Is ADHD Attention Deficit?

Leo has decided to study to finish his industrial design career. 

He started the degree about 6 years ago, and 2 years ago he left it with only 4 subjects to take, which meant a semester. He knows that he has a facility for design, technology and is also quite creative. His main problem seemed to be your ability to concentrate when starting to study or do some practical work. 

It is very common to heat among health agents and educators the idea that  ADHD is simply "deficit attention" and therefore people are "medicated" because they have trouble paying attention. This mistaken belief makes some sense: the most obvious observable problem seems to be the difficulty to concentrate. 

"Maybe if Leao tries harder and sits in the chair, he will be able to concentrate." 

Sadly, it is not as simple as that. 

Cognitive functions are highly complex and to perform, an action like studying requires several mental operations that work in a coordinated and sequential manner. 

Leo suffers from a more complex set of problems than "just" attention deficit.

Definition of attention

La atención podría definirse como un conjunto de funciones cognitivas que operan como filtro o selección de un pequeño grupo de estímulos, dejando otros sin atender. La atención selecciona los estímulos «relevantes» versus  los «irrelevantes». 

Some authors propose that in order to "attend" 3 components are needed:

  1. Being alert: that is being connected with the environment. 
  2. La Orientation: where the senses are directed to capture the information. 
  3. El Attentional control: is the purpose or intent regarding that care. 

In ADHD the failure is in level 3, and that ends affecting the other levels. 

Read the article on "ADHD in adults: causes, characteristics and diagnosis" 

What Is ADHD really?

ADHD is a failure of self-regulation of behavior. en general. 

The essential problem would be the inhibition deficit y por lo tanto, la disatención, o déficit de regulación de la atención, es una falla entre tantas.  Esto quiere decir que, para concentrarnos en una tarea se requiere, previamente, frenar para evaluar cuál es nuestra meta y entonces regular a qué, cuándo, dónde, para qué, cuánto y cómo, vamos a prestar atención.  

How does it apply to Leo?

Leo suffers from lack of self regulation and exploring with him, we find that he can´t generate availability of time to perform his tasks. 

He has a baby daughter, a job that takes more than 8 hours away from home, and various social activities. In fact, the times he's gotten started, he was able to spend at least 45 minutes at a time focused on the task. His problem is activation, it cannot achieve the state of mind to allow the attention system to work effectively. 

Leo has a time perception deficit, he is unable to realistically estimate the time he needs in the correct place, to memorise content or doing essays. 

He can pay attention, in fact, he would be paying attention throughout the day. The problem is pay attention to those relevant stimuli that would allow him to advance with the tasks that had to be done. Leo wastes his attentional resources, and this happens because he does not have the ability to regulate his attention. In other words, level 3, attentional control, fails. 

At the end of the day, he feels tired, and thinks about paying attention to a boring text. Lacking energy, when you try, you cannot pay attention, as tiredness prevents you from having the minimum level of alertness you need for the task.  

Some solutions

What can Leao do to improve attention control?

  1. Accurate diagnosis: as we saw, it is complex to determine which of all levels are affected. That is why it is highly recommended to do an evaluation with an expert. 

If you want to evaluate your ADHD - Check here

  1. Use an agenda: the visibility of the agenda will allow you to more accurately assess the time you have, to be able to decide when and where you can activate concentration to study. 

  1. Plan: detect as many steps as possible before sitting down to do practical work, so that your attention is only devoted to executing the main task. 

  1. Do a psychiatric assessment: there are many mental health problems that can affect attention control, so it is essential to have an expert evaluation. 


El ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is not equivalent to "Attention Deficit", it is something more complex: es déficit de inhibición y  autorregulación

The attentional system is complex and multilevel: paying attention is the result of many other processes and is not an independent brain function. 

Focus on a task requires alertness, guidance (motivation), and control. Sometimes the problem is during the task, but many times in the before, that is, the planning that you do. 

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