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CONDITIONS A-Z

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder that becomes obvious during childhood. It is much more common in boys than girls.

ADHD Overview

ADHD is known to affect about 3 to 5% of the world's population, including approximately 2 million children in the United States and more than 1.7% of the UK population.

ADHD Symptoms

ADHD usually becomes apparent during childhood in the preschool and early school years affecting the individual’s attention, concentration and impulsivity. It is characterized by a typical pattern of inattention at times along with hyperactivity, forgetfulness, poor impulse control and distractibility. While some children outgrow ADHD, it often continues into adulthood with about 60% of children retaining the condition as adults.

ADHD Causes

ADHD is highly heritable, with causes that are largely genetic. Trauma and toxic exposure may account for one-fifth of the causative factors. Current research has also put forth evidence that ADHD may arise from some common food colourings and preservatives. A British researchers’ report in September 2007 had caused the British government's Food Standards Agency (FSA) to issue a warning to parents about food additives in 2008. More on ADHD causes

ADHD and Treatment

Presently this persistent and chronic condition has no medical cure, but medication and therapy can treat symptoms. The treatment methods usually involve either medications or behaviour therapy or a combination of the two. Parents need to be patient and supportive and not feel guilty, as ADHD is not caused by bad parenting.

Medication is often used with children who have ADHD and, in most cases, is highly successful. Medications include:

  • Non-stimulant: Atomoxetine HCl is a non-stimulant treatment option for ADHD. Strattera was the first non-stimulant medication approved by the FDA to treat ADHD in children, adolescents, and adults.

  • Stimulants: The use of stimulants is very common in ADHD. Stimulants regulate the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.

Behaviour modification involves strategies to produce consistency, positive reinforcement and problem solving ability in your child. There are three areas of behaviour modification, also known as the "ABCs" of behaviour modification, antecedents, behaviours and consequences.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) involves talking to a qualified therapist who identifies problem behaviours and helps you develop more positive ways of dealing with tricky issues, feelings or situations faced by your child.

More on ADHD treatment.

A Controversial Condition

Despite being a well-validated clinical condition, ADHD sadly remains a controversial disorder. The United Kingdom's "Every Child Matters" website states that ADHD is a "controversial diagnosis" with several ethical and legal issues pertaining to its treatment. Experts believe that the condition is either poorly diagnosed or over-diagnosed, as it lacks a known cause or a proper standardized assessment criterion. Many schools of thought blame modern technology and media for making ADHD controversial. Further, there is no proper guideline for medications in ADHD.

Understanding Your Child with ADHD

Your child with ADHD needs to work much harder than other children at paying attention, being organised, thinking slowly and sitting still. ADHD does not mean that your child has an illness or is not intelligent.

ADHD often means that your child may feel frustrated and worried about their abilities and what other children will think of them. Many children with ADHD do not understand why they behave the way they do, and sometimes feel out of control or lonely. The condition is not your child's fault. The exact cause is still unknown.

The signs and symptoms of ADHD are usually noticed early in life. They are observed by parents, and sometimes teachers, over a long period of time. Of course, all young children have a limited attention span and sometimes do things without thinking. Only a few of these children will truly have ADHD.



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