Let’s Talk About ADHD: Part 1

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Despite vast amounts of research articles and books on the subject, Attention Deficit
Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) continues to be misunderstood.Part of the confusion may stem from the fact that the name ADHD is a misnomer, considering that there is no deficit of attention.

So, what is it ADHD? Rather than a deficit, there is an abundance of attention, making it difficult to focus on just one thing. In fact, people with ADHD can hyperfocus on something novel and exciting for hours, causing them to lose track of other responsibilities.

Misinformation from trusted professionals has contributed to the misunderstanding of ADHD. Some have asserted that ADHD is a result of childhood or attachment trauma impacting the development of the brain during formative years. They blame mothers for not being attuned and meeting their child’s needs. Does this sound familiar? The same was said about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when it was a nascent disorder. Others have gone as far as to deny the existence of ADHD all together, suggesting it is instead a cluster of trauma symptoms.

However, recent neuroscience research shows that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental difference that is genetic for most people. For a smaller percentage of those with ADHD, it results from other factors while in utero.

Misdiagnosing PTSD as ADHD and vice versa has created further confusion on the validity of the disorder. Practitioners who are not trauma informed mistake the symptoms of trauma for ADHD and hence give that as a diagnosis. The reverse is also true where ADHD is mistaken for trauma and a PTSD diagnosis is given. Though on the surface, ADHD and PTSD can appear similar in nature, the inner workings are incredibly different. There is much more to ADHD than attention and hyperactivity–but more on that later.

It is not surprising that once someone who has been misdiagnosed with ADHD heals their trauma, their ADHD-like symptoms resolve. However, ADHD and trauma can co-exist, and when the trauma is healed, ADHD does not resolve.

Thankfully there are scientists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists who are diligently working toward educating people about ADHD, including Dr. Russell Barkley and Dr. Ned Hallowell, who are both credible sources for learning about this neurodevelopmental disorder.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article.

Aarhus University. (2023, February 9). Researchers link 27 genetic variants to ADHD. ScienceDaily.
Retrieved June 8, 2023 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/02/230209114741.htm

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Jenny Feliciano, LCPC

Jenny believes that each person has within them the resources to heal. As a trauma-informed therapist, she blends traditional therapy with somatic interventions to address the neurobiological effects of trauma. Jenny honors… Read More