FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

If you are visiting this page you most likely have many questions.  This area of the site is designed to answer some of the most commonly asked questions and link you to further information.

Question related to specific groups can be accessed by category, more general questions are listed below.


Our site is expanding daily so if you have a question that does not appear here, you can send us an information request.

Is ADHD a learning disorder?

Some have suggested ADHD be reconceptualized, as it is more than difficult to manage behaviour.  ADHD also includes impairment in one or more processes related to perceiving, thinking, remembering, or learning.  Therefore, it may be more useful to view ADHD as a learning disorder, though one that differs from currently recognized reading or non-verbal learning disorders (LD).

Is everybody with ADHD hyperactive?

No, there is more than one subtype of ADHD. Those diagnosed with ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Subtype have no symptoms of hyperactivity.

Where does ADHD come from?

Research shows that ADHD tends to run in families so there are likely to be genetic influences.  Children who have ADHD usually have at least one close relative who has ADHD.  At least a third of all fathers who had ADHD in their youth have children with ADHD.  Even more convincing of a possible genetic link is that when one twin of an identical twin pair has the disorder, the other is likely to have it too.

What is involved in the diagnosis of ADHD?

The diagnosis of ADHD is a clinical diagnosis, which can be reliably made using well-tested diagnostic interview methods. There are two major classification systems used throughout the world both of which are based on history, the description of appropriate symptoms, observable behaviours in at least two separate settings (ie school, work and home) and the exclusion of other conditions that may mimic ADHD. The diagnosis should include input from parents, teachers and others who may be interacting with the child or adult. The diagnosis should also consider other conditions, which may accompany ADHD in 70% of cases such as depression, anxiety, learning difficulties, developmental status, oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. There is no “test” for ADHD. This is not unique to ADHD and applies to most psychiatric disorders including other disabling conditions such as schizophrenia, depression and autism.

Is ADHD caused by too much sugar or food colouring?

The current weight of evidence indicates that ADHD is not caused by too much sugar or food colourings in the diet. There are no well established nutritional interventions that have been consistently demonstrated to be effective for assisting the great majority of children with ADHD, especially in the long term.  A small body of research has suggested that some children may benefit from these interventions, but delaying the implementation of well established effective interventions while engaged in the search for unknown, general unproven allergens, is likely to be harmful for many children.

The above statements should not be confused with the diagnosis of food allergy or food chemical intolerance. There is no doubt that some foods do affect children’s behaviour but this is not ADHD. If there is a suspicion that the child or an adult has food chemical intolerance or food allergy, consultation with an Immunologist and/or Accredited Practising Dietician with skills in this area of assessment and supervision of diet trials may be useful ( see the Australian Association of Dieticians at www.daa.asn.au and look for the “Find a dietician” link). ADHD and food chemical intolerance may co-exist as two separate conditions just as ADHD and Asthma may co-exist, but the ADHD symptoms may be worsened by the other condition just as the other condition may affect the ADHD.


Log In Join Donate Volunteer Find an Event