By Dr. Kevin Ross Emery
With high profile celebrities like NBC’s “The Voice” judge Adam Levine, TV news broadcasters like Phoenix-based Kaley O'Kelley and others like “The ADHD CEO” Greg Selkoe now publicly owning their ADHD diagnosis, it begs many questions: How does one know if they have adult ADHD — what are the signs? Can problems with punctuality, organization and focus be due to adult ADHD or are these difficulties simply related to stress or other lifestyle issues? Is adult ADHD sabotaging your career, business or relationship? And, can ADHD actually manifest itself later in life after a diagnosis-free childhood?
One does not truly outgrow ADD/HD. One hopefully just learns how to better understand, work with and manage both the gifts and drawbacks of the ADD/HD impact. In some cases the individual finds passions, talents and gifts and through hyper-focusing them to become enormously successful. Yet another may struggle with addictions, low self-worth, self-esteem issues, or never “get their act together,” living far beneath their potential.
To outgrow ADD/HD is similar to saying, “I am going to outgrow having blue eyes or brown hair.” It is simply part of the package.
Some of the most troublesome of the ADD/HD issues that showed up in childhood do get mediated through them physiologically “catching up” to their peers. Nevertheless, the emotional and psychological damage of not fitting in, never living up to potential, never understanding why one is different are issues for both the diagnosed and undiagnosed.
Here are 20 signs and character traits that may signify adult ADHD:
- Organizationally challenged
- Trouble starting and finishing projects
- Miss social cues
- Difficulty being subtle
- Hyper-focused to the point of losing track of time
- Multi-tasks to the point of distraction
- Does not work well in traditional workplace setting
- Marital troubles
- Poor listening skills
- Chronic lateness
- Angry outbursts
- Trouble prioritizing
- Gets bored easily
- Naturally rebellious
- Addictive personality
- Tendency towards self medicating
- High energy
- Highly creative
- Good problem solver, innovator, inventor
- When interested love to learn, share and teach new things
There are untold millions of adults who were never diagnosed in childhood and are dealing with ADD/HD symptoms in an unproductive manner. The result are unhappy, underutilized lives that are not harnessing the incredible potential that comes with the ‘gift’ of ADD/HD.
Recognizing that, with proper self-awareness and management, there are many ways adult ADD/HD can prove beneficial is key for those with the condition to be genuinely happy and succeed at home and at work.
Whether ADD/HD was identified in childhood or later as an adult, the emotional and psychological damage of not fitting in, never living up to your potential, never understanding your why you are different, or feeling like you are a failure often takes its toll into adulthood. Many may struggle with addictions, low self-worth, self-esteem issues or, in extreme cases, end up in the criminal justice system.
Yet, in some cases ADD/HD individuals channel their passions and talents to achieve enormous personal and professional success. Knowledge is power, and a proper adult ADD/HD diagnosis is paramount to managing the condition and actually realizing the many gifts ADD/HD has to offer the individual — and society at large.
Dr. Kevin Ross Emery is an international speaker and the author of Managing the Gift of your ADD/HD Childand Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches to Attention Deficit Disorder,which are built upon more than 14 years of experience working with individuals of all ages living with Attention Deficit Disorder – and a lifetime of personal experience with the condition. He may be reached online at www.mydrkevin.com.