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How ADHD Affects Adults Differently than Children

Nearly 6 million American children have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), making it one of the most common behavioral conditions in the country. And although it’s often associated with childhood, it can affect adults too.

In fact, about 60% of people who have ADHD as children continue to experience symptoms as adults. Understanding how ADHD affects adults differently than children is crucial for effective management, and our team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates is here to help.

We offer telehealth therapy and medication management for adults with ADHD, and here’s what you need to know about how the condition evolves as you grow older.

Recognizing adult ADHD

The classic signs of childhood ADHD include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. Children may talk excessively, be unable to sit still, struggle to wait their turn, or be disruptive in classroom settings.

But the symptoms of adult ADHD don’t always mirror these behaviors. Instead, adults with ADHD often grapple with more subtle, internal challenges.


A hallmark of ADHD is persistent inattention. For adults, this can look like struggling to stay focused on tasks, making it difficult to complete projects or meet deadlines. Forgetfulness, disorganization, and frequent distractions are other common issues.


Hyperactivity often diminishes in adulthood, but impulsivity remains a significant aspect of adult ADHD. Impulsive decisions, trouble with impulse control, and difficulties in considering long-term consequences can affect your personal and professional relationships.

Emotional dysregulation

Adults with ADHD may experience heightened emotional responses, ranging from irritability and frustration to mood swings. Without proper proactive treatment, managing your emotions can become a constant challenge — and it may even begin to interfere with your relationships.  Struggles with inattentive listening, forgetfulness, and impulsive reactions can put a strain on your connections with others.

Executive functioning

Executive functioning includes tasks like planning, organization, and time management. These skills can be difficult for adults with ADHD, resulting in issues like chronic lateness, missed appointments, and problems prioritizing multiple tasks.

Managing adult ADHD

Because the symptoms of adult ADHD are often more subtle, many adults go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The societal expectation that ADHD is a childhood disorder may also contribute to this oversight.

If you suspect you have adult ADHD, our team of therapists can help you get the right diagnosis and treatment for your needs. Managing adult ADHD involves a multimodal approach that may include lifestyle adjustments, therapy, and medication.

We may recommend implementing practical strategies in daily life, like creating structured routines, using organizational tools, and breaking down tasks into manageable steps. Therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can also be a valuable component of managing adult ADHD.

In certain cases, we also prescribe medication to help manage symptoms. Medication is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and we carefully monitor your progress, adjusting your dosage as needed.

Managing adult ADHD isn’t just about addressing your symptoms — it’s about understanding and embracing your individual strengths. We’re here to help you cultivate a supportive environment, build self-awareness, and develop coping mechanisms to improve your quality of life. Schedule your telehealth appointment to get started today.

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