Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common medical condition which affects the behaviour, self-control and attention of those who have the condition. The symptoms of ADHD can widely differ from person to person, as well as being different in both boys and girls. 

However, in most cases the symptoms of ADHD can be noticed from a young age and can become even more noticeable whenever a child’s environment or circumstances change, such as starting school.

Many cases of ADHD are diagnosed when the children affected are between ages of 6 – 12 years of age. As children progress in their lives into early adulthood the symptoms of ADHD normally improve however many adults may still find that they have additional problems later in life due to their ADHD.

What Causes ADHD?
The exact cause of ADHD still remains widely unknown, however the condition tends to run in families and can be passed down genetically. There are other contributing factors as to what can cause ADHD such as being born with a low birthweight, premature birth as well as things like smoking or abusing drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. 

Whilst ADHD can be diagnosed and affect people with any intellectual ability it is much more commonly found in people who have learning difficulties.

Symptoms of ADHD are categorised into two different types of behavioural issues. These include inattentiveness, and impulsiveness and hyperactivity. The majority of people with ADHD suffer from either one or the other or both of these problems however, this isn’t always the case. Occasionally people may actually have attention deficit disorder(ADD) as opposed to ADD, whereby they only struggle with inattentiveness and do not suffer from behavioural problems. ADD can be much less obvious so often goes unnoticed. 

The symptoms of ADHD are usually noticed in children before they have turned 6 however can sometimes remain unnoticed for years and in some cases into teenage years. Symptoms occur normally in one or more situations, for example at school and at home.

Symptoms of inattentiveness:

-	Easily distracted/short attention span
-	Careless mistakes (e.g. in homework)
-	Forgetfulness
-	Inability to stay focused on the task at hand
-	Inability to follow instructions
-	Struggle to organise tasks
-	Constant switching between tasks

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness:

-	Fidgeting 
-	Inability to sit still
-	Inability to concentrate 
-	Excessive movement
-	Excessive talking 
-	No sense of danger
-	Can’t wait their turn
-	Carrying out actions without thinking
-	Interrupting people’s conversations

How ADHD Can Affect People Pre-Diagnosis
Many people can go into early adulthood without being diagnosed with ADHD. People who are undiagnosed may often struggle to pay attention to their tasks at hand or struggle to stay organised, focused and suffer from irritability and mood swings. 

This can often leave them struggling to cope with life as an adult and can affect things like obtaining jobs and other social activities. They may often develop and struggle with other mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression or some personality disorders. 

Many of these issues can be resolved by speaking to a doctor and getting prescribed proper medication to help combat the symptoms of ADHD.

How ADHD Can Affect People Post-Diagnosis
Coping with ADHD can be challenging and often times children suffering from ADHD can experience issues such as poor organisational skills, ability to sleep and following simple instructions throughout their day to day life. 

Even when diagnosed and medication is being taken to help reduce the issues of ADHD it can still have a negative impact on things such as social situations and can be easily triggered by certain environments such as school.

Adults can also struggle later in life even after diagnosis and proper prescription medication. ADHD can effect things like social interactions and relationships. Adults can also struggle with other mental health problems down the line. 

However, having been diagnosed and medicated, coping with ADHD is certainly possible.

Some ways to cope with ADHD after diagnosis include:
-	Planning your day
-	Setting boundaries for yourself
-	Stay positive
-	Exercise
-	Try to control impulsiveness
-	Stick to a routine

By combining medication with some of the above mentioned coping mechanisms, this should hopefully help getting through day to day life with ADHD.

ADHD, in children, teenagers and adults

The impact of ADHD in individuals pre and post Diagnosis

During the coronavirus crisis, many families who have children were finding that their child was struggling to adjust to a new routine. Then came the return to school, isolate, return to school, go to your bubble, isolate, return to school rythm that was taking over everyone’s everyday. 

More signs and symptoms have been emerging due to these frequent and inconvenient changes.

Anxiety was emerging, distress, not wanting to go to school, being subdued in activities that were seen as passionate hobbies that now seem excessive, enjoying being alone, noticing that your child doesn’t make as much eye contact, limited facial expressions, not inviting friends over or showing much interest in other people.These are just a few of the symptoms we here from concerned parents on our enquiries number before they schedule an autism assessment. They notice more and more signs and symptoms that have been highlighted because of the global pandemic that we have faced.

Many of the parents that we speak to and also adults are finding that as they reflect on there early years, there’s more and more evidence to support this diagnosis. 

the global pandemic of Covid 19 has made such a drastic change to everyone’s ‘daily routine’ that they have had to do some research.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. It typically develops in early childhood and can impact an individuals social and communication and relationship.

While there is currently no known single cause of autism, early diagnosis helps a person receive the support and services that they need, which can lead to a quality life filled with opportunity.

Autism and Corona Virus

How so many families noticed symptoms they didn't before the virus

Research from the university of Lincoln discovered that children with autism experienced less meltdowns when they were with their pet dog, not only this but their parents stress levels were significantly reduced too.

Many of the parents that we speak to and also adults are finding that as they reflect on there early years, there’s more and more evidence to support this diagnosis.

the global pandemic of Covid 19 has made such a drastic change to everyone’s ‘daily routine’ that they have had to do some research.

It has also been found that children with Autism that have pets have been observed to be more confident, experience less anxiety,  and support families to do more things together they otherwise may not have found possible with a pet for their child.

What has also been found is that children and teenagers experience non judgmental, unconditional love, increasing their serotonin levels and boosting self regulation.

Autism and Pets

Pets. The world of difference they can make to someone with autism.

As a teacher, it was always upsetting working with a child who was clearly on the autistic spectrum but whose needs had yet to be met. It was as if they were swimming in an alien environment with a limited understanding of how to navigate.
When I trained other teachers, I encouraged them to enter the room from the perspective of a child with autism. I asked them to spot every picture on the wall and take in all the details on the board. I would point out every noise and distraction to them. Then, as young people walked at them from every direction, some brushing against an arm or dodging at the last minute, I asked them to try to keep a spatial distance of one or two metres.
The levels of anxiety that the trainee teachers expressed are likely nothing compared to the young person who has no control of when they come and go from the room. 
Entering and staying in a classroom is only the first hurdle you see an autistic child overcome. Learning often involves following multiple instructions issued at the same time. It also involves social interaction and collaboration with other children. Any outward show of anxiety from the young person might be perceived as a disruption, and any strategy they receive to ease their stress is seen as special treatment.
Even the superpower of the autistic child becomes a challenge in the classroom. Hyperfocus allows these young people to concentrate on a single activity for hours if that topic has triggered interest in them. The classroom and the school is designed to move activities every eight to ten minutes.
Learning to teach an individual with autism is about getting to know the child, as it is with any young person in your room. The autistic label, even when attributed, doesn’t give you an instruction manual. Your role as the young person’s teacher is to work out what works for them. 
One young person that I taught needed me to shape individual projects for her to do at my desk while the rest of the class followed my lesson. She was able to recall the lesson I taught and the work she did on the project.
For another young man, he needed to be sat by the door with his back to the wall, sideways to the table. He needed all the lesson instructions on a sheet of paper, and the teaching assistant would point to the part of the lesson when he looked uncomfortable.
When you can direct the young person’s approach to the world towards the act of learning, the autistic child can flourish. The challenge for the teacher is to solve the unique puzzle they present in the classroom

Autism in the classroom. A teachers experience

A teachers perspective of autism in the classroom is an interesting read for parents and teachers.

Early Developmental Signs in Autism

signs in early years of Autism

Autistic people have many different types of facial expressions, which whilst they may be similar to the facial expressions of a non-autistic person, they can mean a completely different emotion is being expressed and may speak an entirely different, non-verbal language to regular facial expressions. 

This could lead many people to believe that the often experienced ‘social difficulties’ which many autistic people experience in their day to day lives could potentially be a result of the difference in certain facial expressions which are produced by non-autistic people and people with autism. 

This poses the issue that non-autistic people may just have some trouble reading and understanding the many facial expressions of autistic people as opposed to them actually having difficulties with expressing their emotions.

Social Interactions
Facial expressions tend to smooth over any social interactions. For example, a simple smile can help to show that one is content or happy, and a frown may show empathy or discontent. Many people who have autism have a lot of difficulty with finding and making the correct facial expression to coincide with the emotion that they are currently feeling at that particular moment in time. 

Autistic people may actually remain entirely expressionless or produce facial expressions which are hard to read or interpret. 

Face to face interactions are often a give and receive trade off of inner emotion in social situations. Many autistic people often struggle with expressing spontaneous emotion, especially in social situations which can lead their facial expressions to not match what an autistic person could be saying or feeling. 

However, when it comes to intentional emotional facial expressions, autistic people have less of a hard time reciprocating their emotions through facial expressions in social situations often at the start or end of the social interaction where they are feeling a preconceived emotion, such as happiness. 

The Differences to Neurotypical Facial Expressions
No two autistic people are the same, therefore no two facial expressions will mean the same thing for either autistic person. They could have similar conventional facial expressions but the emotion behind the expression is entirely different to one and other. 

Some autistic people may even make facial expressions which are incredible similar to that of a neurotypical facial expression. However, in general the faces of neurotypical people and autistic people may express emotion entirely differently. 

When an autistic person is feeling sad or angry, they may express a specific facial expression that is not typical of neurotypical people. As a neurotypical person may not expect to see the different  facial expression from the person with autism, they may not recognise at first that that the expression portrayed on the autistic persons face is sad or angry. This can lead to some confusion when trying to understand the emotion expressed on the face of somebody with autism.

On the other hand, an autistic person may not recognise the facial expression of a neurotypical person when they are feeling sad or angry. This can lead to difficulty understanding each other when neurotypical people interact with autistic people as each will not recognise the difference and may fail to socially comfort one and other. 

Facial expressions are widely used to aid in communicating without the use of verbal language in both social and non-social situations. By bettering our understanding of the types of facial expressions an autistic person can produce we can further our inner understanding of the deeper emotion at hand that is being expressed. 

By nature, neurotypical people will often imitate facial expressions in social situations automatically. People with autism struggle to recognise emotions as well as expressing them leading their facial expressions to not mimic those around them, especially as many autistic people struggle with things such as social ques. 

Be Patient & Learn to Listen
It can be difficult to understand facial expressions at the best of times. But often times clues can be found in what is being said or communicated. Many autistic people will form habits of certain facial expressions when they are feeling particular emotions. 

To help gain a better understanding of what emotion they are attempting to convey it is crucial to listen closely and have lots of patients. Whilst a person with autism’s facial expression is showing one thing, it could actually mean something entirely different, such as pouting or frowning when confused or having a frown when they are actually deeply angered or upset.

Facial Expressions in Autism

The facial expressions that are and are not their.

There are at present no medication treatment options which can cure autism spectrum disorder (ASD) including all its symptoms. However, there are a range of different classes of drugs which can be used to reduce symptoms presented by patients with ASD.

Medication tends to be effective when used in combination with behavioural therapies. These work in combination by minimising symptoms such as aggression and enables the patient to focus more on learning and communication activities.

In the UK, the only approved medication for autism is Risperidone. A psychotropic medication approved for managing the behavioural symptoms of ASD.

All medication carries a level of risk which needs to be monitored closely. Families of patients should work closely with their healthcare practitioner to ensure the safe use of medication.

Healthcare providers often use medications to deal with a specific behaviour, such as to reduce self-injury or aggression. Minimizing a symptom allows the person with autism to focus on other things, including learning and communication. Research shows that medication is most effective when used in combination with behavioural therapies.1

The FDA has approved the use of some antipsychotic drugs, such as risperidone and aripiprazole, for treating irritability associated with ASD in children between certain ages.2 Parents should talk with their child's healthcare providers about any medications for children with ASD.

Other drugs are often used to help improve symptoms of autism, but they are not approved by the FDA for this specific purpose. Some medications on this list are not approved for those younger than 18 years of age. Please consult the FDA for complete information on the following listed medications.

All medications carry risks, some of them serious. Families should work closely with their children's healthcare providers to ensure safe use of any medication.

· Anti-psychotic (e.g. Risperidone)

o These types of medications affect the brain of the person taking them. The anti-psychotic drug risperidone is approved for reducing irritability in 5-to-16-year-olds with autism.

o These medications can decrease hyperactivity and reduce withdrawal and aggression among people with autism.

· Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (e.g. fluoxetine)

o This category of drugs work in the body by reducing chemical imbalances in the brain. Serotonin (happy chemicals) is regulated better with SSRIs helping brain cells to receive and send chemical messages.

o SSRIs may help to reduce the frequency and intensity of repetitive behaviours and helping to decrease anxiety

· Central nervous system stimulants(e.g. methylphenidate)

o This group of medication is often prescribed in patients who have increased hyperactivity.

o They are commonly used in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with autism.

· Tricyclic antidepressants (e.g. Clomipramine)

o These medications are another type of antidepressant used to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive behaviours.

o These drugs seem to cause more minor side effects than do SSRIs. They may reduced irritability, hyperactivity, inadequate eye contact


· Anticonvulsants (e.g. sodium valproate)

o These groups of drugs are used for seizures

o Almost one-third of people with autism symptoms have seizures or seizure disorders.

· Hypnotics (e.g. melatonin)

o This is commonly prescribed in patients with insomnia in ASD

o Melatonin has a sedative effect by mimicking the natural sleep pattern

Medications often used for Autism

There are at present no medication treatment options which can cure autism spectrum disorder