ADHD in Children (Part I)

Did you know?
In America, it has been reported that 3 to 5 percent of school-age children are diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). It is diagnosed 4 to 9 times as frequently in boys than girls as is usually visible by that age of 3 years although the majority of children are diagnosed after they are 5 years old.

Contrary to popular belief, ADD/ADHD often continues into adulthood and is not "outgrown" during adolescence or young adulthood. Additionally, ADD/ADHD has a strong genetic component (i.e., it is more likely to show up in children with parents or grandparents who have ADD/ADHD).

What Causes ADD/ADHD?
There are many different theories about the cause and treatment of ADD/ADHD. Medically speaking, it is believed that ADD/ADHD is the result of an imbalance in neurotransmitters or abnormal glucose metabolism in the central nervous system. Other theories propose that ADD/ADHD is caused by early neurological trauma, food additives, sugar, yeast products, or the actions of parents. The medical theory has the greatest support and the most amount of evidence to support it. Other theories are not as conclusive.

Why is ADD/ADHD so difficult to diagnose?
One of the difficulties in diagnosing ADD/ADHD or why it is so frequently misdiagnosed, is that the symptoms of ADD/ADHD are similar to the symptoms of other "clinical disorders." These disorders might include: Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. It is also confused with "normal" child developmental traits. Some children have temperaments that are more feisty, difficult, or energetic. These traits are confused with the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.

What are the symptoms of ADD/ADHD?
The most typical symptoms of ADD/ADHD include hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and distractibility. These symptoms are disruptive to normal school routines, hence the frequency of diagnoses during the school years. Examples of ADD/ADHD behavior include: Fidgeting with hands and feet; Difficulty remaining seated when required do so; Difficulty maintaining attention, waiting turns, or sharing in group situations; Blurting out answers to questions; Difficulty following instructions and following organized tasks; Moving from one unfinished activity to another unfinished activity; Making careless mistakes and failing to pay attention to details; Acting as if driven by a motor, and Reacting on the spur of the moment without regard for a plan. One of the things that is quickly understood, when reviewing these examples, is that these symptoms could merely be "exaggerations of normal child temperament." It is important that parents take a comprehensive approach to diagnosing their children before placing the ADD/ADHD label on them. This diagnoses requires that a full history and interview be made that includes parents, teachers, pediatricians, child therapists, and other specialists.