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November 2012 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family

ADHD in adults

How to diagnose this disorder in adulthood

Dear Mr. Morton,

My son has been diagnosed with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and many of his symptoms resemble mine. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been impulsive, distractible (can’t focus long enough to read a magazine article), and restless. Can anything be done for adults with the disorder? — Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

Since 30 to 50 percent of children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder grow into adults with it, I suggest obtaining a thorough diagnosis if these manifestations have, historically, complicated your life. It’s tricky to diagnose between true and mistaken attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder in adults; you must rule out other possible causes of your restlessness and impulsivity, such as an anxiety or mood disorder.

The diagnosis should include a meticulous life history, including developmental milestones, obtained by your personal accounts and by recollections from your parents, siblings, and relatives.

If sufficient evidence indicates your above-mentioned behaviors have occurred in various aspects of your life (home, school, neighborhood, and family get-togethers) since childhood, starting at or before age 7 (origin of the disorder in adulthood never happens), your chances for proper diagnosis and treatment will increase greatly.

Many intelligent and capable adults truly fit the profile. Their impulsive, distractible, and restless manners make it fatiguing for them to perform certain tasks that others do with ease: finishing magazine articles; holding chats with people without regrettably saying the wrong thing at the wrong time; finishing detailed tasks; receiving job recognition and promotions; making good grades in school; and, not surprisingly, maintaining adequate self-esteem.

Visit the Family Journal website for a complete description of diagnostic symptoms and access to support groups and area professionals who specialize in adult diagnosis and treatment.

It’s interesting that your child has been diagnosed with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, for an abnormally high proportion of the 5 million adults with it have similarly diagnosed children. Twin studies reveal a strong genetic role.

Robert Morton has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Contact him at the Family Journal website: www.familyjournal1.blogspot.com.

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