Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder Generally Speaking, ADHD Term Paper

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¶ … Attention Deficit/

Hyperactivity Disorder

Generally speaking, ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, "is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood, estimated to affect 3 to 5% of school-age children." The main symptoms include "developmentally inappropriate levels of attention, concentration, activity, distractibility, and impulsivity," and for children affected by ADHD, they "usually have functional impairment across multiple settings including home, school, and peer relationships" ("Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD," Internet). However, ADHD may be one of the most misunderstood and over-diagnosed disorders known today, due to a number of claims by medical professionals that ADHD is not real nor legitimate.

Some of these claims suggest that there is no evidence that ADHD is associated with or is the result of a legitimate disease or brain abnormality. In addition, due to the fact that the rate of diagnosis for ADHD and the prescription of stimulants to treat it have risen substantially within the last ten years or so, ADHD is now greatly over-diagnosed. However, as pointed out by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), ADHD is under-diagnosed and under-treated which has created many problems, not only in the United States but also in foreign nations (Trueit 45).

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One logical reason for the rise in diagnosis and stimulant treatment of ADHD has much to do with the prevalence of the disorder which has, in effect, risen since ADHD was first diagnosed some twenty years ago. According to the most recent research, it appears that the rise in ADHD has not primarily occurred within the last two generations which indicates that the disorder is simply more recognized by the general public and thus the increase in children diagnosed with ADHD is related to being referred to a doctor or neurological specialist.

Term Paper on Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder Generally Speaking, ADHD, Assignment

Unlike a good number of other disorders, the underlying causes of ADHD vary greatly. First of all, there appears to be a genetic link with ADHD, due to studies which have shown that the biological relatives of children with ADHD have more kinds of psychological problems, such as depression and anti-social behavior as compared to the biological relatives of children that do not exhibit any symptoms of ADHD. Of course, twin studies have revealed that ADHD may be inherited, for researchers have discovered that if one twin has ADHD symptoms, the risk that the other twin has the disorder goes as high as ninety percent. However, the biological inks are still not very clear, but it has been demonstrated that "many children with ADHD have a close relative who also has the disorder" ("What is ADHD?" Internet).

Some researchers have claimed that ADHD is related to poor parental management of their children, meaning that these parents are too permissive and have not provided the training and discipline necessary for a normal life in society. Yet this view is not supported by any evidence. In reality, parents of children with ADHD are likely to be less permissive and have strict disciplinarian traits. Also, claims that children with ADHD have the disorder as a result of living in a dysfunctional family environment are also not supported by any solid clinical evidence.

In regard to the role of the environment, some studies have suggested that ADHD may be the result of mothers who while pregnant consume alcohol and smoke cigarettes. Certain studies with animals have shown rather conclusively that nicotine and alcohol cause abnormal development in particular regions of the brain and that these abnormalities result in increased hyperactivity and inattentive behavior. Thus, if a mother consumes alcohol or smokes during pregnancy, the risks do increase that the unborn child will develop some form of ADHD. Also, it has been demonstrated that exposure to high levels of lead, such as that found in old lead-based paint, may be linked to a higher risk for hyperactivity and inattentive behavior. Therefore, high levels of lead in the body may well contribute to some cases of ADHD, due to the fact that lead in high levels injures brain tissue.

Over the years, a number of experiments with animals have shown that ADHD may arise from certain types of brain injuries, especially when the frontal lobes of the brain are involved. With the animals, they became more hyperactive and less able to pay attention for extended periods of time and were more impulsive. They also were less able to inhibit their behaviors and often developed significant problems regarding their social interactions with other animals. Yet other injured brain regions do not appear to produce the same results of ADHD-like behavior. Thus, it is safe to say that injury to the frontal lobe of the brain can lead to the symptoms of ADHD. Yet Sanjiv Kumra declares that ADHD is often described "as a chemical imbalance, but our research has shown that there may also be subtle anatomical differences in areas of the brain that are important in this disorder" (Baughman, Internet).

As to dietary causes, a popular misconception is that consuming sugar causes ADHD. However, not one single scientific study has ever proved that sugar causes or even aggravates ADHD. In addition, some have argued that certain allergies to particular types of food can cause ADHD symptoms, yet once again, there is no scientific proof for this suggestion. In contrast, there is no evidence that large quantities of vitamins or minerals can help children with ADHD or that a vitamin deficiency causes the disorder; in fact, some studies have shown the exact opposite, being that high doses of vitamins and minerals actually increase ADHD symptoms.

The symptoms associated with ADHD include a significant difficulty with sustained attention, a tendency to be distracted easily, difficulty with controlling various impulses, a greater tendency to take risks, impulsive thinking and excessive movement or hyperactivity, but most importantly, those with ADHD exhibit the inability to inhibit their behaviors, meaning that they cannot focus on a certain task or situation for a prolonged period of time.

Diagnostically, in order to make the claim that a child is afflicted with ADHD, it must be determined that it arose early in child development, that it clearly distinguishes the child from normal children or those not afflicted with the disorder, that it is relatively pervasive or occurs within many different situations, that it affects the child's ability to function successfully within the family unit or in society, that it is relatively persistent over time, that it is not accounted for via environmental or social causes, that it is related to abnormalities in brain functioning, and lastly, that it is linked to other biological factors that affect brain functioning (Selikowitz 156). As to trust, a competent and highly-experienced psychotherapist or child psychologist can make the best diagnosis as compared to a medical doctor who might not have the experience nor the proper information to properly diagnose a child with ADHD.

The treatments for ADHD varies according to how much the child is affected by the disorder. Many treatment programs for children with ADHD use methods that teach children to talk to themselves out loud and give themselves instructions on what they should be doing and thus reward themselves verbally for their accomplishments. These methods are usually referred to as cognitive behavior modification, self-instruction or self-control programs. One specific program involves a set of self-directed instructions to follow when doing specific tasks, such as at home or in school. The most important aspect of this is for the child to say out loud to themselves what the task or problem is they have been assigned to accomplish; however, many studies have shown that these methods often fail.

Of course, medications are the most widely used treatment method. Currently, Ritalin is the first choice because it has been proven effective with children over a wide age range. If the child fails to respond to Ritalin, other stimulants,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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