Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Disorder (AD/HD) is a condition that can make it hard for a person to
sit still, control behavior, and pay attention. These difficulties
usually begin before the person is 7 years old. However, these behaviors
may not be noticed until the child is older.
Doctors do not know just what causes
AD/HD. However, researchers who study the brain are coming closer to
understanding what may cause AD/HD. They believe that some people with
AD/HD do not have enough of certain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) in their brain. These chemicals help the brain
disorder (ADHD) is a group of chronic disorders that begin in childhood
and sometimes last into adult life. In general, children and adults with
ADHD have a hard time paying attention and concentrating (inattention),
sitting still (hyperactivity) and controlling impulsive behavior
(impulsivity). These problems can affect nearly every aspect of life.
Children and adults with ADHD often struggle with low self-esteem,
troubled personal relationships and poor performance in school or at
At various times, ADHD has been called
attention-deficit disorder (ADD), hyperactivity, and even minimal brain
dysfunction. But today ADHD is the preferred term because it
more accurately describes all aspects of the condition. Yet changing the
name hasn't made ADHD less controversial.
For some time, experts disagreed on how
ADHD should be diagnosed - and even on whether it was a real disorder.
But in 1998, the National Institute of Mental Health agreed that ADHD is
a legitimate condition. In addition, most doctors believe that a child
shouldn't receive a diagnosis of ADHD unless the core symptoms of
hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention have created significant
problems at home and at school for at least 6 months. Even so, it often
can be hard to distinguish the behavior of a child with ADHD from that
of normal, active children. And children who are either slow learners or
bright, quick learners and children with adjustment problems share many
symptoms with ADHD children.
Just what constitutes the best
treatment for ADHD is also a matter of debate. Currently,
psychostimulant drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) or
dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) are the most common treatment. But the use
of these drugs is under scrutiny. Psychostimulant medications can
relieve many symptoms of ADHD, but they don't cure the disorder. It's
also clear that counseling, special accommodations in the classroom, and
family and community support are just as, if not more, important in
solving the problems affecting a child's life.
Experts agree that without any
treatment some children with ADHD will likely continue to have poor
learning skills and low self-esteem. They may also have social
difficulties that last into adulthood. The good news is that when
children receive appropriate treatment for ADHD, their confidence,
social skills and even academic performance may improve dramatically.
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