April Newsletter: Ask the Expert!
ADHD is typically observed and diagnosed in boys more as they tend to present with more ‘externalised’ behaviours, which could be more disruptive in a classroom setting. Therefore, I highlighted more.
Girls with ADHD tend to have more ‘internalised’ difficulties, and their hyperactivity and impulsivity tend to be more around chatting with friends or friendship difficulties, which may be harder for parents and teachers to recognise.
There has been an increase in both boys and girls seeking an ADHD diagnosis as there has been increasingly more awareness of this disorder in general and on social media. This can lead to some young people feeling they have an ADHD diagnosis. Still, their attention, hyperactivity-impulsivity difficulties may be related to different disorders such as anxiety, learning difficulties, autism, or depression.
You can do many things to help your attention and fidgetiness, whether you have ADHD or not. These include having a good routine, using aids to remember things and remind you, getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, and getting lots of exercise.
Several things could help improve attention even without an ADHD diagnosis. These include
Please see the link for a podcast that may be useful to explore this further.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain struggles to process information, reaction times increase, you respond poorly to environmental signals, and you can be more confused. It’s harder for you to remember things, and you often have to keep re-reading information to understand and process it. Research has shown that increasing the amount of sleep (to 8hrs) can increase your grades in exams and tests to roughly a 20% improvement. Therefore, implementing a good sleep routine is important to ensure you get as much quality sleep as possible.
Eating a balanced diet is important in ensuring good brain health and helping with focus. Skipping meals and being hungry will impact our brain’s ability to focus on work as it will be trying to determine where the next meal is coming from. The brain also likes a steady supply of nutrition. Our brains need about 400-500kcal a day to function well, so restricting diets will impact cognitive ability.
Brain-boosting foods include green leafy vegetables, fatty fish like salmon, berries (blueberries, strawberries, etc.), walnuts, and caffeine.
The higher your physical fitness is, the better your brain is greater the improvement in attention and concentration, working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control, and processing speed.
Mindfulness is an innate human capacity to deliberately pay full attention to where we are and our experiences and learn from them. Jack Komfield (2005)
Mindfulness can be beneficial for improving attention in both ADHD and non-ADHD people. Due to many of our current lifestyle choices (phone use, social media, immediate access to information), our brains are learning not to have sustained attention. Mindfulness is a way to improve concentration by practicing this type of focus.
Several studies have demonstrated that caffeine increases both selective and sustained attention. Caution must be used as too much caffeine could cause difficulty with sleep and ‘jitteriness.’
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