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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Planning, memory, the ability to inhibit or delay responding, initiating behavior, shifting attention between activities flexibly and focus are some of the cognitive abilities often referred to as executive functions. For most individuals, these executive functions occur automatically (Brown, 2005) and help us each day while studying, learning and organizing.
Individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have impairments in executive functioning abilities. These impairments often manifest themselves as inattention, excessive distractibility, procrastination, organizational difficulties and failure to finish tasks.
The diagnostic criteria for ADHD, is defined as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity- impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and more severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development. Individuals with ADHD may be easily distracted or procrastinate in completing a given task.
According to the DSM-IV-TR (American Psychiatric Association, 2000), an ADHD diagnosis must include six or more symptoms of inattention or of hyperactivity and impulsivity; and these symptoms must be consistent and pronounced for at least six months and to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with typical development.
- ADHD is a neurobiological condition (Brown, 2008) which affects executive functions such as attention, memory and the ability to inhibit actions. Scientists believe that individuals with ADHD may have an undersupply of a neurotransmitter called dopamine which plays a crucial role in learning and in the creation of norepinephrine. A reduced supply of dopamine results in impulsive symptoms and low levels of norepinephrine, which in turn results in hyperactivity and distractibility.
- ADHD has three subtypes: Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive and Combined. It is noteworthy to point out that some research scientists argue that there is only one type of ADHD with varying degrees of symptoms. For additional information see: DSM-V: Options Being Considered for ADHD [PDF]
- Symptoms of ADHD vary across developmental stages. Children in early childhood and middle childhood show difficulty following directions or making decisions. ADHD negatively impacts an individual’s socio-emotional well-being during the adolescent years. Adolescents with ADHD show increased signs of low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Adolescents and young adults with ADHD may be more at-risk for substance abuse.
- ADHD has a high heritability rate and comorbidity. ADHD often co-occurs with other disabilities such as learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.
- Treatments for ADHD currently focus on reducing the symptoms of the disorder and improving functioning. Management of ADHD symptoms in adults includes medication, psychotherapy, education, training or coaching, or a combination of these treatments (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008). ADHD coaching is a one-on-one approach treatment for helping students with goal setting and focuses on self-management, time management, and organizational skills.
Brown, T. E. (2008, February). Executive functions: Describing six aspects of a complex syndrome. http://www.chadd.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Especially_For_Adults&Templ
National Institute of Mental Health (2008). Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/complete-index.shtml
Organizations/Websites on ADHD
ADHD Coaches (ACO) http://www.adhdcoaches.org/
The ADHD Coaches Organization is a professional membership organization that provides resources and training for those interested in ADHD coaching.
Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) http://www.add.org/
The ADDA is a non-profit organization focused on providing information and resources to adults living with ADHD.
ADDitude Magazine provides various information and resources to individuals learning, working, and living with ADHD.
Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD) http://www.chadd.org/
CHADD provides ADHD resources to individuals, parents, teachers, and professionals via 200 local chapters throughout the United States.
National Resource Center on ADHD http://www.help4adhd.org/
The National Resource Center on ADHD, a program of CHADD, serves as the national clearinghouse for science-based information and resources on ADHD.
UDI Online Project. (2011). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs.
For scholarly publications, grants, and research on ADHD, visit
Landmark College Institute for Research & Training (LCIRT)
For books and general information on ADHD, visit
Landmark College Library LD, ADHD & ASD Reserarch Collection
For additional information:
Landmark College Institute
for Research and Training
PO Box 820
1 River Road South
Putney, VT 05346