What is ADHD and how is it treated? By: Mical Gaynor
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. According to Oakland and Brue (2002), “From 6% to 8% of school-aged children (approximately 2 to 3 million) are affected in the United States.” Treatment of ADHD ranges from many types of medications that are stimulants to more natural remedies. In this study we will take a look at our brain and how it functions with ADHD, the symptoms of ADHD, treatment options as well as ways to support children with ADHD.
Online tool to determine if you have symptoms of ADHD http://www.trustyguides.com/adhd6.html
Brain function Our brain has many neurons that are packed into various regions of the brain. Each region has a job and is responsible for a particular function of our body. Some help us interpret things so we know what to say or do and some interact within our body and help regulate the function of our organs. Neurotransmitters are produced by the neurons in tiny quantities. Their job is to be message carriers. They stimulate the appropriate neuron in the brain so that the message that is needed will reach the brain region it is destined for. To see a neurotransmitter work click here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90cj4NX87Yk
ADHD brain Brain scientists have found that a deficiency in the specific neurotransmitters nor epinephrine and dopamine cause the ADHD disorder (Silver, 2006). Neurotransmitters are used by the brain to stimulate or repress stimulation in brain cells. To pay proper attention, the brain must be adequately stimulated. To have proper control of our impulses, areas of the brain must be adequately controlled, repressed, or slowed down. In ADHD children, both systems of stimulation and repression are not working correctly. Some studies suggest that ADHD Children/Adults may have only ten to twenty-five percent of these two neurotransmitters found in the normal brain. An good overview on ADHD and the brain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJHT5XROrBA
Defining ADHD: Symptoms
Often fidgets or squirms about when seated
Is easily distracted
Talks out of turn
Has trouble with follow through
Has difficulty staying on task
Shifts rapidly from one task to another without completing first task or activity
Seems unable to play quietly
Frequently interrupts or intrudes
Seldom listens attentively
Is disorganized: loses assignments, pencils, toys.
Often seems unaware of consequences and so engages in potentially dangerous behavior. (Allen & Bowdery, 2010)
What to do next? Seeing a pediatrician is often the first step. The child’s doctor can determine if the child has ADHD by using standard guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. These guidelines are for children 6 to 12 years of age. Children 5 and under are very difficult to diagnose and so are teenagers (Gelfand, MD, 2008). The middle childhood years are the best years to diagnose and provide help for children with ADHD. The process for diagnosing ADHD is several steps and is very involved. The parents, teachers and other caregivers all should be involved in assessing the child. Once the diagnosis is clear the physician will proceed with treatment options.
Child Development and ADHD
According to Piaget children in the middle childhood years (ages 7-12) begin and master learning in the concrete operational stage. This stage is characterized by active and appropriate use of logic and is tied to concrete, physical reality. Children in this stage are mastering the ability to use organized, formal, logical mental processes (Feldman, 2007).
ADHD affects children primarily in this age group. ADHD makes it challenging for the child to focus on the process of learning and sustain information long enough to master new skills and move on to the next step.
Education for the child and family
Drug treatment or natural remedies
The most popular drug treatments are stimulants. “Stimulant medications work by causing the brain to synthesize more nor epinephrine; non stimulants work by slowing the rate at which nor epinephrine is broken down. Once the level is where it should be the brain functions normally,” (Silver, 2006).
Popular stimulants include:
Diet and supplements
Dietary supplements are easily accessible and with relatively no side affects. Essential fatty acids are among the most popular. Essential fatty acids (Omega 3’s) are needed for proper cerebral functioning and may aid in the transmission of nerve impulses. Many children with ADHD cannot absorb essential fatty acids normally. Herbal medications such as Ginkgo Biloba are somewhat effective for disorders such as memory impairment. Lemon balm is also an herbal medication that is believed to help restore the balance and function of the brain and nerve cells (Brue & Oakland, 2002)
Resource for parents and caregivers Brain Gym
Brain Gym! Brain gym activities will help children come into balance with themselves. This is great for children with ADHD to use as a way to improve concentration and focus, memory, relationships, self responsibility, organizational skills and attitude (Dennison & Dennison 2010). Using PACE as a starting point is a great way to introduce brain gym activities. My personal favorites for focus are the cross crawl and lazy 8’s. See you tube below for demonstrations on PACE. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U44mPXEBdA Lazy 8’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaIN-PojS0g To learn more about brain gym: www.braingym.org
Other ways to support children coping with ADHD
Provide structure and consistency
Use clear communication, and give 1 direction at a time with eye contact
Provide an uncluttered, calm environment and atmosphere for studying
Give ample warning before you expect the child to change activities
Be in good communication with the others that care for the child and be consistent
Offer love and support as the child tries to meet expectations in life
Understand that ADHD is hard for the child to control and they are going to need your patience and guidance everyday
Annotated bibliography Brue, A, & Oakland, T. (2002). Alternative treatments for attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder: does evidence support their use?. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine , 8 (1) Brue and Oakland report on studies of various treatments of alternative medicines. Clinical studies are done to show negative and positive affects in ADHD patients. Feldman, R. (2007). Child development, 4th edition . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. An overview of child development. Reference was taken from two chapters on the middle middle childhood years and cognitive development. MD, Gelfand, J. (2008, July 10). Adhd guide . Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide Website gives an overview of ADHD, symptoms and treatments. Reference was given to steps to take in diagnosing and what to do next. MD, Silver, Larry. (2006, December). What is Adhd? attention deficit diagnosis and treatment information. ADDitudeMag , Retrieved from www.ADDitudeMag.com
Bibliography continued Allen, K. E., & Cowdery, G. (2010). The Exceptional Child (7 ed.). Albany: Delmar Publishers'. The text is a guide that allows you to identify and plan for educating children with diverse needs. Special reference was given to the section on ADHD. Dennison, P. E., & Dennison, G. E. (2010). Brain gym (Teacher's ed.). Ventura, CA: Edu- kinesthetics A collection of repatterning movements and activities which help children discover how to receive information and express themselves. Special attention was given to the movements meant to help with focus and calm. PlayingForChange. (n.d.). YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . Retrieved February 7, 2011, from http:// youtube.com You tube was used for various illustrations of the brain as well as demonstrations of brain gym movements. MD, L. S. (n.d.). Attention deficit diagnosis and treatment information. ADDitudeMag . Retrieved February 7, 2011, from http:// attitudemag.com ADDitute Mag is an online magazine. This resource helps caregivers and parents understand how to "live well" with ADHD.