The Most-Searched ADHD Topics of 2021


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I realize 2021 isn’t quite over, but I have ADHD and am very impatient. When I get an idea in my head, it has to happen right now, so you’re welcome.

10) Executive Dysfunction

Executive functions enable us to plan for the future, focus our attention, remember instructions or information, and regulate our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

While there is no single, accepted definition of executive functions (EFs), most experts agree that EFs are complex, and necessary for executing tasks in the service of accomplishing a goal.

Our Executive Functions are broken into roughly five categories:

1. Inhibition (impulse control, self-regulation)

2. Cognitive flexibility and problem-solving

3. Working memory (hindsight and foresight)

4. Organization and time management

5. Emotion regulation

One of my most in-depth and comprehensive articles published to date, my article explains executive functions and how they relate to everyday life:


9) Is ADHD a Learning Disability?

Nope.

ADHD is not a learning disability, but it is highly comorbid. Approximately 3–4% of the general population has a learning disability (LD), whereas more than 45% of people with ADHD also have an L.D.

Learning disabilities of written expression, such as dysgraphia, are even more common, with a comorbidity rate of over 60%.


8) ADHD in Women

As a female-presenting person (who identifies as sometimes female, sometimes non-binary, always “tomboy-ish”), my ADHD diagnosis took more than three decades. I wasn’t diagnosed until 36 and my story is not uncommon.

In October, I wrote an article touching on some of the reasons that women, non-binary, and female-presenting people have a much more difficult time receiving an accurate diagnosis.


7) Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) is an interesting one. So interesting, I’ve written two separate articles on the subject.

RSD is a term made up by Dr. William Dodson describing severe physical and emotional pain suffered when people encounter real or perceived rejection, criticism, or teasing.

RSD is not in any DSM or other diagnostic manual. Research has demonstrated that repeated negative feedback from others can make some people with ADHD more sensitive to perceived rejection and criticism.

If a significant number of our social interactions involve criticism or rejection, then it stands to reason that we would anticipate and perceive rejection more often than others.

On one hand, isn’t being hypersensitive to perceived rejection or criticism a normal response to actually being constantly rejected and criticized? Pathologizing a human response that most people would have is not helpful.

That said, many have found the description of RSD very helpful, a way of validating their own experience. Some people with ADHD may indeed be more sensitive to rejection, even without having experienced excessive criticism in their lives.

This is why it’s not so straightforward. There isn’t enough research, and the claims that Dr. Dodson has made are only substantiated by his extensive clinical experience; they are not peer-reviewed, nor have they been challenged by controlled studies.


6) Is ADHD a Disability?

Is ADHD a disability? Yes.

Well, yes and no.

Yes, ADHD is a disability in that it is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts significant aspects of a person’s life.

However, what is often most disabling about being neurodivergent is the lack of understanding, knowledge, and accommodation in general society.

These topics are much too complex to cover in one or two articles, but you’re in luck! I compiled a series of articles dispelling myths and challenging misconceptions about ADHD.


5) Is ADHD a Mental Illness?

No.

(Okay, that one was easy.)


4) DSM-V ADHD & ADHD Checklist

Yes, people like a simple checklist they can go over in order to see how many ADHD signs and symptoms they, or their child, exhibit.

Checklists are an over-simplification of a very complex neurodevelopmental disorder, however it is okay to use something simple as a stepping stone to seeking advice from a qualified professional.

On that note, I break down the DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing ADHD, and outline the symptoms a significant portion of people with ADHD report, yet are not in the DSM-V.


3) ADHD Iceberg

The ADHD Iceberg is a pretty good visual to help us understand that the externalized behaviour we see is only a very small piece of the puzzle, but why is it so important to understand this?

We are very quick to assume a person’s intent based on the behaviour we observe, but there is much more below the surface.

Many of us know these things intellectually, but when it comes down to supporting children, or dealing with behaviour, we often revert back to old habits.


2) Is ADHD Genetic?

Is ADHD Hereditary?

I wrote this piece in response to unsubstantiated claims made by certain Internet doctors that ADHD is purely caused by trauma, which is not accurate.

Unfortunately, many people with ADHD have experienced trauma, and certainly trauma will exacerbate and worsen ADHD symptoms. Neither of those are the same thing as actually causing a neurodevelopmental disorder.

There is no straightforward “ADHD gene”, as ADHD is a complex combination of neurodevelopment, genetics, environment, and socialization. I’m not a geneticist, nor a neurologist, but I did write an article outlining why ADHD is not directly caused by trauma.


1) ADHD Paralysis

It’s totally a thing, but not really a thing…

ADHD Paralysis is kind of a cool term, but it’s pretty non-specific. It’s another catchy term that isn’t in the DSM-V, or any diagnostic manual, but that does a good job of describing a common experience for many people with ADHD.

In my article, I break it down in relation to problems with executive functioning.


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References

Bondü, Rebecca & Esser, Günter. (2015). Justice and rejection sensitivity in children and adolescents with ADHD symptoms. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 24, 185–198. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-014-0560-9

DuPaul, G. J., Gormley, M. J., & Laracy, S. D. (2013). Comorbidity of LD and ADHD: Implications of DSM-5 for Assessment and Treatment. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 46(1), 43–51. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219412464351

Gnanavel, S., Sharma, P., Kaushal, P., & Hussain, S. (2019). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and comorbidity: A review of literature. World journal of clinical cases, 7(17), 2420–2426. https://doi.org/10.12998/wjcc.v7.i17.2420

Jellinek, M. (2010). Don’t Let ADHD Crush Children’s Self-Esteem. Clinical Psychiatry News. https://mdedge.com/psychiatry/article/23971/pediatrics/dont-let-adhd-crush-childrens-self-esteem

Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., & Crowell, E. W. (2000). Learning Disabilities and ADHD: Overlapping Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33(5), 417–424. https://doi.org/10.1177/002221940003300502

Mayes, S. D., Breaux, R. P., Calhoun, S. L., & Frye, S. S. (2019). High Prevalence of Dysgraphia in Elementary Through High School Students With ADHD and Autism. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23(8), 787–796. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054717720721

Published by Jillian ADHD 2e MB

Jillian has Child and Youth Work diploma as well as a BA in Psychology. Jillian worked on the front lines of Social Services agencies from 2003 - 2012. Jillian has taken numerous continuing education courses and has attended various workshops focused on supporting neurodiverse children, in particular children with ADHD.

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