Treating ADHD in Childhood and Adulthood: Understanding Why You Get So Distracted

A brain on a chalkboard with “ADHD” written under it, representing treating ADHD.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 9% of children.

It is characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Children with ADHD may struggle to focus, follow instructions, and complete tasks, leading to difficulties in school and social settings.

The condition can carry well into adulthood, and adults can be as negatively impacted by the condition as children, if not more. This blog post will examine how ADHD manifests in children and adults, and how it can be helped.


The Two Faces of ADHD

According to the DSM-V, ADHD appears in two forms: Hyperactive/Impulsive presentation and Inattentive presentation.

Here are some qualities present in each:

Note: Because these behaviors begin in childhood and persist into adulthood, the DSM outlines these behaviors in terms of childhood ADHD.



This type of ADHD is characterized by frequent “zoning out”, being forgetful, or otherwise having a hard time following instructions. An Inattentive ADHD child may…

  • Not have an eye for detail, and will often make careless mistakes in their school or work assignments.

  • Not sustain attention on a single task for a long period of time.

  • Not listen even when spoken to directly.

  • Fail to follow instructions properly, but without being defiant or failing to understand what their instructions were to begin with.

  • Possess few organizational skills, resulting in messy workspaces, missed deadlines, and poor planning.



This type is characterized by never being able to sit still and having a difficult time staying silent. A Hyperactive ADHD child may…

  • Exhibit excessive fidgeting with hands or squirming around in their seat.

  • Wander off when staying seated is expected.

  • Run around or climb things when they are expected to sit still.

  • Have trouble playing by themselves or staying quiet during leisure activities.

  • Never shut off and always seem “on the go.”

  • Talk frequently, often interrupting others.

  • Have trouble waiting their turn.

  • Insert themselves in conversations and intrude on other students’ quiet time.


The Causes of ADHD and Parent Management Training

The causes of ADHD are debated, but theories range from biological sensitivity, brain anatomy differences, genetic and hereditary factors, head injuries, prenatal exposure to certain substances, and premature birth.

But what can parents do once they’re certain that their child is struggling with ADHD? They can learn to help them through Parent Management Training.

Parent Management Training (or parent coaching) is designed to educate and empower parents to support their child’s development and behavior.

It helps parents develop strategies for managing their child’s symptoms, such as setting clear boundaries, using positive reinforcement, and developing routines. Parent coaching also addresses the parent’s own stress and relationship with their child, which can improve the overall family dynamic.

Research has shown that parent coaching in conjunction with other treatments, such as medication and behavioral therapy, can lead to significant improvement in children’s ADHD symptoms and overall functioning.


ADHD As an Adult

Even though ADHD can lead to impairments in a child’s ability to learn and perform important tasks, if recognized early, the condition is highly treatable.

However, if ADHD goes undiagnosed and continues into adulthood, it can create significant obstacles in a person’s life.

According to CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), it is estimated that 10 million adults struggle with ADHD in the United States.

Many have inconsistent performance at work or in their careers; have difficulties with day-to-day responsibilities; experience relationship problems; and may have chronic feelings of frustration, guilt or blame.”

Having a condition that affects executive function like ADHD can have serious consequences in an adult’s life. Executive function disorders affect a person’s ability to manage thoughts and actions, how well they plan for the future, and how often they follow through on their goals.

This is why getting a proper diagnosis and recognizing the long-term consequences of letting ADHD go unchecked are so essential to preventing problems down the road.

If you’re an adult who believes you are suffering from ADHD, know that treating ADHD is possible, and that effective treatments do exist aside from medication alone.


Treating ADHD Behaviorally — Organizational Skills Training

Here is the definition of organizational skills, according to the Cambridge Dictionary:

The ability to use your time, energy, resources, etc. in an effective way so that you achieve the things you want to achieve.”

When a lack of organizational skills affects a child’s academic performance or their ability to make friends, this can majorly impact their self-esteem. And as we’ve seen, adults will have trouble cultivating their independence if they struggle with organizational skills as well.

Treating ADHD and executive function difficulties with Organizational Skills Training (OST) involves giving individuals the tools they need to control their mental tendencies and finally get where they would like to be in life.

Schoolchildren undergoing OST are given strategies for organizing their school work, planning for the future, and managing their time in effective ways.

Here are some examples of Organizational Skills:

  • Always writing things down instead of trying to remember them.

  • Scheduling your week in advance so that you always know what you’re supposed to be doing.

  • Keeping a detailed planner for managing work, chores, or homework assignments.

  • Eliminating multitasking from your life and committing to focusing on one thing at a time.

  • Reducing clutter in your workspace (and for that matter, designating one spot to be your “workspace.”)

  • Minimizing or making rules around your technology use (cell phones, video games, etc.)

The more of these skills you learn, the more your ADHD symptoms can be mitigated, and the less of a problem it will be for you.


The Power of Treating ADHD

There’s no reason to let ADHD continue to affect your life or the life of your child. You can learn skills that will offset your ADHD symptoms and prevent them from holding you back.

In treatment, no one is going to tell you to “just pay attention” or blame your symptoms on laziness or lack of motivation.

Once you possess the skills and insight about how your ADHD affects you, you will always recognize when it pops up, and it will no longer slow your progress toward the things you really want in life.

With enough know-how, ADHD won’t stop you.