1. What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Someone who has ADHD might have difficulty attending to a particular stimulus. For example, in a noisy room this person’s brain might have difficulty editing out the background noise in order to focus on the person to whom they are talking. ADHD can be difficult to diagnose- something like a child’s inability to stay in a seat, or his or her acts of disobedience- could be due to ADHD or to the fact that the child is young and does not know how to act. Thus, the role of the professional is to determine whether the person’s attention and behavior is noticeably different from other people of the same age.
The causes of ADHD are unclear but scientists think that genetics play a role in the development of ADHD. Other factors such as nutrition, social environment, and brain injuries can also influence its development. Therefore, not all behavioral and attention problems are caused by emotional or disciplinary problems. It is important to recognize that different children have different needs and that the cause of ADHD is not necessarily the fault of the caregivers.
3. Signs and Symptoms
Major symptoms of ADHD include difficulty staying focused or paying attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Some children with hyperactive-impulsive tendencies will have difficulties controlling their behaviors, while being able to focus attention on a particular thing, especially something that is of interest. Other children will struggle with remaining attentive to activities. Most commonly, children have difficulties both with paying attention and with hyperactivity and impulsivity.
4. Who is at Risk
ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in childhood, but can also continue in adolescence and remain into adulthood. Interestingly, boys have a four-time greater risk of ADHD than girls. While the average onset age is around 7 years, symptoms may be present as early as 3 years.
Before giving a diagnoses of ADHD, it is important to make sure that the symptoms are not the cause of some other medical (e.g. hearing or vision problems) or psychological (e.g. trauma or learning disabilities) condition. Diagnostic processes include a number of tests conducted to understand the symptoms in light of person’s history, neuropsychological level of functioning, and personality profile.
Though medication is the most common treatment for ADHD, it is beneficial for children and adults to undergo behavioral psychotherapy in order to learn techniques for coping with ADHD symptoms. Parents, caregivers, and relatives of children and adults with ADHD who experience “negative feelings” or “positive feelings that are conditional upon desirable behavior” would do well to seek assistance from Filial or Family Therapies. Regardless of what interventions are chosen, children and loved ones who have been diagnosed with ADHD need structure, support, understanding, positive attention, and love.
7. Living With ADHD
Living with ADHD can make someone’s life much more difficult. Negative experiences associated with ADHD may lead to negative feelings about oneself, which can have long lasting and damaging effects on one’s relationships and occupation. Seeking mental health treatment sooner rather than later can be of great benefit to you, if you believe you are suffering from ADHD. Even if you are not sure whether you have diagnosable ADHD, you could consult with a mental health professional.