Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), previously referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), represents a broad spectrum of complaints regarding problems with focus, attention, concentration, and distractions that usually present in childhood. When hyperactivity and impulsivity are present, it’s called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Mixed or Combined Type.
Suspicions of ADHD commonly develop as the result of academic frustration and failure. Parents often regularly hear from their child’s teachers that their child has been an underachiever academically, working far below his or her potential. The degree of childhood mischief and behavioral problems in the classroom may lead to suspension or teacher intervention with the parents. The child without hyperactivity or impulsivity often falls through the academic cracks due to the fact that they are nice children who simply fail to succeed in school.
Facts about ADHD
It is now understood that ADHD is a medical disorder involving abnormalities in brain function that can be inherited across family generations. Persistence into adulthood is common, although the hyperactivity component usually subsides, leaving the attention/concentration problems little changed. When not diagnosed in childhood, adults often become suspicious of their own ADHD when it is diagnosed in their children, and they recognize the same set of symptoms in themselves.
The occurrence of ADHD among school-aged children has been estimated to be from five to eight percent, but the Centers for Disease Control have recently estimated it to be as much as 11 percent. At present, boys are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, but research is being done to into how ADHD presents in girls.
It’s estimated that approximately four percent of adults have the disorder. The official criteria for the diagnosis of ADHD in adults specifies that the symptoms must have been present by the age of 12, even if a diagnosis was not made in childhood.
In addition to hyperactivity and impulsivity, people with ADHD may also have:
- Chronic forgetfulness
- Relationship problems
- Mood swings
- Chronic boredom
- Difficulty controlling anger
- Addiction or substance abuse
How can we treat ADHD?
Untreated, ADHD can lead to drug abuse, job and academic failure, car accidents, or a general sense of lack of life accomplishment. On the other hand, treatment can be very effective. Appropriate ADHD medication use can turn around a negative life course and restore a healthy self-image. Non-pharmacologic treatment is also indicated and involves what is best described as ADHD coaching. This approach involves psychotherapy that focuses on time management and organizational development. These skills can last a lifetime and can contribute to eventual discontinuation of medication.
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