Understanding What ADHD Is (and Isn’t)

Your Complete Guide to What Is ADHD

What Is ADHD?

Let me guess, either you or someone close to you have ADHD. If so, you’re in luck. This complete ADHD guide has the answers you need to put your mind at rest and help you decide on the best course of action.

In this guide, I use the term “ADHDer” a lot because it carries less stigma than “people with ADHD.” You pronounce the term “ADHDer” as AYE-DEE-AYECHH-DEE-ER.

Some of the topics this guide covers are:

  • What is ADHD?
  • Diagnosis and treatments for ADHD.
  • Is ADHD a disability?
  • Surprising facts about ADHD
  • What to do if you think you or your child is an ADHDer.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Once known as ADD, ADHD is hereditary. ADHD is a neurological disorder, meaning it originates from your brain.

Most ADHDers are born with ADHD. We either inherit it from our parents or grandparents. The environment and society a person grows up in can also influence ADHD. Just not to the extent genetics can.

Please note ADHD almost always affects a person for their entire life. The good news is that most ADHDers develop coping skills, so it is not so bad in adulthood.

ADHD impairs a person’s self-control. ADHDers have trouble focusing, controlling their emotions, and maintaining relationships.

The Different Types of ADHD

But don’t go assuming all ADHDers are the same. There are three types of ADHD. 

1. Inattentive Type

Inattentive ADHD makes it difficult for you to control your attention, organize, and remember.


You have difficulty listening and following directions. You often forgo responsibility or do things in an inefficient manner.

You are usually late to meetings or school. You don’t get much done with the time you have, which makes doing school work or “adult” work harder.

You forget about mundane things, like where you put your phone or your car keys. Short-term memory problems are common with all types of ADHD and especially noticeable with this type.

2. Hyperactive-impulsive Type

Someone with this type of ADHD struggles with self-control. They move around a lot and blurt things out, for better or worse.

On the hyperactive side, they feel the need to move around. They talk a lot. On the impulsive side, they hardly ever think before they say or do.

This can be the most self-destructive type of ADHD. 

3. Combination Type

You get diagnosed for this type of ADHD when you exhibit at least six or more symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD. (12+ symptoms total.)

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

Not easily. It takes time, especially if you are an adult.

While we are on the subject, ignore any myths you might hear about ADHD. For example, you may have heard males have ADHD more than females. We know for a fact males and females have ADHD at almost equal rates.

To get an ADHD diagnosis, you will need to see a specialist. Most “regular” doctors don’t have the time or training to diagnose ADHD.

Whoever you choose to see will determine if you have at least six symptoms of ADHD. They will need to review your medical history, so have it ready.

Some examples of ADHD symptoms include:

  • Fidgeting
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty resisting impulses
  • Challenges with socialization
  • Daydreaming/Lack of focus
  • Communication problems

Every specialist has their own way of doing things. However, ADHD can be mistaken for other disorders like autism or dyslexia. So expect lots of screening to prevent misdiagnosis.

Don’t expect to get an ADHD diagnosis from one doctor’s visit.

Next page: ADHD treatment options and more.

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