Technically, adult onset ADHD isn’t possible, because it’s a neuro developmental disorder, meaning we’re born with it (or at least something interferes with the development of the nervous system early in life).
The DSM requires symptoms to be present before age twelve, but not necessarily fully meeting criteria for diagnosis. Of course, the DSM could be wrong.
The studies supporting adult onset state these adults did not have ADHD in childhood. That means they didn’t have ADHD in the sense of meeting criteria for the diagnosis, but probably they had ADHD brains, they just didn’t show the full basket of symptoms until they reached the challenges of adulthood.
If they were diagnosed with ADHD as adults, using DSM criteria, that means they had several symptoms before age twelve. That’s a criteria required for adult diagnosis.
I had many ADHD symptoms in childhood, primarily behavioral, but breezed through school until I hit the wall in college. Then, oh boy!
ADHD symptoms presumably reflect a delay in the maturation of the brain, a lagging behind normal. ( Possibly this is the cause in only some of us?) This explains why about half of children who meet criteria no longer meet criteria as adults, even though their brains still have not fully matured into “normal” brains and still show the abnormalities characteristic of ADHD.
At this time, if we say someone “has ADHD” we mean they meet DSM V criteria.
DSM V Criteria for ADHD in Children
Questions O the Day:
If someone didn’t meet criteria for ADHD in childhood, and so couldn’t be diagnosed then, but now meets criteria as an adult, which means they had several ADHD symptoms as a child, didn’t they have ADHD brains all along?
They had an ADHD brain but not ADHD?
So did they have ADHD as a child even if they didn’t meet criteria?
So should we say they have “Adult Onset ADHD?”
So do you find this as confusing as I do?
Quotes O the Day:
Me, trying to explain to my wife why her laptop isn’t working properly again:
“It’s technology. That’s the nature of technology.
“It’s part of the innate perversity of inanimate matter.”
“Probably the demons again.”