ADHD is a neurobehavioral or mental disorder which is characterized by difficulties in paying attention, hyperactivity (over activity) and difficulty controlling behavior. It is a common childhood disorder usually diagnosed before the age of seven. However, some children do not show the main symptoms of ADHD until they become adolescents.
Types of ADHD
Based on its symptoms, ADHD can be classified into three types as follows:
Predominantly Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD: A person suffering from this type of ADHD will exhibit six or more symptoms of hyperactivity. The symptoms of inattention are usually fewer than six. Inattention may be present but only to a small extent.
Predominantly inactive ADHD: The most common symptoms evident in people having this disorder, six or more, are in the category of inattention while less than six symptoms can be in the hyperactivity category. In a classroom situation, children with this disorder may be overlooked because although they sit quietly, they pay little attention to learning tasks.
Combined inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD: People diagnosed with this disorder would have six or more inattention symptoms and six or more hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms.
Prevalence of ADHD
In the US, about five percent of teens, which accounts for about two million, suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD), or ADHD. Nearly 50 percent of ADD or ADHD in teenagers may not be diagnosed, especially among those hailing from families without health insurance. Although it remains in childhood, between 30 and 60 percent of ADHD patients grow into adulthood with this condition. Amongst children using drugs to manage ADHD, 80 percent will need them at teenage age while 50 percent will need them in adulthood. It is suggested that ADD or ADHD has a genetic component. This is supported by the fact that 30 to 40 percent of children suffering from ADD or ADHD have a close relative who also suffer ADD or ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD
People with Predominantly inactive ADHD may have a short memory, miss details, be easily distracted, and keep switching between tasks. They have difficulties in learning new tasks and focusing their attention on one thing. They get bored with an activity soon after starting it, unless it is enjoyable. Their ability to follow instructions, process information quickly and accurately is low compared to other children.
Predominantly hyperactive people seem to be always in motion. They talk nonstop and have difficulty doing tasks quietly. Hyperactive children may squirm and fidget on their seats. On the other hand, children who are impulsive are remarkably impatient. When playing with other children, they find difficulties waiting for their turns. They comment inappropriately, show their emotions explicitly and act without fear of any consequences.
Like children, adults with ADHD may seem restless; they may attempt many tasks at once, but most of them will be unsuccessful. They frequently experience problems relating with other people, achieving their academic, or career goals.
Potential Causes of ADHD
Although the cause of ADHD is not definite, scientists belief that genes, environmental factors, brain injuries, sugar and food additives cause ADHD, with genes being the major suspected cause. Results from studies done internationally have shown that ADHD is inherited. The NIHM study showed that ADHD affected children had a thinner brain tissue in the sections associated with attention. However, this is not permanent. As the children grew up the tissue developed to the required thickness. In addition, traumatic brain injury has been noted to be responsible for ADHD cases in children, only to a smaller extent.
Although it is thought that refined sugar can cause ADHD, research has discounted this theory more than it has supported it. On the other had, research is on going to establish whether the contribution of certain food colors and preservatives to ADHD causes is significant.
Misconceptions Concerning ADHD
Some think that ADHD affected people are academically challenged. So, they should be placed in special classes. The fact is that ADHD does not affect intellectual ability. Some also belief that parents can eliminate bad and disruptive behaviours of ADHD in children by disciplining them. Research shows that discipline and parenting styles are not among causes of ADHD. Despite ADHD affecting about 5 percent of the US population, some people still belief that doctors use its diagnosis to describe difficult children.
Treatment of ADHD
A comprehensive treatment plan for ADHD includes educational, medical, social and psychological measures, which is effective for adults. This plan should involve support and advice to teachers and parents, and may include psychological treatments like neuropsychological rehabilitation and behavioural therapy. Pediatricians recommend behavior therapy and stimulant medication to treat the symptoms of ADHD. When used as part of this plan, medication can significantly reduce symptoms of ADHD and improve children’s ability to work, focus their attention and learn.
ADHD Symptoms for a Real Kid
We consider a real case for Ryan; a bright fourth grade boy aged 9.It is difficult for Ryan to stain his seat. He could always be seen playing with his stationery. He gets bored in school and finds it hard to concentrate on learning tasks. Ryan is careless with his assignments, which he does in a rush. His teachers and his mother encourage him to double-check his work, but he hates it. If it were his wish, he would work with ease just like other kids. Ryan has also been very interruptive to his classmates and his teachers. He rarely waits for his turn or permission to talk. He could always find excuses for engaging in fights blaming it on others. He can participate in a game but only to end up in arguments between him and other participants. These behaviors show that Ryan is suffering from hyperactivity-impulsivity subtype of ADHD.
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