The difficulties of the person with attention deficit disorder in adult life

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LIMA, Isadora dos Reis [1]

LIMA, Isadora dos Reis. The difficulties of the person with attention deficit disorder in adulthood. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. 04 year, Ed. 07, Vol. 08, pp. 05-12. July 2019. ISSN: 2448-0959


This article will discuss the attention deficit disorder-TDA in adult life. Its objective is to identify the difficulties encountered by an adult with ADHD, as well as to analyze what these difficulties are and to seek improvements in the quality of life for this adult. This article refers to a bibliographic research based on the theoretical concepts of Silva (2008), Arruda (2006) and Barkley and Benton (2011) on their respective adult theories with this disorder.

Key words: Attention deficit disorder, ADHD in adults, adult difficulty with ADHD.


Attention deficit disorder or also known as attention deficit disorder may or might not be linked to hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Although the combined subtype of this disorder is very common, this is the presentation of the same when it is predominantly of the unattentive type. Attention Deficit Disorder is the term that originated the name of the disorder in Portuguese. “Disorder” can be understood by disorder, disorder or disorder, for this reason there are these denominations of the disorder, but they are equivalent to the same deficit.

This article will be told from the problematic about what are the difficulties that a person with attention deficit disorder has in adulthood. Often the adult with this disorder transfigures the figure of a person “lazy” or “sloppy”, when in fact and quite the contrary are not only necessarily personal characteristics, but rather a clinical pathology described by the association American Psychiatric.

The aim of this is to identify the difficulties encountered by a TDA in adulthood, as well as to analyze what these difficulties are and to seek improvements so that a person with the ADHD can live without major losses in the educational, family, affective and social life. This will be a bibliographic research where books and internet articles will be used for their reasoning. This work will be based on the theoretical Foundations of Silva (2008), more precisely in his book “Restless Minds” that discusses the theme of people with attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity. It will also be based on the inferences of Arruda (2006) and Barkley and Benton (2011) about this disorder in adults. The DSM-V will assist as a basis for the medical concepts described by the American Psychiatric Association.

In view of this, the functional consequences for adults with ADHD or ADHD are associated with poor school and academic performance, interpersonal conflict in affective relationships and unemployment. For this adult to enjoy mastery of his family and social functions it is necessary that the same understands about his symptoms, be diagnosed and treated by a specialist physician.


According to the Brazilian Association of attention deficit, the TDA is characterized as “a neurobiological disorder, of genetic causes, which appears in childhood and often accompanies the individual throughout his life. It is characterized by symptoms of unattention, restlessness and impulsiveness. It is sometimes called TDA “. The ADHD is also a chronic disorder that manifests itself and evolves throughout life and its manifestations are most often in children persisting to adulthood.

Arruda (2006, p. 9) says that the “TDA is a multifactorial disorder, because, there are several factors involved in its genesis, from genetics, hemorrhages, physical adversities during pregnancy, even aggressive events to the brain in childhood”, that is, one cannot To affirm that only one factor contributes to the development of the TDA.

The historical context of attention deficit disorder (ADHD) is directly related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In 1902 1 British pediatrician named George Fredrick Still, he produced a series of lectures in which he mentioned various behaviors of some children, who were aggressive, resistant to discipline, difficult to maintain attention and self-control. The physician described and characterized it as a major and chronic defect in the “moral control”. He also perceived the hereditary questions regarding the relatives who presented signs and symptoms of depression, changes in conduct or alcoholism. Later, some 20 years later, some American physicians studied children with characteristics similar to those reported by George Kill, but were children survivors of an inflammation called encephalitis and from then on were made several Studies related to “post-encephalitis behavior disorder”. (SILVA, 2008)

In 1968, in the DSM-III the term used in the American Psychiatric Association was “childhood hyperkinetic reaction”. Currently, according to the American Association of Psychiatry in the DSM-V (2014, P14) with specification in the code F90 brings the nomenclature of “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” and in the code F 90.0 indicates the subtype “presentation predominantly Unattentive. ”

In 1957 the expression “child hyperactivity” was used by Laufer and in 1960 by Stella Chess. Laufer believed that this syndrome was particularly male, already Chess, considered the symptoms as physiological hyperactivity, and the causes would be due to genetics and the environment, and from this arose the term “hyperactive child syndrome”. In the decade of 1970 the Center of Studies began to change hyperactivity to the points attentive thanks to the theory of Virginia Douglas that presented a reasoning that said the

Deficit in hold attention could manifest itself in circumstances where there was no hyperactivity, Douglas expanded the concept of this definition including giving more emphasis to attention deficit. Gabriel Weiss, in 1976, pointed out through studies that when entering adolescence, hyperactivity may decrease, but attention problems can continue. (SILVA, 2008)

The concept of Weiss made it understood that the syndrome was something that “would end” with the arrival of adolescence, that is, only children could have this syndrome. But in 1980 it was recognized in the adult form and the American Psychiatric Association (AAP) brought some changes, such as the renaming of the syndrome for Attention Deficit disorder (DDA).

In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association published the DSM-IV. In this update, Attention Deficit disorder was renamed to attention Deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and divided into three basic subtypes:

        • Predominantly unattentive type: When the symptoms of unattention are more striking;
        • A predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type: When the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are present in significant and equivalent proportions;
        • Combined type: When the symptoms of unattention and hyperactivity/impulsiveness are present in the same degree of intensity. (SILVA, 2008, p. 164)

In this way, one can report that there are the combined types and the isolated types. The symptoms of TDA and ADHD are strongly hereditary around 76%. For the American Psychiatric Association (2014, p. 106), the hereditary factor is substantial, and also states that “a minority of cases may be related to reactions to aspects of the diet. There may be a history of child abuse, neglect, multiple foster homes, exposure to neurotoxin (e.g., lead), infections (e.g., encephalitis) or exposure to alcohol in the uterus “. Thus, it is observed that the care of the mother during pregnancy is a direct influencing factor in the development or not of the disorder.


There are countless difficulties that a person with attention deficit disorder finds in adulthood, starting with family and affective aspects until reaching social aspects such as work, education and social life. For the Blokehead (2015), about 60% of children with ADHD in childhood remain with symptoms until adulthood.

With the growth of the child for adolescence and later for adulthood, it is more evident the unattention, because that child who was previously only “hyperactive or unattentive” Today is an adult who needs to play important roles in Family or social life. It is noteworthy that the predominance in adults regarding the characteristics of the ADHD is the unattention, however there are also cases with hyperactivity or the combined subtype.


Most of the time the unattention is subtle, in childhood it is not as visible as in adult form. In the school context it can be seen through the low income, the individual dispersed or forgotten.

Students with ADHD often fail to understand the functioning of the classroom, that is, determine what is important and focus their attention on this task. They are easily distracted by colleagues or noises outside the room. (ROTTA, OHLWEILER, RIESGO. 2006, p. 372)

The educational formation of a subject with attention deficit disorder is quite complex since it directly affects academic performance, potential and consequently limits the future choice of a job. A minority of people with this disorder also possess the learning disorder that is characterized by a delay in a specific learning area, such as reading or writing. The data show that 71% of adults diagnosed in infancy were suspended or expelled from school at least once. (BARKLEY; BENTON, 2011)

Fonseca (1995, p. 254) says: “Attention comprises an internal and external organization of stimuli, an organization that is indispensable to learning, otherwise the sensory messages are received, but not integrated.” Thus, the ability to concentrate on something is of great importance so that the individual with attention deficit can progress in the educational aspects. Fonseca (1995, p. 265) also evidences that the emotionally misfit person is more prone to obtaining bad school results, because emotional disturbances fragment the behavior and consequently the capacity of learning.


This difficulty is linked to the affective and family aspects of an adult with ADHD, because they are affected by difficulty concentrating or difficulty in attention. The complexity of keeping focused on this disorder in adulthood ends up becoming an obstacle to the subject within his personal life, which concerns affection.

For Barkley and Benton (2011, p. 198) They say that the way this disorder organizes things against the person can impact more on his personal and social life than in any other sector of life, however, with the self-control, stimulus and correct treatment the adult Can live without many losses in this area.

Two of the most common symptoms of the person with attention deficit disorder is being distracted in routine conversations and not seeming to listen when someone directs the word. For some people who relate to people with ADHD it may seem arrogance, disinterest or lack of education. Adults with attention deficit have no notion of their condition, but understand about the symptoms, which hinder the fulfillment of daily functions. (THE BLOKEHEAD, 2015)

Emotional control is substantial and indispensable for an adult with ADHD, since, when predominantly hyperactive/impulsive or combined subtype, the individual who possesses this disorder is more prone to talk too much, not to let people conclude the Phrase, to respond before they are asked, to interrupt or intrude on other people’s conversations, etc. Therefore, it is necessary that the subject has emotional control, know how to wait and have patience so that he can express himself correctly by doing so that there are no major problems.


Among adults, the major disturbances relate to the social cycle and the professional exercise. The difficulties to stay focused, organized and have long-term planning are notable. It is noticeable traces of emotional instability in adults with this disorder and also low esteem and little motivation to engage in activities.

For an adult TDA, staying focused on something, for a shorter time, can be a challenge as big as for a racing athlete with obstacles that needs to transposed increasingly larger barriers until he reaches the end of the track. This difficulty in keeping focused on a given subject, thought, action or speech often causes very uncomfortable situations for the adult TDA. (SILVA, 2008, p. 14)

Interference in social functioning can cause major damage. The adult with ADHD has to strive more than usual to achieve and maintain the necessary attention

To accomplish their common activities, in this way, Silva (2008, p. 15) states that “some use the expression ‘ fatigue in the soul ‘ to describe their state after performing tasks in which they were forced to remain concentrated by obligation.” In view of this, one can assume that keeping the concentration for a person with this disorder is too stressful.

Adults with attention deficit disorder may be deeply dissatisfied with unfinished activities, becoming depressed and with low self-esteem. These are those who fail to remain in employment, who have difficulty in prioritizing important activities of the craft or Procrastinam. (THE BLOKEHEAD, 2015)

For Barkley and Benton (2011, p. 178), “If your ADHD includes hyperactivity, it is unlikely that a job that requires you to remain seated in a chair in front of a computer all day is ideal for you.” For this reason it is necessary that the adult with ADHD with or without predominance in hyperactivity look for jobs where he can adapt more easily, a job where there is the maximum of facilitators and favorable elements for people with this disorder, avoiding Thus frustratations and embarrassing situations. Therefore, Silva (2008, p. 205) says it is of utmost importance that the TDA knows that it is TDA, because knowing its own behavior is fundamental to succeed in what is done.


The subject with TDA faces different difficulties throughout life, one of them is comorbidity. Comorbidity is the union of two or more diseases or disorders that are present simultaneously in a given individual. People with ADHD may or might not develop comorbidity. For Fiore (2007, p. 28): “They still accumulate a series of interferences in the educational, social and future development of the professional, because these symptoms are sumptories and are intrinsically interconnected.” That is, they can also develop psychosomatic diseases.

The American Psychiatric Association (2014, p. 109) Exposes:

Intermittent explosive disorder occurs in a minority of adults with ADHD, although with rates above population levels. Although substance abuse disorders are relatively more frequent among adults with ADHD in the general population, they are present in only a minority of them. In adults, antisocial personality disorder and other personality disorders can be comorbid with ADHD. Other disorders that may be comorbid with ADHD include obsessive-compulsive disorder, tick disorders and autistic spectrum disorder.

Consonant with Arruda (2006, p. 10): “Adults with ADHD when compared with adults without this disorder present more frequently: drug use and dependence, divorce, attempted suicide, professional dissatisfaction and social misfit”. And in agreement with the inferences of the Brazilian Association of attention deficit, it can be affirmed that “studies report that about 75% of adults with ADHD have more than one comorbidity, among the most common, depression, anxiety, binneating, Sleep disorders, drug addiction, alcoholism and dyslexia. ”

Such comorbidities influence the characteristics and diagnosis. The failure in everyday things like home chores, childcare, marriage and daily reminders can cause the comorbidities mentioned above. Consequently, the person who acquires comorbidities needs to undergo a differentiated medical treatment.


The first step to avoid harm in the life of an adult with attention deficit disorder is the previous diagnosis. Childhood diagnosis is synonymous with early treatment. Given this, in its life cycle the subject will undergo treatments and in adulthood can develop strategies to understand how to deal with his ADHD.

The activity with a person with the disorder in the educational sphere is related to creativity. Whether in school or academic life, the teacher should stimulate what the TDA has in abundance: creativity. Based on this, the teacher or psychopedagogue should exercise its role as mediator and develop new learning strategies, especially if this individual has the comorbidity of the TDA/H + learning disorder. Therefore, the idea that a TDA cannot learn is an erroneous idea, because there are brilliant minds with attention deficit, minds that have been stimulated by teachers, relatives and medical teams since their previous diagnosis.

In the family and affective life, the adult with attention deficit should be stimulated to develop their self-control and their organization, thus establishing rules and limits to interact with their relatives, spouses and children without any misfortune happening.

In social and/or work, the individual with this disorder should exercise his/her self-mastery so that he can perform his attributions perfectly in the job. It is also necessary that the desktop does not provide excessive noise or distractions.

It is believed that studies on attention deficit disorder and the difficulties that a person who has this disorder in adulthood can generate new opportunities for everyone to know this deficit and thus be able to contribute to a better insertion Of the TDA in society. To know how to deal with an adult who has this disorder it is necessary that the family or friend seek to know their symptoms, their characteristics and what are the methods to help improve the coexistence in the social environment. Therefore, it is important to emphasize that the adult must assume the TDA, because the more agile the diagnosis, the better the treatment and consequently the better the quality of the pathway.


ARRUDA, Marco. Levados da Breca: Um guia sobre crianças e adolescentes com o Transtorno do Déficit de Atenção e Hiperatividade (TDAH). 1 Ed. Instituto Glia, 2006.

ASSOCIAÇÃO BRASILEIRA DO DÉFICIT DE ATENÇÃO. Disponível em: Acesso em: 5 mar. 2018, 18:46

ASSOCIATION, American Psichiatric. Manual diagnóstico e estatístico de transtornos mentais: DSM-5. 5. Ed. Porto Alegre. Artmed: 2014.

BARKLEY, Russel A.; BENTON, Christine M.. Vencendo o TDAH Adulto: Transtorno de Déficit de Atenção/Hiperatividade.1 Ed. Artmed. 2011.

FIORE, Ana Cristina Leite Ferraz. O transtorno de déficit de atenção e hiperatividade em comorbidade com o fracasso escolar. Dissertação de Mestrado – Centro Universitário Salesiano de São Paulo. São Paulo, p. 28. 2007.

FONSECA, Vitor da. Introdução às Dificuldades de Aprendizagem. 2 ed. rev. Aum. Porto Alegre: Artes Médicas, 1995.

THE BLOKEHEAD. TDAH em adultos: Reconhecer e lidar com adultos que sofrem de TDAH em 30 passos simples. Babelcube Inc. 2015. Disponível em: Acesso em: 15 mar. 2018, 17:02.

ROTTA, Newra Tellechea; OHLWEILER, Lygia; RIESGO, Rudimar dos Santos. Transtorno da Aprendizagem, Abordagem Neurobiológica e Multidisciplinar. Porto Alegre. Artmed. 2006

SILVA, Ana Beatriz Barbosa. Mentes Inquietas: TDAH, Desatenção, Hiperatividade e Impulsividade. Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva. 2008.

[1] Graduated in full degree in pedagogy from Universidade Paulista, specialist in special education and inclusive by the Faculty of Theology and Humanities.

Sent: March, 2018.

Approved: July, 2019.

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