What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD?
There are very few people in the United States who have not heard about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sometimes it is called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It seems more and more people are diagnosed with this disorder. There are many reasons for this. We'll discuss those reasons in a moment. For now, let's begin by defining ADHD. What is it? Although we've heard the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), what exactly does it mean? Is it a normal variation of behavior: Or, is it disorder that significantly affects people's lives? A brief example may help clarify the term's meaning.
Adrian's story: A boy with ADHD
Adrian is a 7-year-old boy. He is making his second attempt to pass the first grade. He is halfway through the school year, but still hasn't improved very much. His teacher, Ms. Carter, taught Adrian in her classroom last ye...More
Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition associated with several characteristic symptoms including distractibility, poor impulse control, forgetfulness, inattention,
hyperactivity, and impulsivity that is beyond what is normal or average for a given age.
Usually, ADHD is first identified during childhood; but, it often persists into adulthood.
Although adult-ADHD is more common than once believed, not all children with ADHD will become adults with ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD change across the lifespan.
Although ADHD is referred to as a single disorder, there are different types.
A history of poor school performance - lower grades, criticism from teachers, as well as parents, and sometimes, the need to repeat a grade.
Career difficulties - problems with concentration and task completion that affect school performance continue to be problems in a job setting.
Adults with ADHD will likely benefit from predictable, consistent work routines, flexible deadlines, and projects that allow for creative involvement. One surprising research finding regarding this group is that they appear to be more likely to own their own small business.
As a result of various ongoing problems, adults with untreated ADHD tend to have a lower socioeconomic status, and money is often a serious concern. Frequent job changes and poor job performance may leave the finances of many ADHD adults in disarray.
Individuals with adult ADHD may appear as one of two extremes: withdrawn and antisocial, preferring to spend their time alone; or overly social and unable to easily endure even brief periods of solitude.
Relationships of all kinds are difficult for the adult with ADHD. Impulsive comments and behaviors in combination with a notoriously short temper can cause extreme problems.
Despite this large body of research, the specific cause of this disorder remains uncertain.
The vast majority of researchers conclude that ADHD is primarily a neurological or brain-based disorder. It is either present at birth, or it develops early on in childhood.
Research has established that genetics play a powerful role in many behavioral symptoms.
The estimated heritability of ADHD (i.e., the proportion of a trait that can be attributed to genetics) ranges from 75 to 91%.
Research has determined that ADHD is actually a result of reduced brain functioning (particularly frontal lobe) and decreased levels dopamine.
At present, there is no scientific evidence that demonstrates media exposure causes ADHD.
Research has clearly demonstrated that nutrition and eating habits do not cause ADHD. However, that said, there are some indications that children with this disorder are metabolically different from others.
Adults are diagnosed with ADHD using the same criteria as for children and ADHD. However, the symptoms look different in adults and children.
ADHD is a diagnosis that requires symptoms be present before age 12. This diagnostic requirement means there must be evidence that symptoms were present before age 12.
ADHD has symptoms shared by other disorders called, differential diagnosis; and, other disorders commonly occur in addition to ADHD called, co-occurring disorders. Teasing ADHD apart from these other disorders can be complex.
Teasing ADHD behaviors apart from normal variations in adult behavior often requires specialized
Cultural expectations, stereotypes, and life-long coping skills can conceal the disorder.
The goal is to arrive at the best mix of treatment 'ingredients' for each individual person.
Medication is the single most effective treatment for ADHD.
Psychoeducation provides patients and their families essential information about a mental health condition affecting them. Its goal is to empower them to cope with their condition in an optimal manner.
The family therapist helps the family to build and strengthen positive relationships.
The goal of individual therapy varies according to each child. One rather universal goal is for the child to recognize, and accept ADHD-related symptoms and behaviors.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a particular type of psychotherapy where therapists pay special attention to thoughts and behaviors that interfere with school, family, and social functioning.
Skills training focuses on techniques that change the surroundings of a child to improve behavior.
Social skills training classes are designed to improve peer relationships.
Coaching is aimed at helping people set and achieve realistic goals.
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