ADHD Basics

ADHD is a complex, often confusing, and overwhelming condition for many people. Research into the why, how, and what of ADHD is ongoing and constantly evolving. What we do know is that ADHD is neurological. There is brain research that shows commonalities between ADHD brains. What we also know is that it is a nervous system disorder, it is not just the brain, but how the brain communicates to the body through our central nervous system. This unique ADHD nervous system results in individuals that operate differently in a world that is set up for the average neurotypical human. This blog post and the following in this ADHD Basics series will look at what it is like to live with ADHD, ADHD subtypes and challenging symptoms, the ADHD brain, and more.

What is ADHD?

“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that impacts the parts of the brain that help us plan, focus on, and execute tasks.” (Dodson, 2019) ADHD can be defined as a developmental impairment of the brain’s executive functioning. It very important to understand that ADHD is not actually a mental illness, behaviour disorder, or learning disability. Both adults and children can be diagnosed with ADHD.

What does it look like?

ADHD can present as one of three subtypes: Inattentive, Hyperactive/Impulsive, or Combined. The type of ADHD that one is diagnosed with will determine the kind of symptoms that one struggles with. This means that people with ADHD have a unique nervous system with unique needs. See ADHD Basics: Subtypes and Symptoms for a full list of diagnostic symptoms. But in general, people with ADHD struggle with attention, executive functioning (including memory, organization, flexible thinking, and self control), and mood. There are also a variety of secondary symptoms or impacts of ADHD. These secondary impacts result from the lifelong toll of trying to fit into a world set up for a typical nervous system. The expectations and demands of the world around us has a big impact on those with ADHD. This can lead to self-esteem issues, lack of confidence, and depression.

neilson mahoney adhd coaching

ADHD also looks like intelligent, creative, out of the box thinkers. People with ADHD are often competitive, hyper focused when motivated, and fantastic problem solvers. If you have ADHD you may have noticed that sometimes you are the only one in a room that can put certain pieces of a problem together. People with ADHD are often highly imaginative and creative, their ability to have multiple ideas come together can be astounding. People with ADHD are also often empathetic and compassionate. Part of this is based on research that indicates that people with ADHD are highly sensitive and this likely helps them to pick up on other’s emotions. 

Additionally, as one manages their complicated ADHD day to day they also build understanding and compassion towards others that also struggle. Interestingly, individuals with ADHD actually perform better with more than one thing on the go, especially when movement is involved, making them super multitaskers. Essentially, having ADHD is not just a list of challenging diagnostic criteria and symptoms. It is also the root of the creative and amazing brains of so many interesting and unique people.


If you choose to meet with me as a coach we will look at all of the pieces of the puzzle to help us to set goals that work for you or your child’s unique brain. There are elements of ADHD research and certain techniques that we can bring to the table, but what is most important is what works for you or your child. Tapping into strengths, finding methods that work, and individualizing our plan is key. Research also shows that the sooner interventions are in place the better. Creating a successful plan early can help reduce secondary symptoms and the social impact of ADHD., Aadditionally the sooner we can wire the brain to choose systems and techniques that work for you or your child the better.


Additional Resources:

Information for Parents:

CHADD downloadable ADHD Fact Sheet:

What is ADHD – ADDitude Magazine:

Strengths Based ADHD and Behaviour Coaching

Check out my Services pages to sign up for a preliminary bundle of appointments and for more details. You can also sign up for a 15 minute free consultation to discuss your needs.


I look forward to hearing from you.