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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Overview

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is often referred to as childhood hyperactivity, is a severe and chronic disorder for children. It is one of the most prevalent childhood disorders, and affects 3% to 5% of the school-age population. Boys outnumber girls three or more to one. Children with ADHD can experience many behavioral difficulties that often manifest in the form of inattention, being easily distracted, being impulsive, and hyperactivity. As a result, children with ADHD may develop emotional, social, developmental, academic, and family problems because of the frustrations and problems they are constantly experiencing.

Families who have children with ADHD often experience much higher anxiety and stress levels. A large number of children, almost half, will exhibit signs of ADHD by the age of four. However, most children are not diagnosed until he or she reaches elementary school.

The behaviors that are associated with ADHD in children put them at risk for a host of other problems and complications such as completing their education, alcohol and other drug abuse, and an increased risk for delinquency. There has been much research on ADHD in recent years and many different types of medications and interventions have proven to be quite helpful. With the proper diagnosis and treatment, children with ADHD can learn to cope with the daily demands of the classroom, social situations, family interactions, and life in general.

Therefore, it is imperative that teachers, administrators, and school counselors become familiar with the characteristics of children with ADHD. It is also vital that they know how to properly assess for diagnosing ADHD, and that they learn the intervention strategies for children, along with their families. The child needs to have a “team” of caring individuals working with them to help them overcome and deal with the “hurdles” that living with ADHD can bring.

This paper will address four key areas of ADHD. They include: The causes of ADHD, the characteristics of ADHD, classroom intervention, and parental intervention. We will also discuss key medications that are being used to treat ADHD.

Causes of ADHD

When parents are told that their child has ADHD, it is only natural that their first response is to want to know what caused this disorder. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. For years researchers have been trying to find the underlying cause of ADHD, but have yet to come up with a definitive explanation.

Although there are several theories to try to explain the causes of ADHD, most experts agree that it is most likely not any single cause, but instead a combination of factors that causes ADHD. These factors may include brain damage, poor or inadequate prenatal nutrition and care, maternal alcohol or drug use during pregnancy, malnutrition, abusive home environments, genetic factors, high levels of stress, food additives or allergies, and physical, neurological, or psychiatric conditions (Schwiebert).

There are some indications that the maternal lifestyle during pregnancy, such as the use of drugs, smoking, and stress, may contribute to symptoms of ADHD in children. One study investigated to what extent the mother’s lifestyle might impact her child with regard to ADHD. The study found that prenatal nicotine exposure brought about structural changes and compromised the neuronal maturation. What is more important is that these initial changes profoundly influenced the development of cells that emerged later on during postnatal life. The nicotine had been found to cause dysfunction of the dopaminergic system, which has also been observed in children with ADHD. Therefore, the evidence to date points to plausible biological mechanisms that could account for the ADHD-prenatal nicotine exposure link (Rodriquez). It is also noteworthy to say that the study showed a greater number of associations between prenatal exposure and behavior for boys than for girls.

It is a known fact that a growing number of both children and adults consume junk foods high in toxins and depleted of nutrients. There are concerns that this drastic change in our diets may very well be contributing to the rising numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD. One study that looked at nutrition in the treatment of ADHD found that there is indeed a possible link between diet and ADHD. It showed that, although there is much controversy surrounding this issue, there is increasing evidence that there is a subset of children with behavioral problems who are sensitive to one or more food components that may contribute to their hyperactive behavior (Schnoll). Possible culprits may include: food colorings,

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