More About EFs
What is ADHD?
ADHD is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and was previously known as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). ADHD is a neurogenetic condition that is divided into three "presentations": Hyperactive-Impulsive, Inattentive, and Combined. Doctors and scientists used to believe that ADHD affected only children, but it is now known that 60 to 80% of ADHD kids now carry symptoms into adulthood.
What causes ADHD?
ADHD is NOT caused by bad parenting, video games, or too much sugar. It is a genetic condition and the second most commonly inherited characteristic, only after height. If a person has ADHD, the likelihood that a parent or sibling also has ADHD is 4 to 5 times (400 to 500%) more likely than in the general population. Many parents aren't diagnosed with ADHD until their kids are diagnosed.
ADHD is physiological disorder. There are multiple proven physical differences in the brains of ADHDers.
A recent study published in Lancet Psychiatry found that five key regions of the brain were found to be of a smaller volume in children with ADHD versus a control group without ADHD. Note that these brain size difference have nothing to do with cognitive intelligence: the amygdala (controls emotional regulation, recognition of emotional stimuli, and inhibiting of response to that stimuli), the caudate nucleus (impacts goal-directed behavior), the putamen (involved in learning and stimuli response), the nucleus accumbens (impacts rewards and motivation), and the hippocampus (where memories are formed).
ADHD is impacted by multiple neurotransmitters, especially Norepinephrine and Dopamine, which are chemicals that are passed from neuron (brain cell) to neuron to stimulate or supress the neurons' function. The ADHD child or adult may have only 10 to 25% of the typical amount of neurotransmitters in their brain. Norepinephrine deficits cause inattention and distractability, making it hard to lend the appropriate amount of attention, focus on a task, engage in planning, or have an objective relationship with time (correctly estimate how much time has passed and how much time it will take to complete a certain task). Dopamine deficits cause hyperactivity and impulsivity, making it hard to have accurate self-awareness and to resist impulsive behavior and actions.
ADHD medications work to increase the production of these neurotransmitters, and 32 independent research studies have shown that ADHD medications used in children actually promote brain development--so by the time these children are adults, their brain has become more neurotypical and their ADHD symptoms are less life-impacting versus ADHDers who did not take ADHD medication as children.
ADHD is an Executive Function Disorder. What are Executive Functions?
Executive Functions (EFs) are the mental processes that we use to plan, focus our attention, prioritize, self-motivate, remember instructions, regulate our emotions, inhibit our behaviors, and manage multiple tasks and steps to achieve our goals. In ADHD, there is a 30 to 40% reduction in EFs, so ADHDers have an EF age that is 1/3 less than their chronological age. In other words, a 10 year old will have the EF maturity of a 6 to 7 year old, an 18 year old will have the EF maturity of an 11 to 12 year old, and a 30 year old will have the EF maturity of an 18 to 20 year old. EF maturity increases until age 30, when it levels off. EF deficits at age 30 tend to remain at that level of deficit.
What are the impacts of ADHD?
ADHD impacts multiple facets of life, including task-related, social-related, and emotional-related. See the graphic below for a list of these impacts. ADHD Coaching focuses on lessening these impacts to your life, and equipping you with the ability to manage these impacts.