Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition affecting millions worldwide.

In the UK, the prevalence of ADHD in adults is estimated at 3% to 4%, with a male-to-female ratio of approximately 3 to 1.

However, these numbers are likely grossly underestimated, and my own experience certainly backs that up.

I’m currently supporting an ever-increasing number of clients who are in their 30s/40s/50s who have only recently been diagnosed.

In this article, I wanted to further raise awareness of the common traits associated with ADHD, and I’ll shed light on the unique perspectives and abilities that individuals with ADHD possess.

(N.B. I have included just some of the most common ADHD traits. However, not everything I cover here is included in the diagnostic process, and not every person with ADHD has every one of the traits listed. This article should not be used as a diagnostic tool).

To watch the extended version, which includes why ADHD is often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, click here.

25 Common ADHD Traits

1.  Inattention

Individuals with ADHD may struggle to maintain focus or complete tasks if they do not stimulate them. They can become easily distracted by external stimuli or their own thoughts. This trait can make it challenging to complete tasks requiring sustained attention.

However, there are practical tools that you can use to structure tasks and the working day to limit the impact of inattention. I’ve written an article designed to support ADHD children with schoolwork. However, the same strategies apply to adults. Click here to read it.

2. Hyperfocus

Contrary to inattention, hyperfocus is a trait that enables individuals with ADHD to become wholly absorbed in activities they are passionate about.

During hyperfocus, they can demonstrate unwavering concentration and exceptional productivity. Time seems irrelevant, and in an intense hyper-focused state, the person may not remember to eat, drink or visit the bathroom.

3. Impulsivity & Risk Taking

Impulsivity is characterised by acting without thinking through the risks and potential consequences.

Individuals with ADHD may find it difficult to control impulses, leading to spontaneous decisions such as excessive shopping, promiscuity, and inhibition. It can also include responding negatively to perceived rejection.

It can also include the chronic impulse to interrupt others, finding it incredibly difficult to wait their turn during conversations, and often talking over others.

4. Restlessness

Restlessness and a constant need for movement are common traits in ADHD. Individuals may fidget, tap their feet, pick their nails, chew the inside of their mouths, shift their positions frequently to release excess energy, etc. These ‘ticks’ are known as stimming.

5. Creativity

ADHD often brings forth a wealth of creativity, allowing individuals to make unique connections between ideas and think outside the box.

6. Intense Emotions

People with ADHD may experience emotions intensely, which can foster deep empathy and strong connections with others.

7. Forgetfulness

ADHD can lead to forgetfulness about appointments, deadlines, or personal belongings, which can be frustrating for those affected.

8. Time Management Challenges

Individuals with ADHD may struggle with time management, leading to difficulties in prioritising tasks and meeting deadlines.

There’s a common misconception that those with ADHD are always extremely late. However, they can also be excessively early – something I suffer from.

9. Impaired Executive Functioning

Executive functions, such as planning, organising, and initiating tasks, can be impaired in individuals with ADHD. Again, these can be mitigated with productivity tools.

I’ve written an article that can help with this, ‘9 Tools to Enhance Productivity’, which explains simple, easy-to-use techniques to boost productivity regardless of whether you have ADHD or not.

10. Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity manifests as excessive movement and restlessness, particularly in children with ADHD. In adults, it may display as intense/over-enthusiasm for the latest project, idea or hobby. This behaviour can appear overwhelming or puzzling to neurotypical people.

11. Sensitivity To Stimuli

ADHD can heighten sensitivity to sensory stimuli like sounds, lights, or textures (clothes labels can be a particular issue), leading to distractibility in specific environments, e.g. cafes, noisy offices, concerts, etc.

Noise-cancelling earplugs, which are widely available, can significantly lessen the effects of background noise whilst still being able to focus on conversations.

12. Procrastination

Difficulty initiating tasks or decision-making can lead to procrastination, even when the tasks are essential and non-negotiable.

Task transition also falls into this category, i.e. finding it extremely difficult to move from one task to another, e.g. getting out of bed, stopping doom scrolling, getting in the shower, etc.

13. Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria

Being hugely triggered by perceived rejection, criticism or abandonment. For more information on this topic, read/listen to my article here.

14. High Energy Levels

People with ADHD often exhibit high energy levels, contributing to their restless and enthusiastic nature.

15. Object Permanence

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is a good summary of object permanence. Those with ADHD often forget whatever isn’t immediately in front of them. For example, food at the back of the fridge, work under a pile of other stuff, hobbies in a spare room, and even friends and family they’ve not seen for a while.

16. Perseverance

Despite facing challenges, individuals with ADHD often exhibit remarkable perseverance in pursuing their goals.

17. Social Difficulties

ADHD traits can impact social interactions, leading to impulsive behaviours or difficulties with reading social cues.

18. Non-Linear Thinking

ADHD can encourage non-linear thinking, facilitating unique problem-solving approaches and insights.

19. Overwhelm and Emotional Dysregulation

Individuals with ADHD may feel overwhelmed in busy or chaotic environments, leading to emotional dysregulation.

20. Out-Of-The-Box Thinking

ADHD traits can foster unconventional thinking and open-mindedness, allowing for innovative ideas and solutions.

21. Cluttered Vs Extremely Tidy/Clean Environment

Those with ADHD often fall into two categories: those who live in a chaotic, cluttered environment or the other extreme of a spotless/tidy home or workspace.

‘Doom piles’ are common, e.g. piles of washing, unopened mail, dishes, etc., even for those who fall in the ‘clean/uncluttered’ category. Hoarding (including ‘dirty’ hoarding) is often associated with ADHD.

22. Struggle With Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene may not come easily to those with ADHD. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t clean! They can procrastinate over showering (especially hair washing), shaving, taking off makeup, cleaning teeth, etc., and it can take enormous willpower to shift into gear.

23. Poor Memory

People with ADHD can easily forget why they walked into a room, what they were saying halfway through a conversation, where they put their keys, the names of people they’ve known all their lives, etc.

24. Anxiety and Depression

People with undiagnosed ADHD are often misdiagnosed with anxiety and depression.

25. Justice Sensitivity

Unfairness or perceived unfairness can be a massive trigger for people with ADHD and can cause overreaction and an explosion of emotions.

The Wrap-Up

ADHD encompasses a diverse array of traits that shape the experiences of individuals living with the condition.

While some traits present challenges, others bring forth brilliance and unique perspectives. Understanding these traits is crucial in providing appropriate support and recognising the potential of individuals with ADHD.

By fostering awareness and empathy, we can create a more inclusive society that celebrates the diverse strengths and capabilities of all individuals, regardless of their neurodiversity.

What Next?

If you have anything you’d like to add on this topic, or if you have any questions you’d like me to answer, please leave them in the comments section below. I love interacting with you and really value your feedback.

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Finally, as always, thank you for your continued support.

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