ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is characterized by distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness or hyperactivity. Considered a neurological condition, it is genetically transmissible. Symptoms are present from childhood on however some symptoms such as inattentiveness, may be more prominent in girls than in boys. The intensity of symptoms falls on a spectrum. Symptoms can worsen for example during hormonal changes or by stress. They can also improve with regular fitness and adequate sleep.
The term ADHD has come a long way since people with these symptoms were once considered to have 'moral deficit disorder'. However this term is still inaccurate and pejorative and carries a huge societal stigma. People with ADHD CAN focus sometimes to a fault, and a fair number are not hyperactive.
ADHD is considered a disability primarily because of the impact the condition can have on executive functioning which we rely heavily upon to succeed in today's society. For example, neurons in the prefrontal region of the frontal lobe are involved in processes such as planning, integrating information, modulating behavior and emotional responses and prioritization.
Diagnosis is primarily made by a thorough interview and determining whether specific ADHD symptoms have been present throughout one's history. In establishing a proper diagnosis, it is also important to address whether other conditions may be present such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and learning disabilities. Sometimes a neuropyschological evaluation can be helpful as a tool to aid in the diagnosis of conditions.