The poster child for ADHD is a preschooler who is a bundle of impulsive, non-stop energy and who simply can’t listen or concentrate. But ADHD, like most neurological conditions, occurs across a spectrum. Behaviors like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention can happen at various levels of intensity. A bright, straight-A student may very well have symptoms that don’t fully affect his life until the stresses and pressures of adulthood bring them to the fore.
So what happens to the ADHD child who is never diagnosed?
Trouble focusing and staying on task is a classic symptom of ADHD. Driving requires intense concentration, especially in challenging traffic or bad weather conditions. Frequent tickets, fender-benders, and a lack of marked improvement in driving skills over time may indicate a more fundamental problem, especially when this manifestation is combined with other chronic behaviors.
Always On The Go
Imagine a child with ADHD put in charge of a small business. That hyperactive energy may come in handy in embracing the challenge. But what if that energy doesn’t abate after work, over the weekend, or during vacations? What if you’re constantly revved, tense, or volcanically verbose? Difficulties in slowing down or relaxing when it’s time to do so may be an indication of undiagnosed condition.
Difficulty estimating the amount of time a task will take, combined with trouble in assessing priorities, can make meeting scheduled expectations a challenge. If you decide to write a check donation for church five minutes before services and then can’t help but tackle the bills piled on your desk, you’re likely to miss the sermon altogether. An adult with ADHD frequently fumbles appointments, arrives at meetings late, or unwittingly breaks promises to meet for coffee or lunch.
Since the ability to listen with concentration is so important in every relationship, an adult suffering from undiagnosed ADHD may find that friends slip away due to communication problems or broken promises. Marital difficulties can spring from many sources, but lack of communication is a fundamental one.
Offices are alive with chatter, phone calls, the clatter of keyboard keys, and the hustle and shuffle of cubicle-mates. In these conditions, concentration is a challenge for everyone. For an adult suffering with ADHD, such distractions along with other classic symptoms can contribute to less-than-optimal performance, a lack of advancement, or even a checkered employment record.
If you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from undiagnosed ADHD, contact a mental health professional to conduct a thorough neuropsychological evaluation. Diagnosis can bring relief, treatment, and in some cases, workplace accommodation.