DENVER (CBS4) – It turns out attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) isn’t just an irritating childhood disorder. New research shows nearly a third of children continued to have ADHD as an adult.
The research was a nearly 20-year project following children into adulthood. It uncovered some disturbing facts about ADHD.
The disorder can increase a child’s risk of mental illness as an adult. The findings are not surprising to people living with ADHD, but the hope is they lead to change.
Leah Hornak is a vivacious and spirited young girl.
“Leah is one of the most outgoing and charming children you will ever meet,” her father Eric Hornak said.
And she’s a handful.
“She is so readily distracted she is very, very impulsive,” Hornak said.
Hornak says Leah has attention deficit disorder. She was diagnosed when she was five. Hornak was diagnosed when he was 60.
“I never recognized (ADHD) in my own experience,” he said.
Now both adult and child are working to manage it.
Maria Scazzero can relate. A binder is key to running her life with ADHD.
“I do what you call ‘mind dump,’ because your dumping everything out,” Scazzero said.
She assigns herself no more than three tasks a day.
“Otherwise I can’t function. I’m stressed out. I don’t know what I’m doing,” she said.
Scazzero was diagnosed with ADHD at age 12. At 27 she still struggles.
A new study in the journal “Pediatrics” finds she’s not alone. Nearly a third of people with ADHD as children still have it in adulthood, and 57 percent had at least one psychiatric disorder as adults, including substance abuse, anxiety and depression.
“It’s a blessing, more than a relief, it’s blessing,” Hornak said. “To really announce to the world that (ADHD) is real.”
Hornak started a local support group for those with ADHD.
“It is not a character flaw. There is a reason you have been dysfunctional in these ways,” he said.
Hornak is a coach.
“I’ve got techniques to help you reorganize yourself to understand your dynamic like you’ve never understood them before,” he said.
Scazzero has battled anxiety and depression. With medication and therapy she’s managed.
“Untreated, you’re lost,” she said.
The research indicates treatment needs to start early and remain for the long haul.
The study found adults with ADHD are also more likely to commit suicide. The lead author hopes that the revelations will inspire a shift in the way people perceive and treat ADHD.
Learn more about Hornak’s support group by visiting erichornak.com.