Answering Googles most asked questions about ADHD

These are the questions I got from the “People also ask” section after I typed in ADHD into google.

As a peer I will answer these questions and compare my answer to the result. My opinions are based on my lived experience with ADHD, my experience with public mental health system here in New Zealand. I also have worked as a peer support worker for 3 years and a board of trustees member at a local community mental health centre where I live. So I will do my best to give my honest opinion – But disclaimer, this is not substitute for medical professional advice, this is just a fun exercise to have a peer to peer talk about life with ADHD. Often sharing our experiences opens up common language and dialogue for others to talk about their mental health and their struggles. And that is obviously really important thing to have for support – peer support is some of the most validating and best self care based therapy you can have for life with ADHD.

So with that introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at the questions:

What are the nine symptoms of ADHD?

The google answer:
Adult ADHD symptoms may include:

  • Impulsiveness.
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing.
  • Poor time management skills.
  • Problems focusing on a task.
  • Trouble multitasking.
  • Excessive activity or restlessness.
  • Poor planning.
  • Low frustration tolerance.

My response:
Well the list isn’t wrong, but it’s so much more than this bullet point list and each one is complex and not that specific. But from a medical point of view this is a list of diagnostic criteria that they look for adult ADHD diagnosis. From my perspective it really misses out a lot of the emotional regulation issues, which is where a lot of the confusion happens for people getting help or articulating their experience. It really is problematic that we are missing that information out there to better aid everyone in getting the right care for their mental health.

What does ADHD mean?

The google answer:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children.

My response:
ADHD is an acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And is categorized as a neuro-developmental brain disorder. It’s for both Children and Adults, it doesn’t discriminate, it is a chronic life-long disorder as it is to do with the literal physiological make up of a persons brain. Thus making it a neuro-type rather than a disorder per say.. but more on that later.

It is also poorly misunderstood and poorly represented. Both in it’s psychological description and it’s varying presentations and the name ADHD itself does nothing to help describe that accurately and is a very frustrating stigma all ADHD people face.

What causes ADHD?

The google answer:
While the exact cause of ADHD is not clear, research efforts continue. Factors that may be involved in the development of ADHD include genetics, the environment or problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development.

My response:
They don’t know, is the short answer and the only one I can credibly state without it being untrue. But I do know it is not caused by bad parenting. It is not caused by vaccines. It is not poor discipline. It is not a behavioural condition that can be changed.

ADHD is one of the most well studied psychiatric disorders and there is lots of on-going research all the time. There is even testing and research being done on the genomes of ADHD. Which will be very telling in future discussions about ADHD and also the moral sanding in which this starts to dive.

Is ADHD a serious mental illness?

The google answer:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a mental illness that affects the way you act and focus. ADHD is usually diagnosed in school-aged children, but it can continue to cause problems into adulthood. About two-thirds of people living with ADHD continue to experience symptoms as an adult.

My response:
Firstly. ADHD is not a mental illness. It is medically known as a neuro-developmental brain disorder and a psychiatric disorder. The words mental illness are such a negative way to describe an ADHD person – The reason for this, as I can only explain from my experience, but do know this is a wider acknowledged narrative in the ADHD community, is that ADHD is still an integral part of our life experience. And discussions around it being an illness is somewhat like denying a part of you as if it is something that is broken, when often it is the external world inability to accommodate our neuro-types that is the obstacle. We often meet all the way when it comes to real-life every day human expectations.

Regarding the 2/3rds part – no, the symptoms of ADHD change from childhood, to adolescence and then adulthood. It is impacted and moulded and shaped by life experiences, people develop different coping mechanisms. Some people have more rigid structure and therapy and support. But the ADHD never “goes away” – you don’t turn a magic number and ‘poof’ ADHD is gone.

And is ADHD serious – yes! It is serious, it impacts a persons every living moment. It is literally how a persons brain is. So it is serious when some of the more debilitating symptoms run up against obstacles we must navigate every day on top of our lives. It is work and then some more for almost everything we do. So yes, it is serious and often very debilitating.

How a person with ADHD thinks?

The google answer:
People with ADHD live in a permanent present and have a hard time learning from the past or looking into the future to see the inescapable consequences of their actions. “Acting without thinking” is the definition of impulsivity, and one of the reasons that individuals with ADHD have trouble learning from experience.

My response:
ADHD people have issues with executive function, working memory and emotional regulation. This impacts every action as it is all about the part of the brain that controls decision making, ordering thoughts and short term/long term memory. So often for me I struggle to sustain action towards a task and it is difficult for me to block out other types of stimuli while doing that. It’s not that I “Act without thinking” quite often I have thought quite a lot about it, almost over-thinking too.
It depends on so many things how ADHD presents and impacts a persons “thinking”. I do make impulsive decisions but many of them stem from something else too, it’s not as simple as ‘making a bad decision’ because some of them are good. Sometimes it’s very useful quick thinking makes a lot of creative projects come together and is sometimes the driving force of my very creative nature.

I think if you want to know how a person with ADHD thinks and you are undiagnosed and wondering – my advice is, a lot of things you probably think are ‘normal for everyone else’ is not ‘normal’ and they are things you are probably struggling with, it is not ‘typical’ to be struggling with them as often or as much and that can come in different forms. That is a key to insight on how an ADHD person thinks, if you have good suspicion you have ADHD and want to know what other ADHD people think like, well probably a lot like you, and you can always reach out to your peers online too. Talk to ADHD people, read my blog! You can read about their narratives, I am certainly happy to share my own!

Can ADHD go away?

The google answer:
ADHD changes over time, but it’s rarely outgrown

While some kids may seem to outgrow the disorder (or no longer have symptoms that result in impairment), in most cases kids with ADHD grow up to be adults with ADHD.

My response:
Short answer, No. ADHD changes from childhood to puberty to adulthood and other stages in life, through out all stages in life and it looks different in everyone who has it because ADHD is inter-sectional. It crosses all cultures and ethnicities and countries – a person is shaped by so much.

It is a literal physiological difference in the brain. So it is a chronic condition that will change and present differently throughout life, sometimes being more impairing than others, very debilitating for some, but it doesn’t go away. Also I personally wouldn’t want my ADHD to go away, it is part of who I am.

What are 3 types of ADHD?

The google answer:
Three major types of ADHD include the following:

  • ADHD, combined type. This, the most common type of ADHD, is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive behaviours as well as inattention and distractibility.
  • ADHD, impulsive/hyperactive type. …
  • ADHD, inattentive and distractable type.

My response:
It’s all the same thing, mostly. ADHD just presents differently in different people. There is no real way to type them but if you had to sum it up and say I do this part more frequently than others than some people would describe themselves as either combines, hyperactive or inattentive. I was diagnosed with inattentive type-a (I don’t know what the type-a part even actually means but) however I am definitely hyperactive in some parts of my life physically, definitely in my mind and many others are combined. I can’t really pin things down to this is this as there is a lot of cross over. I think it is useful to have this to describe particular parts of ADHD but calling them “types” is too specific in my opinion.

Are people with ADHD smarter?

The google answer:
People with ADHD aren’t smart

But the truth is, many of these people are highly intelligent and creative; even more creative than their non-ADHD counterparts. They’re also better at managing crisis and are more intuitive thinkers.

My response:
ADHD people are no smarter or less smart than any other person. There are so many factors that go into it again to judge across entire neuro-type and blanket statement “People with ADHD aren’t smart” is just out right insulting, really.

Is ADHD a form of Autism?

The google answer:
Answer: Autism spectrum disorder and ADHD are related in several ways. ADHD is not on the autism spectrum, but they have some of the same symptoms.

My response:
I don’t know the answer for this – there is much cross over on a diagnostic level, but to rule out ADHD as being part of the spectrum altogether, I do wonder if we need to redefine this as we redefine ADHD at some point. The reason for this is many people with ADHD have a ‘comorbid’ diagnosis or learning disabilities. I would like to see more studies on this myself as someone who is exploring the possibility of being both ADHD and Autistic.

Are you born with ADHD or do you get it?

The google answer:
Genetics. ADHD tends to run in families and, in most cases, it’s thought the genes you inherit from your parents are a significant factor in developing the condition. Research shows that parents and siblings of a child with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD themselves.

My response:
Finally an answer I can get behind. I have heard however a person can have head trauma and develop ADHD like symptoms, whether that is still considered ADHD or not I do not know.

Does ADHD make you bored?

The google answer:
People with ADHD have less diffusion of dopamine in the brain’s synapses than do people without ADHD, so they do not get the same degree of satisfaction from doing ordinary tasks. That lack of satisfaction is felt as boredom, and it saps a person’s motivation to continue.

My response:
Yea, I couldn’t have said it better. I would also add we invented the term “bored to tears” – honestly, the boredom can be painful, floating between hyper fixations or being somewhere you just can’t be from pure boredom/frustration etc can be really horrible and it does really wear you down over time.

What foods should be avoided with ADHD?

The google answer:
Some of the common foods that can cause ADHD reactions include milk, chocolate, soy, wheat, eggs, beans, corn, tomatoes, grapes, and oranges. If you suspect a food sensitivity may be contributing to your child’s ADHD symptoms, talk to your ADHD dietitian or doctor about trying an elimination diet.

My response:
No. There is no evidence to suggest that ADHD can be treated by altering diet unless you are eating poor food which impacts every human the same. A good nutritious diet, with lots of protein which is good for the brain is what an ADHD person needs. Some ADHD people may have specific dietary needs but as a group correlation there is nothing that suggests all ADHD are more prone to any particular dietary requirements or medical conditions.

How do ADHD kids behave?

The google answer:
ADHD causes kids to be more distractable, hyperactive, and impulsive than is normal for their age. ADHD makes it harder for kids to develop the skills that control attention, behaviour, emotions, and activity. As a result, they often act in ways that are difficult for parents manage.

My response:
OK, yes ADHD kids are all those things, but they are also ADHD children who will grow up to be ADHD adults, they experience all those things the same way an adult does but often they cannot articulate the source. ADHD kids need your patience and ADHD kids need you to also be accepting that they are this way not because of the way they “act” or “behave” often a child is doing those actions out of frustration, overwhelm, living with ADHD, self-expression.

I know as an undiagnosed ADHD child I was severely misunderstood and reprimanded for literally being myself. This actually impacted me a lot as an adult, it made me anxious, it exacerbated my RSD (rejection sensitive dysphoria). ADHD does make it harder or children to develop certain skills and there is a noticeable delay but not always , hence why so many ‘inattentive type’ children do not get diagnosed until adult hood. Children are not “acting out” because they do not care or are lazy. They are struggling and need your help and accommodations and learning environment that they can thrive in instead of being disabled by it.

What if ADHD is left untreated?

The google answer:
Children with ADHD often have trouble functioning at home and in school and can have difficulty making and keeping friends. If left untreated, ADHD may interfere with school and work, as well as with social and emotional development.

My response:
Leaving ADHD untreated can really lead to a lot of negative coping mechanisms. There is going to have to be some active involvement in helping with the more debilitating aspects of ADHD as it can and often lead to deteriorating life quality and gets in the way of almost everything in life. A person can develop anxiety disorders and depression. ADHD should not go untreated or unmanaged in some sense, it is still part of the every day experience. It is important self care to at least get to know your ADHD and work alongside it. It’s not about fighting the ADHD.

Is ADHD a big deal?

The google answer:
Sure, the ADHD diagnosis might sound trivial to anyone who hasn’t lived with it. Left unrecognized or poorly managed, however, it certainly can be a big deal. The tendency to minimize ADHD springs, it seems to me, from its highly variable nature: It affects individuals, who have many other aspects to their personality.

My response:
Absolutely! It impacts so much of my life, good and bad, it’s a big deal for anyone who is ADHD because it does have an impairment in our lives, it makes it hard to keep up – it needs to be known more as a bigger deal so it is easier for us to access care and accommodations where we need them. And better to work in society and reach our dreams too.


Published by Jenn has ADHD

Jenn Parker, New Zealand. ADHD Advocate and Peer.

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