What is ADHD?

So, what is ADHD?

You may have heard it called ADHD or ADD, but what attention deficit hyperactivity disorder looks like can really vary from person to person. However, key signs are usually struggling to concentrate or focus, finding it hard to sit still and having an inability to control impulses. 

It is estimated that in the UK around 5% of children and 4% of adults have ADHD; this equates to about 2.6 million people in Britain.*

ADHD has three types, each with different symptoms and challenges:

  • Inattentive - struggles to keep interest, gets easily distracted and is forgetful
  • Hyperactive - impulsive - fidgets, talks excessively and seems impatient
  • Combined - a combination of inattention and hyperactivity.

The ‘H’ is actually important here because it distinguishes between the two main types of ADHD: the inattentive type, being classed as ADD, and the predominantly hyperactive type, hence the H.

Celebrating people with ADHD!

ADHD is often described in terms of the deficits, and this is done so that the right support can be put in place. But always talking about what a person can’t do or focussing on the negatives can be demoralising. 

Let’s look at some successful people with ADHD and see what it's meant for them.

There are lots of celebrities who have ADHD and they’re happy to talk about it and share their experiences, which is fantastic for helping to break down the stigma in society. And what’s more, they help prove just how valuable and exciting it is to have people in the world who think differently! 

Despite his school teachers berating his ‘inability to sit still’ when he was younger, Michael Phelps has achieved a total of 28 medals and 5 world records. Equally, musician Will.i.am cites his ADHD as “a gift, not a flaw” and says it helps his creativity flourish. Dav Pilkey, author and cartoonist well-known for his Dog Man and Captain Underpants series, calls it Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Delightfulness. He totally credits his ADHD for his success and says “it's a good thing to think differently; it’s a superpower!” And arguably one of the cleverest men ever, Stephen Hawking, also had ADHD.

It's so wonderful to hear of all sorts of people thinking of their ADHD, and their neurodiversity, as a positive trait, and indeed a superpower! The world needs more people to see it this way.

Positive signs of ADHD

So instead of thinking about what can be considered only as negatives, flip this on its head and start thinking of them as positive traits, for example:

  • Hyperactivity as having boundless energy.
  • Daydreaming as having a fantastic imagination, leading to even more creativity.
  • Sensitivity as being empathetic instead; and the world could definitely do with more of this.
  • Hyperfocus would be great for getting the job done; sometimes we’re required to juggle lots, but focussing on one thing at a time can achieve better results.
  • Talkativeness sometimes people talk a lot to make themselves or others feel at ease. Being friendly and chatting with lots of people is a positive in our books!

Diagnosing ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when children start school, for example, or when their circumstances change. Most cases are usually diagnosed before the age of about 12, but sometimes it can be missed until later in childhood and into secondary school, and sometimes it isn’t diagnosed until much later altogether, into adulthood.

Symptoms of ADHD typically improve with age, but many people who were diagnosed as a child can go on to experience problems as an adult. People with ADHD may also experience additional issues such as depression, sleep or anxiety disorders. ADHD can only be diagnosed by a medical professional, a doctor or psychologist, who will use different tests and interviews to assess behaviour.

The old-fashioned, stereotypical image of ADHD is a boy bouncing around a classroom, full of energy. However, ADHD can present itself differently in boys and girls. Boys tend to have more noticeable, behavioural symptoms and because girls’ symptoms tend to be less ‘disruptive’ and they are notoriously better at masking symptoms, it can go undetected. For this reason it has often been long overlooked in girls and can lead to mental health challenges later in life. For every one girl diagnosed with ADHD, four boys will be diagnosed.*

What can cause ADHD?

It is thought that ADHD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but the exact cause is still unknown, however it does tend to run in families. And ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability.

Common Questions

Q. Is there a cure?

  • No. ADHD is life-long; it is not curable however symptoms can be significantly lessened.

Q. Can you grow out of it?  

  • The impact of ADHD tends to vary with age; both the heightening maturity of the individual and the change in their circumstances can seem to lessen symptoms. As someone matures they may be better able to cope with their ADHD or they may struggle more due to the increased expectations on them socially.

Q. Is there treatment?

  • Yes. There is a range that can be used independently or collectively including behavioural therapy known as CBT; social skills training, family therapy and schools-based therapy for children, parent/carer management training, speech and language therapy and also different medication.

Supporting those with ADHD

  • Children with ADHD often experience problems with behaviour at school and it has been known to adversely affect their studies and academic progress. Speak to the school SENCO to see what help and adjustments are available, such as extra time for exams and coursework. Schools are better equipped now to support kids who think differently, you just have to ask for help.
  • Employers are required by law to make reasonable adjustments, so speak to your employers about your condition and discuss anything they can do to help you work better / more effectively. It benefits everyone!

  • If you find it difficult to stay organised, then make lists, keep a diary or plan your studies / workload, and visual mapping tools such as Inspiration can help with this.

Inspiration and ADHD case study

Shannon uses Inspiration to cope with her ADHD, panic anxiety disorder and dyslexia, while studying. Click here to watch the video to learn more.

Click here for a free trial of Inspiration and see how it can help you.

*ADHD Incidence - ADHD UK and NICE UK


UK: TechEdology Ltd: + 44(0)1672 560387 , US: TechEdology LLC: 813-421-2002

+ 44(0)1672 560387 | support@techedology.com

Company Registration No.: 08234244  

Terms & Conditions of Sale | Privacy Policy

Inspiration® and RapidFire® are the registered trademarks of Diagramming Apps, LLC.

TechEdology® is the registered trademark of TechEdology Ltd.

British Assistibe Technology Association