Late to the Party

Aug. 7th, 2017

A few months ago I saw a question from a user on Tumblr: Is it possible for ADHD to develop after childhood?

I am not a scientist, but I have read many articles talking about a lot of studies done on ADHD. Many theories have been put forth on the timeline of ADHD. Some people stick to the old idea that ADHD is only a childhood disorder and people “grow out of it”. A fascinating study I read recently discovered a substantial percentage of individuals who appeared to develop the symptoms during adolescence.

I have formed my own theory through much observation of people of all ages.

A lot of people who doubt the existence of ADHD do so because, as they so rightly say, hyperactivity and impulsivity are hallmarks of childhood. So if a child is a bit more hyperactive than their peers and remains impulsive after those same peers begin to shoulder responsibility, what’s the big deal?

The problem is that these children, these people, never learn the skills that come so naturally to their peers. They remain hyperactive (or more likely attempt to force the physical hyperactivity inward until it turns into restlessness, anxiety, or even depression) long past when “everyone else” learned to sit still. The impulsivity that fuels childhood learning and fun fast becomes heavy insurance premiums and ever-growing credit card debt in adulthood.

Often someone can live a chunk of their life without anyone knowing they lack certain skills. Say a high school student who never disrupted class and got decent marks, but had all their food cooked and laundry done by their parents. As soon as these structures are taken away, and the student is expected to manage not only a complex class schedule at college, but all the tasks of life maintenance their executive function is not designed to handle, they fall apart. Did this student develop ADHD in college, or did it just become obvious there was a problem because the demands on their brain suddenly increased?

Of course, ADHD college students can survive and thrive in school, but not without acknowledging what they do well and what they do poorly. Then, corrections can be made, systems put in place, and tools implemented, that will allow the creative brain to function in a routine-based world.

Another example came from a statistic I read recently which said the largest growing population of people diagnosed with ADHD is moms. A woman who did fairly well when an employer was providing the structure and deadlines at their job then falls into chaos when they are expected to provide structure for their children. Again, it is possible to do this, once there is understanding of how the ADHD brain works and correct techniques are applied to assist.

When did ADHD become obvious in your life?