ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

ADHD introduces different challenges for the different age cohorts. For example, ADHD in childhood may present differently than for a teen with the disorder. Adult ADHD has its own features as well. Examples of these different features based on age group include.

Childhood ADHD

  • In constant motion
  • Fidgety and squirmy
  • Talk excessively
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty staying on task
  • Have trouble playing quietly
  • Interrupt classmates

Teen ADHD

  • Easily bored
  • Relationship problems
  • Declining academic performance
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Restlessness
  • Low achievers
  • Gives up on tasks, doesn’t complete assignments
  • Difficulty in test-taking
  • Trouble prioritizing tasks
  • Disruptive in class, interrupting the teacher
  • Compulsive eating
  • Substance abuse/Self-medicating

Adult ADHD

  • Prone to angry outbursts
  • Makes errors on the job due to inattention
  • Avoids tasks that require sustained attention
  • Forgetting important due dates for projects
  • Easily overwhelmed, becoming confused
  • Difficulty sustaining attention at work, college, or social events
  • Fails to complete assignments at work or school
  • Poor listening skills
  • Tendency to be late for work, appointments, or meetings
  • Easily distracted by external stimuli

Because of the differences in presenting symptoms, interventions should be appropriately tailored to the age of the ADHD client.

Experiential Therapy for ADHD

While evidence-based approaches are the first line of treatment for ADHD, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medications (Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, Concerta, or Focalin), experiential therapy provides an important adjunctive therapy for helping these individuals integrate new coping skills into their regular routine. These offer clients with ADHD actionable steps toward improving their ability to focus on a task, prioritize steps to completing it, and following through to completion.


An example of this is rock climbing. Within the safe and controlled climbing gym, the client is presented with a task—successfully completing a climb. This activity is especially well-suited for the individual with ADHD, as it teaches them to focus on a mental task while feeling stressed. Through the guidance of the therapist, the client learns to participate in the challenge while staying on task until its conclusion. Successfully completing the climb helps boost self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-discipline.

To complement the experiential aspect of therapy, it is also important to help clients with ADHD adopt healthy eating habits. Guiding clients toward making more nutritious food selections will help improve cognitive functioning and focus.