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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders among children. About 3 percent to 5 percent of American children are affected by this disorder. This disorder is commonly mis-diagnosed in children who are very hyperactive, assuming that very hyperactive kids have this disorder. In this paper I plan to discuss ideas such as: the symptoms, theories of causation, risks, and how this disorder is looked at and treated.
There are signs that a child may be affected by ADHD, which are very noticeable in some cases. Some of the physical symptoms that are involved include hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsitivity.
When discussing inattention, the idea that individuals have difficulty sustaining interest in finishing a task, strangely, a person with ADHD may have no problems with attention while doing an activity they enjoy, but won’t be able to finish a complicated or new task. People with this disorder are often noted for their inconsistencies, have bad handwriting, miss details, and are often forgetful. But because the individual over-focuses on something of great interest, or something that is highly stimulating, many times an untrained observer may assume that this ability to concentrate negates the possibility of ADHD being a concern, especially when they see children able to pay attention while working one-on-one with someone, doing something they enjoy, or can sit and play a video game or watch television for hours on end. In addition to problems with attention, people with ADHD can be fidgety, and appear to be moving around constantly. Which leads me to myth that all people with ADHD are hyperactive, this is not always the case.
Because society has traditionally thought of a person with ADHD as being ‘hyper’, many children who have this disorder with no signs of being hyperactive are not being identified or treated. For those individuals who are not hyperactive, they are often thought of as a ‘day-dreamers’ or an ‘absent-minded professors’. The non-hyperactive children with ADHD most often seem to be girls, but it is 5 to 7 more common in boys. (Booth, 2000)
Another symptom that is very common in people with ADHD is impulsitivity, which means that the individual seems to be unable to think before they act. They may interrupt others who are talking, blurt out inappropriate comments, or have a hard time waiting their turn. Regardless of the consequence, people with ADHD can out as if they are out of control.
Although researchers are still studying exactly what causes ADHD, they know what doesn’t cause it, and that is sugar. Sugar and food additives don’t cause ADHD, and in research study in 1982 the National Institutes of Health concluded that restricting sugar and food additive consumption only helped about 5% of the children with this disorder. Minor brain injuries from early infection, or birth complications also have been ruled out, head injuries can only explain a few cases of ADHD, not all of them. Television watching, poor home and school environments also don’t cause ADHD, they may contribute to behavior that resembles the symptoms. Instead new theories point to low levels of activity in some parts of the brain as an indicator of ADHD. In one study, investigators found that control attention, meaning that areas were less active and caused inattention. Cocaine and heavy alcohol use during pregnancy may also distort developing nerve cell. Using alcohol during pregnancy may cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which leads to low birth weight, and certain physical and intellectual impairments. Many FAS children also show the same symptoms as children with ADHD. I feel that you can rule out genes, because they probably account for some ADHD causes. Children with this disorder usually have at least one relative with ADHD, with one-third of fathers with ADHD having children with disorder also. More important, identical twins are often both affected.(National ADD, 97)
Treatment is available for people who have ADHD, which includes therapy and drug treatment. But in order to make sure these symptoms are from an actual case of ADHD, and not from an emotional or physical disorder, a medical professional would need to look at the history of the symptoms, ruling out any learning disabilities, or physical problems or environmental factors that may have caused problems. If the doctor is diagnosing a child, school report cards that contain comments about the child’s inattention and discipline problems are helpful factors that help point out ADHD.
Another important step in diagnosis is option to use treatment that involves stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin, which reduce hyperactivity and help individuals to pay better attention. Studies show that nine out of ten children usually improve. If the symptoms worsen, the doctor may adjust the dosage. Using therapeutic treatment, combined with drug therapy has proved to be a successful tool in handling ADHD.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is something the never goes away, it follows you into adulthood. Individuals with ADHD may want to join a support group to share in their frustration and successes when they are older. This is a disorder that is treatable, and for those who are not treated, serous socially problems are a problem
I have learned a great deal about the ADHD disorder.
I feel that anyone who has children, or works with kids should be aware of ADHD, because it affects a lot of children. A big concern is really recognizing the symptoms, and getting treatment for these kids so they can have a chance at living a successful life, just like everyone else.
The National ADD Oraganization(1997)
Booth, Rebecca. “What Does ADD Look Like.” (2000)
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