Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a disorder in which children have difficultly paying attention and/or are overly hyperactive and/or impulsive.
AD/HD has three subtypes:
1: A predominantly inattentive subtype, formerly called ADD. Symptoms include:
Difficulty paying attention to details and making careless mistakes
Rarely following instructions carefully and completely
Losing or forgetting things like pencils, books, and other things needed to complete a task
2. A predominantly hyperactive-impulsive subtype. Symptoms include:
Fidgeting and squirming
Running, climbing, or leaving a seat in settings where sitting or quiet behavior is expected
Difficulty waiting in line or waiting for a turn
3. A combined subtype, which is the most common of these
To be diagnosed with AD/HD, these symptoms must appear before the age of seven and must last for at least six months. They must occur more frequently and more severely than among other children in the same age group. They must create a real handicap in at least two areas of the child’s life, such as home, school, or a social setting.
No one knows for sure what causes Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It is believed by many to be caused by biological factors that influence neurotransmitter activity in certain parts of the brain. It is not caused by poor parenting, by family problems, by poor teachers or schools, by food allergies, or by excessive sugar in the diet.
There is also believed to be a genetic component to AD/HD. About four to six percent of all people in the U.S. have AD/HD, but if one person in the family is diagnosed with AD/HD there is a 25 to 35 percent chance that another person in the family also has the condition.
AD/HD is more common in boys than in girls. Children with AD/ HD often have learning disabilities, but this is not always the case. They are usually of average or even above average intelligence.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is best treated with a combination of medication and counseling. Psychostimulant medication like Ritalin and some antidepressants that affect the levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin in the brain have been shown to be effective treatments. Counseling aimed at teaching coping skills is also helpful. In addition, family therapy may be useful to teach the family how to cope with the condition at home, and special education services may be needed in the school to help the child cope in the educational setting.