive or only hyperactive/impulsive traits; as well as both inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive traits. Children with undiagnosed ADHD often fly under the radar as “naughty”. It is important to get your child assessed if they present with these traits, so your their neurotype can be understood and they can receive support where required.


 

What can we do to support ADHDers at The Happy Space?

  • We provide school consulting to help educate teachers to know the right way to support children with attentional difficulties

  • We run social groups where we support kids to develop their executive functioning skills (time management, focusing, sustaining and shifting attention, managing frustration, remembering, and more) by completing a task of their choice.

  • If child’s difficulties with attention, hyperactivity or impulsivity are impacting their learning at school or are becoming frustrating to them or dangerous, medications can be helpful. You can discuss this with your paediatrician.

What do we NOT do?

  • We do not teach social skills. Evidence shows us that teaching social skills can be harmful to neurodivergent individuals and there is no need for people to learn social skills to fit in. Our differences are what make us wonderful!

  • We do not provide individual therapy for executive functioning or social communication. We use these skills with our peers, so we may as well practice them with our peers! This is going to lead to the most functional and generalised gains.

 

While traits of ADHD can sometimes make day to day life difficult for ADHDers living in a society built for neurotypicals, they can also be strengths which help push people to succeed, some examples of this are:

Michael Phelps (Swimmer)

At his retirement, Phelps was the most decorated Olympian of all time. He’s won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which are gold.

Adam Levine – Singer (Maroon 5)

“I had trouble sometimes writing songs and recording in the studio. I couldn’t always focus and complete everything I had to. I remember being in the studio once and having 30 ideas in my head, but I couldn’t document any of them,” he wrote. He went back to the doctor and learned that the ADHD hadn’t gone away as he’d grown up. In fact, he still deals with it daily. “ADHD isn’t a bad thing, and you shouldn’t feel different from those without ADHD,” he wrote. “Remember that you are not alone. There are others going through the same thing.”

Simone Biles (Gymnast)

Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast ever and arguably the greatest American gymnast of all time. She’s won an astounding 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. In 2022, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — becoming the youngest person to receive the nation's highest civilian honor.

Daniel Kwan (Director and Screenwriter of 2023 Oscar Nominated Film Everything Everywhere All at Once)

Daniel learned he had ADHD after conducting research for his highly acclaimed film, which was nominated for 11 Oscars, including best picture, in 2023. “I stayed up until like, four in the morning, just reading everything I could find about it, just crying, just realizing that, ‘Oh, my God, I think I have ADHD,’” Kwan told Salon in a 2022 interview. “So this movie is the reason why I got diagnosed... this movie, obviously, when you look at it now, was made by someone with ADHD,” he added.


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