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HomeHealth A-Z ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Watch your child around his or her friends. It's sometimes hard for children who have ADHD to learn social skills. Reward good play behaviors.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Definition of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by difficulties concentrating, poor impulse control, and hyperactivity that are inappropriate for a person's age. A form of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), in which hyperactivity is present.

Description of ADHD

You have probably heard of ADHD and ADD before and you likely think it means the child simply can't pay attention or behave very well. Many individuals believe that ADHD is just an out of control kid with parents who don't discipline him well. However, this is not necessarily the case. Read on to learn more about ADHD, its cause, treatment, and prevention.

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is marked by chronic misbehavior and is a psychiatric disorder. Individuals affected by ADHD display hyperactivity, inattention, and are chronically impulsive. The difficulty in concentration and paying attention makes sufferers avoid or dislike activities that require concentration because they frequently miss necessary information.

Many children in the United State are affected by ADHD and estimates are up to 5% of kids between nine and 17 years of age. Many times boys are affected by ADHD more than girls, but other studies believe that this may not be the case and girls may simply have different symptoms.

Causes and Risk Factors of ADHD

Members of families who have a history of ADHD are at higher risk than others because it is believed ADHD is inherited. Other risk factors include learning disabilities, brain chemicals, mental health condition, Tourette's syndrome, and brain structure.

Other risk factors of ADHD include individuals with small basal ganglia. This controls normal behavior and many times individuals with ADHD have a smaller than normal basal ganglia. Reduced frontal lobe activity may also play a role in individuals with ADHD. The frontal lobe controls attention, planning, impulse control, and more.

Some medical conditions are linked to ADHD as well. These include children with autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder, brain trauma from pregnancy or delivery, alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy, lead poisoning, and more.

Another interesting fact is that of all the children in the United States with learning disabilities approximately 20-30% of them also have ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD

The most common symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, inability to pay attention, and impulsiveness. These symptoms result in problems at work, at school, and in social interactions as well.
Children with ADHD who also suffer neglect, abuse, or a divorce, have low self esteem that makes the ADHD even worse. Fortunately, individuals with ADHD tend to see the symptoms reducing in severity as they age. For example, children with ADHD are typically hyperactive, but as they age this tends to diminish significantly.

Symptoms that children with ADHD typically experience include disorganization, forgetfulness, losing things, easily distracted, careless mistakes, difficulty paying attention, avoiding tasks that require attention or critical thinking, and more. Girls with ADHD frequently daydream.

Adults with ADHD are forgetful, disorganized, cannot get along with co-workers, have difficulty completing jobs, and are frequently losing things.

Hyperactivity is also a sign of ADHD that is marked by restlessness, inability to stay seated, fidgeting, talkativeness, loud, also active even in situations that should be quiet. The more distracting the situation, like a party or family gathering, the more energetic and distracted the child becomes.

Diagnosis of ADHD

Diagnosis frequently occurs in childhood or during the teen years, although individuals of all ages may have ADHD. A particular lab test is not available for ADHD and doctors frequently perform a complete medical exam to determine the problem and any health issues that may accompany ADHD. The most important part of diagnosing ADHD is a clinical interview.

The interview is based on a specific diagnostic criteria set forth by the American Psychiatric Association. Children who have six or more of the symptoms, that have caused impairment for at least six months, and some of which showed up before age seven, will more than likely be diagnosed with ADHD. The clinical interview also includes discussing family history, level of development, evaluating symptoms, and rating the child's symptoms.

A CPT and IQ test may be administered as well to determine the child's ability to focus and his attention span. But, these tests are in conjunction with other testing and cannot diagnose ADHD alone.

Treatment of ADHD

Treatment of ADHD is a combination of education, medication, behavioral therapy, social skills training, psychotherapy, as well as other therapies.

Education is important because it teaches about the illness, causes, treatment, and the best chance for living a somewhat normal life. Medication is another important aspect of treating ADHD. It is very important that parents take control of the medication and ensure their children are taking the medicine on a regular basis and the right dosage. Also, parents should pay close attention to the side effects of the medication and any improvement in the child's behavior. Medication is the best and most common treatment method for ADHD sufferers. Medications prescribed include stimulants, non stimulants, antidepressants, antihypertensives, mood stabilizers, and neuroleptic drugs.

Behavioral therapy is another treatment method that works well. It helps children increase function especially when parents are involved. Social skill training also helps and teaches children how they should interact with adults and children by practicing in an environment where the kids can learn from one another.

Another method of treatment is psychotherapy that is generally used with adults. This treatment option helps adults see how their lives have been impacted by ADHD. Other therapies include homeopathy, biofeedback, herbs, sugar free diet, gluten free diet, relaxation training, megavitamins, and more. These methods have not been proven to work on all occasions, but there are some instances where one or more are helpful.

Prevention of ADHD

Unfortunately, there is no prevention method for ADHD. Mothers may try avoiding alcohol, smoking, and drugs while they are pregnant as well as receiving good medical care. Parents can also help to raise children with good behavior by setting limits and enforcing them. Reading to preschool aged children and enhancing their attention skills with books and puzzles is also recommended. Nurturing children is important to help your child reach his potential, no matter whether he suffers from ADHD or not.

External Resources

Children and Adults with ADHD

Born to Explore

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