Attention-DeficitHyperactivity Disorder By Julie Gabaldon
Overview Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is themost common neurobehavioral disorder in children. It is a developmental disorder that affects 3% to 5%of children, and is more prevalent in boys than in girls(four to five times more likely). ADHD is characterized by inattentiveness, over-activity, and/or impulsivity. In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, signs andsymptoms of the disorder must appear before the ageof 7. In some children, signs of ADHD are noticeable asearly as 2 or 3 years of age.
Signs/Symptoms Signs and symptoms of inattention may include: Often fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities Often has trouble sustaining attention during tasks or play Seems not to listen even when spoken to directly Has difficulty following through on instructions and often fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks • Often has problems organizing tasks or activities • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework • Frequently loses needed items, such as books, pencils, toys or tools • Can be easily distracted • Often forgetful
Signs/Symptoms Cont’d. Signs and symptoms of hyperactive and impulsive behavior may include: Often leaves his or her seat in the classroom or in other situations when remaining seated is expected Fidgets or squirms frequently Frequently has difficulty playing quietly Always seems on the go Talks excessively Often runs or climbs excessively when its not appropriate or, if an adolescent, might constantly feel restless Blurts out the answers before questions have been completely asked Frequently has difficulty waiting for his or her turn Often interrupts or intrudes on others conversations or games
Causes Altered brain function and anatomy. While the exact cause of ADHD remains a mystery, brain scans have revealed important differences in the structure and brain activity of people with ADHD. For example, there appears to be less activity in the areas of the brain that control activity levels and attention. Heredity. ADHD tends to run in families. Several genes that may be associated with ADHD are currently being studied. Maternal smoking, drug use and exposure to toxins. Pregnant women who smoke are at increased risk of having children with ADHD. Alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy may reduce activity of the nerve cells (neurons) that produce neurotransmitters. Pregnant women who are exposed to environmental poisons also may be more likely to have children with symptoms of ADHD. Childhood exposure to environmental toxins. Preschool children exposed to certain toxins are at increased risk of developmental and behavioral problems. Exposure to lead, which is found mainly in paint and pipes in older buildings, has been linked to disruptive and even violent behavior and to a short attention span.Theres still a lot that remains a mystery about ADHD, but the factors above have been known to either cause or contribute to the disorder. ~ The Mayo Clinic
Treatment Stimulant medications (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana, Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat) Nonstimulant medications (Atomoxetine) Antidepressents High blood pressure medications Counseling and therapy (behavior therapy, psychotherapy, parenting skills training, family therapy, social skills training, support groups)
Managing ADHD in the Classroom Create a structured environment. Establish a daily routine that is consistent and predictable. Give directions that are clear and easy for the child to follow. Offer praise and positive reinforcement. Provide challenging experiences that are within the child’s skill and tolerance levels. Provide children with opportunities for developing new interests, especially physical activities where they can channel energy and learn to relax. ~ Marotz, 2009
On a Side NoteTeachers should make every effort to educatethemselves about any and all health issues thata child in their classroom may face. They shouldbring awareness, education and understandingto the other students in the classroom, andmake it known that there will be no tolerancefor ridicule or discrimination by anyone, at anytime. With proper support, guidance andtreatment, children can gain the ability tomanage ADHD (or any other healthissue/disorder they may have) in order to thrivein all aspects of life.
References Marotz, L. R. (2009). Health, safety and nutrition for the young child. (7 ed., pp. 107-109). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar, Cengage Learning. Mayo Clinic staff. (2011). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (adhd) in children. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275/ME THOD=print