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Module 3: ADHD/ADD

What do we mean by ADHD/ADD

Though Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been widely diagnosed in some countries for some time, it wasn’t until 2008 that the UK Government, on advice from NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), accepted it as a valid diagnosis. In addition, literature around ADHD has largely focussed on childhood though more recently it has been understood that ADHD can exist in adults too.   

Inattention and impulsivity are the main characteristics of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) with hyperactivity an additional characteristic of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The characteristics are not seen to the same degree in all people diagnosed with ADHD and healthcare professionals recognise that there are 3 main combinations of characteristics:

  • Some people have predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type (ADHD).
  • Some have predominantly inattentive type (ADD)
  • And some have a combined type (this makes up the majority of ADHD cases).

For the purposes of this case study we will refer to the banket term of ADHD for all three types of profile.

Female student working on her laptop, whilst her pet dog watches

Unlike dyspraxia and dyslexia, which often co-exist with ADHD and have some common impacts on students, some aspects of ADHD can respond to medication.

Students with ADHD are likely to have impaired working memory and processing speed and issues with executive functioning.   

As a student’s academic success is often dependent on their ability to attend to tasks and tutor expectations with minimal distractions, a student with ADHD may struggle within the typical Higher Education (HE) academic environment. Activities associated with acquiring necessary information for completing tasks, completing assignments and participating in discussions with their tutors and peers are all activities that can potentially be problematic for the student with ADHD.

Hyperactive or impulsive behaviours may include: fidgeting, having trouble interacting quietly, interrupting others and always being ‘on the go’.

Characteristics of inattention may include: being disorganised, being forgetful and easily distracted and finding it difficult to sustain attention during tasks or learning activities.

Whilst ADHD behaviours occur to some extent in all of us, the difference between ADHD and normal behaviour is the degree of the problem and the difficulties it causes. Individuals with ADHD show this behaviour to a significantly greater extent and severity.

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