About ADHD

About ADHD

ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in Canada, affecting 4-6% of adults and 5-7% of children or approximately 1.8 million Canadians. Everyone who has ADHD is impaired, or has more difficulty than normal, with regulating their attention or focus. This is often referred to as inattention.


Impairment in regulating attention is experienced as:

  • Difficulty staying focused, especially when things are seen absorbing 
  • Being over focused and not able to break focus when things are interesting or stimulating
  • Difficulty switching focus especially when over focusing
  • Not being able to focus on the most important thing (prioritizing focus), rather than the most stimulating thing


Many people with ADHD are unaware of their ADHD symptoms 

Those with ADHD are unable to experience what it is like not to have ADHD, so functioning with ADHD impairments is normal. People with ADHD are often told that they are just lazy and unmotivated. Since they may have great difficulty at school or in a learning environment due to their ADHD, they often feel that they are not as bright and capable of learning as other. This is not true. In fact, ADHD does not affect someone’s IQ. Those with ADHD are just as smart as others; they just learn differently and need specific supports. 


Many people with ADHD also have difficulty with regulating their emotions 

Those with ADHD become frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry more easily; they are also less able to express these emotions in acceptable ways. They are often more irritable and moody. ADHD is a disorder of self-regulation; this means that those with ADHD find it more difficult to control or regulate their behavior. They know what they should be doing but are unable to do it. They might blame others for their problems and not realize how their own behaviour affects those close to them. ADHD can look very differently in different people. 


Some people with ADHD may be hyperactive (move excessively) and impulsive (act before thinking) along with their attention problems; this is Combined ADHD. Others may only have difficulty with attention regulation; this is primarily inattention ADHD. Attention issues, while not the most annoying symptoms, are of most concerning symptoms, because they cause difficulty in learning, at work and in daily functioning.


Quick Facts

  • ADHD is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder. It has been documented for more than 200 years. 
  • ADHD is a common childhood disorder leading to impairments in learning and behavior. 
  • ADHD remains under-recognized, under diagnosed and misdiagnosed in Canada. 
  • Eighty percent of children diagnosed with ADHD continue to qualify for a diagnosis in adolescence and at least 65% continue to be impaired by symptoms in adulthood. 
  • All forms of attention regulation are impaired in ADHD. Those with ADHD can over-focus and have difficulty breaking their focus, if something is stimulating, as much as they have problems with under focusing. 
  • ADHD is recognized by all major medical associations and government health agencies as a “real” medical 
Additional Resources

What you need to know about ADHD

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