Children with ADD/AHDH grow up to be adults with ADD/ADHD.  To paraphrase Gerry Adams ‘They don’t go away you know!’

When working with children & students at Hummingbird Learning Centre, because parents stay with us during the sessions, often a parent will begin to recognise that they too have traits of a learning difference but went undiagnosed throughout their life.

So, what is it like to be an adult with ADD/ADHD? It is a life-long neurological condition, but because everyone’s experience is unique, not everyone presents with the same symptoms. Here are some ways that life is difficult for adults with ADD/ADHD:


Dopamine is a natural feel good chemical produced in the brain and people with ADD/ADHD tend to crave its feel-good factor.  This can lead to impulsive activity to get that instant gratification such as buying shoes or bags, or constantly rechecking emails & social media.

Internal Voice

Many adults with ADD/ADHD suffer internally with a mind that never rests. The internal voice is constantly talking, often with a negative commentary. They can find it difficult therefore to relax and switch off. Even when tired, sleep can often elude them as their internal voice goes over & over their day.


While the benefits of fidgeting are well documented (I am a huge proponent of the benefits of fidgeting), fidgeting in adulthood is frowned upon. I know people who need to walk while focusing on a telephone call, however in an office environment this can cause a lot of problems with co-workers. Likewise, the clicking of pens, chewing & other sensory releases that adults may not even know that they are using. Resentment can grow in the workplace & a lack of understanding of ADD/ADHD in adults can cause a lot of friction.


Untidy workspaces and homes can cause a lot of difficulty for adults with ADD/ADHD. Very often it is interpreted by others as laziness or a lack of interest. The reality is that being organised is very energy consuming and they can become overwhelmed by it. However, if you were to ask that person to find something on their messy desk, they usually can without a problem. Which begs the question – who says a desk must be tidy all the time?


Adults with ADD/ADHD can often be very empathetic, but this wonderful trait can work against them. They can often take on the problems of others, allowing themselves to become engulfed by them.

So much focus is placed on helping those with learning difficulties at school that it is easy to forget that young children eventually become adults. The resources available in school are not available in the workplace and so some people with ADD/ADHD may struggle in silence to navigate the world as adults. Increased awareness by employers and co-workers will help, but ultimately what is needed is acceptance that we are all different and it is that diversity that makes for vibrant & interesting workplaces.

Hummingbird Learning Centre is not just for kids, we do a lot of work with adults who struggle with literacy and diagnosed conditions such as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia & dyspraxia  For more on our adult program, contact us on 087 2996054 or .

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