Inability to complete tasks is not a diagnosis for ADHD –Psychologist

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A Senior Psychologist and Researcher at Remz Institute, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Usen Essien, says it is wrong to associate the inability to complete a task within a given time to a neurological condition known as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The psychologist said ADHD is a clinically diagnosed mental disorder that manifests in a person before the age of 12.

Essien noted that research had shown that an estimated nine per cent of children have ADHD, while about 3 per cent of adults show symptoms of ADHD.

The American Psychiatry Association said ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children.

According to the association, symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity (excess movement that does not fit the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought).

The body, however, noted that high activity levels, difficulty to stay still for long periods of time and limited attention spans, are common in young children generally, but the difference in children with ADHD is that their hyperactivity and inattention are noticeably greater than expected for some within their age and can cause distress or problems functioning at home, school or with friends.

ADHD is diagnosed as one of three types: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type or combined type and a diagnosis is based on the symptoms that have occurred over the past six months,” the organisation stated.

Speaking further on the condition, Essien said other symptoms a person with ADHD might exhibit include, “losing or misplacing items needed to complete activities or tasks, is side tracked by external or unimportant stimuli, forgets daily activities, diminished attention span, lacks ability to complete schoolwork and other assignments or to follow instructions, voids or is disinclined to begin homework or activities requiring concentration and fails to focus on details or makes thoughtless mistakes in schoolwork or assignments.

“Hyperactivity, squirms when seated or fidgets with feet or hands, marked restlessness that is difficult to control or appears to be driven by a ‘motor’, or is often ‘on the go. Lacks the ability to play and engage in leisure activities in a quiet manner, and impulsivity, which is hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought.”

Essien noted that for a person to have ADHD, there must be a presence of at least five or six of the listed symptoms stressing, “Only experts like psychologists, paediatricians and psychiatrists can diagnose and manage ADHD.”

The Senior Psychologist explained that not all cases of one’s inability to complete a task must be associated with ADHD, adding, “One symptom of ADHD is difficulty to stay focused on one task for an extended period.

“It is possible for ADHD to affect make people not to be able to complete a task, yet inability to finish a task at any given time does not always mean ADHD.

“A lot of other factors could be responsible for that including perception of self-efficacy, self-handicap, motivation, procrastination and others.

“The affected individual (the one who is unable to complete a task) in most cases does not know they have ADHD, except they have been diagnosed by an expert.

“So, an individual cannot claim to have ADHD in the absence of a diagnosis. More so, the individual must have been persistently lacking focus and would have shown symptoms before age 12, which would have manifested in lack of commitment to school work and lack of attention in class, church and in other settings.”

The psychologist noted that impact of ADHD on the health of a person will mostly come from the effect of drugs given to manage the condition, adding that in many cases, are lifelong.

“The medications may be increased or decreased as ADHD patient ages. Some may reach adulthood and be able to cope without drugs if they have developed necessary skills. However, others will need to continue to take ADHD medications.



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