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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition of adults and children that involves inattentiveness, impulsivity and over-activity. The behaviour must be out of the norm of people who don't have ADHD.
Imaging studies show differences in the brain of those kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when compared to kids who do not have the condition. The neurotransmitters in the brain are different and are handled differently in ADHD kids. ADHD often runs in families but the exact cause of the disease is unknown.
ADHD can mimic things like lack of sleep, learning disabilities, depression, behaviour problems or tic disorders and can also coexist with these disorders. It is the most common diagnosis among behaviour disorders in childhood. It affects approximately 3-5 percent of school aged children. Boys get the disease more than girls.
Symptoms of ADHD include the following three aspects: hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness. Some have primarily one feature over another, such as inattentiveness but not impulsivity or hyperactivity. Symptoms of inactivity include failure to pay attention in school, difficulty sustaining attention in tasks, can't listen when you are spoken directly to, failure to follow through on instructions, cannot organize tasks and activities, avoids and dislikes tasks that require mental effort, loses things, is easily distracted and is forgetful in many activities of daily living.
Symptoms of hyperactivity include fidgetiness, leaving the seat in school without permission, climbing or running at inappropriate times, having difficulty playing in quiet situations and excessive talking or moving about. Symptoms of impulsivity include blurting out answers to questions, having an inability to wait your turn, and interrupting others or intruding on their activities.
Tests for ADHD can be difficult. It sometimes takes the help of the parents and the teacher, filling out forms that indicate the child's behaviour to see if they have ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that there are several criteria to consider. The child needs to have at least 6 symptoms of inattention or 6 symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity combined with an onset of at least age 7. The symptoms must be present for at least six months and be seen in more than one setting. The symptoms must be present to a degree that they interfere with normal functioning.
The treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder involves setting appropriate and specific goals for therapy and starting behavioural therapy and medication therapy. There should be follow up with a doctor every few months to make sure the treatment is still effective.
Medications for ADHD include those that stimulate the brain and paradoxically turn down the hyperactivity and impulsivity. They include Adderall (dextroamphetamine), Focalin, Dexedrine, Ritalin, Concerta, and non-stimulant drugs. Strattera is a newer medication used for ADHD.
Behavioural therapy is directed at the patient and the family. Families are stressed by having someone among them who has ADHD so family therapy is sometimes recommended. Parents need to use rewards and consequences in order to modify the behaviour of the child involved with the disease. There needs to be frequent communication between the teacher and the parent. A consistent daily schedule is helpful to keep behaviour controlled. The child's diet needs to be wholesome and healthy, avoiding any foods that make the behaviour worse. Limit the distractions in the child's life and make sure the child gets plenty of sleep. Good behaviour needs praising and a reward. Make sure the child has rules and knows what they are.
The outlook for ADHD includes the chance of developing drug or alcohol abuse, problems getting a job, failure in school and problems with the law. Half of all kids with ADHD will continue behavioural problems while an adult.
Seek medical attention if there are attention problems at home, school and in relationships with peers. Medication side effects are possible and you need to see the doctor if you experience any problems with a certain medication. If you feel depressed, you should also seek medical attention.
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