Mental Health Monday–ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

The teacher calls your name. You blink, vaguely aware twenty pairs of eyes are on you. Your fuzzy mind snaps back into focus. Sure enough, you’ve been called on. But you have absolutely NO idea what the topic is.

Your teacher’s eyebrow arches so much you think it’ll break in half.

*sigh* You’ve been caught not paying attention again. It’s not fair. It’s not your fault…

Two hours later, your sitting in study hall and your leg is shaking so bad that Richter scales 100 miles away are catching the vibration. Tapping your pencil a million times a minute only annoys the teacher’s aid. Even though you’re supposed to sit quietly and get your homework done, sticking your butt in the chair is WAY too hard. You get up and wander the room, touching everything as you go by–much to the dismay of the TA. She tells you to sit down, but you keep meandering. After the third warning, you get sent to the office.

Sitting outside the principal’s office isn’t any easier…

After supper, you literally CAN’T sit still. But it’s after dark, so you can’t go outside. You run up and down the stairs until your mom yells at you, then you try doing backflips off the couch. Without enough leverage, you land in a heap, striking your head on the coffee table.

You need stitches…again…

Classic signs and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (formerly Attention Deficit Disorder) include:

  • Symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattentiveness before age 7
  • Symptoms continue for at least 6 months
  • Symptoms affect at least 2 areas of functioning, ex. classroom, home, playground, social settings

Inattentive symptoms include:

  • Being easily distracted, missing details, forgetting things, frequently switching from one activity to another
  • Having difficulty maintaining focus
  • Becoming bored
  • Having difficulty completing tasks
  • Not seeming to listen
  • Daydreaming, becoming easily confused, and moving slowly

Hyperactive symptoms include:

  • Fidgeting and squirming in seats
  • Talking nonstop
  • Blurting out inappropriate comments
  • Being impatient
  • Having difficulty waiting for your turn

Treatment includes medications (stimulants such as Ritalin, Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant that has been shown to alleviate ADHD symptoms, and/or Strattera, a non-stimulant medication) as well as behavioral modification (such as consistent routines, structure, consistent parenting with good boundaries and limit-setting, using lists, and schedules/calendars).

So, writer buds, do any of your characters have ADHD? Rick Riordan’s character, Percy Jackson, did. He really did a fine job of describing what it was like for poor Percy to have ADHD.

What other examples can you think of?

Don’t forget to check out Lydia’s Medical Mondays post!

Also, this information is for writing purposes only and is NOT to be construed as medical treatment or advice.


21 comments on “Mental Health Monday–ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

  1. Ciara Knight says:

    Funny you posted this. I think the powers that be are telling me something. I have a MG story and the MC is based on one of my boys with Sensory Integration Disorder. I’ve had the basic story outlined for years, but after seeing Lightening Thief I abandoned it because of the similarity of MC having a disability in one realm which makes him a hero in the other. I may go ahead and write it even if it never goes anywhere since it is the story of my heart.
    Great post!

  2. Doris says:

    Great post. My 10-year stepson was Dx with ADHD several years ago. So, I’m quite familiar with the symptoms. The book seems interesting. I’ll check it out.

    Have a great day!


  3. That’s some great research! I know a few children with this disorder and it’s hard for them to function without meds. I’m fortunate that my child does not suffer from this.


  4. LOL! I got to your disclaimer at the bottom just as I was thinking, “some of those behavious modification techniques look good…”

    Great post. I don’t have any characters with ADHD, but it’s good to know a little bit about it for future projects.

  5. Amie Borst says:

    don’t forget the executive functioning skills! most ADHD kids aren’t organized at all. and memory problems….oy. my 10 yr old has NO working memory. it’s amazing how ADHD can have such an impact on a child’s ability to learn.

    i think my mc, Cindy, is ADHD to a small degree 🙂

  6. Indigo says:

    I remember my daughters 3rd grade teacher obsessing – half of her students had ADHD. The woman even had forms detailing the symptons. She tried to convince me my daughter was a classic example and needed to be put on medication.

    Turns out Skye was incredibly bright and bored with the classwork, as it didn’t challenge her. In the end the teacher tried playing doctor with the wrong kid.

    However, I have see kids suffering from ADHD and you can’t help but feel for them, tortured with frentic energy and constant distractions.

    Great post! (Hugs)Indigo

  7. Hmm. This sounds like half my family. 😉

    Great post! Bookmarked for later reference.

  8. Lynn Rush says:

    Great post. I love how you described it. Made it really understandable. I don’t have a character with ADHD. . . yet. . . we’ll see if pops up, though.

    Great post.

  9. Paul Greci says:

    I’m pretty familiar with ADHD. Many of my students were dealing with this diganosis. Some on meds and some not. I tried to build movement into our classroom routines. I have one character in one story who has some mild ADHD symptoms.

  10. Meds are not a safe remedy for all people with ADHD. I know adults that have this disorder. An addictive personality may be ultimately worsened with addictive medications meant to solve one problem but causing another more serious one. Someday, when the pain is less in my heart, I may write fiction that features such a character.

  11. Cinette says:

    Great post! IThank goodness my girls don’t suffer from ADHD.
    Unfortunately, I have a couple daughters who took up the neurotic tendancies from both sides of the family;-) Yes,it can be (really) amusing at times, but also heartbreaking at others. I’ve been flipping through your Mental Health Modays looking for info on neuroticism. What can be done for these poor souls?

    • lbdiamond says:

      Neuroticism, for most, is a marker of good mental health. That’s not to say people with neuroses don’t suffer, they do just like everybody else, but are more often considered “the worried well” than someone with a more damaging impairment. Someone who is “neurotic” often is able to maintain fairly good relationships, they can function in work and school, and they can pursue interests with passion. As such, neuroticism isn’t a mental health diagnosis, per se, but can be considered an approach to managing life or stressors.

      Providing support, love, and specific feedback can often calm a “neurotic.” (And pretty much every other person on the planet, cuz really, don’t we all want a little validation?) 😉

  12. When I was a kid, I think we all had that problem.

  13. Lydia K says:

    I liked your description. I think I know how it feels more to have ADHD. It’s so different reading from textbook.
    Thanks Laura! You rock.

  14. lbdiamond says:

    Ciara–go for it! Write that story!

    Doris–thanks for sharing. ADHD can be challenging.

    Clarissa–it’s true, the medications can be really helpful!

    Ishta–LOL! I think we all suffer from inattention now and then. Especially when deadlines approach. 😉

    Amie–certainly, trouble with keeping schedules and staying organized are hallmarks of ADHD

    Indigo–great point! That’s why it’s important to get an evaluation by a professional.

    Deb–LOL! Thanks for bookmarking.


    Paul–great idea! work with the inattention–love it! 😀

    Carol–i hear what your saying and often behavioral modification with meds gives great benefit, however, studies show that behavior modification alone still leaves people with chronic symptoms. Studies also show that children with ADHD who aren’t treated are actually more likely to pick up drugs and alcohol. Adults (about 25% of kids go on to have adult ADHD) with drug and alcohol problems can be treated with “non-stimlulant” medications.


    Lydia–thanks! 😀

  15. Arlee Bird says:

    I think I had some attention deficiency problems and still do, but hyperactivity was never a problem with me. Writing about a character with hyperactivity might have a lot of potential.

    Tossing It Out

  16. My 10 yo son has it and I suspect so do I.

    We both loved the series. I only wish it were true about ADHD and being demigods. 😉

  17. Firstly, I just wanted to thank you for visiting my post about Natalie Fischer. Really appreciate it. Yeah, Percy was awesome and Rick did a great job.

    My oldest son is 17. He was (skeptically) diagnosed at age 3 1/2. Seriously, it was so obvious. Finally, two years later, he attended a day clinic where they officially diagnosed him as ADHD. We spent the next xyz years using behavior modification with him. Then, halfway through 4th grade, he was put on meds. He only stayed on them for 10 months, though. He lost too much weight, but it bought us time to help him.

    Amazing post!! Thank you. I’ll surely be back.

  18. scott savins says:

    Excellent read thankyou for the info

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