AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is not a new diagnosis: it was first described nearly 100 years ago, although at that time it was referred to simply as hyperactivity. Many normal children who are just overactive and energetic have been falsely labelled hyperactive, and much confusion has arisen due to misleading media coverage suggesting that hyperactive children are diffi¬cult and naughty. Thankfully we now know an awful lot more about this condition and many of its associated myths can be dispelled.

img ADHD ID 538 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Is Not A New Phenomena

Img: ADHD, source

ADHD refers to a slight but demonstrable difference in brain function which causes a clever child to academically underachieve and to behave badly despite receiving caring and adequate parenting. While it is true to say that we hear more about this condition these days, it has not increased in fre¬quency; rather, the medical profession has become more skilful at recognizing it and diagnosing it correctly.

Between 2 and 5 per cent of all children are said to be affected by ADHD, which is thought to be due to a minor brain dysfunc¬tion resulting in differences in the fine tuning of the normal brain and which is referred to in the United States as ‘minimal brain damage’. An imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters noradrenalin and dopamine are likely to be responsible, and it is these substances which allow a normal brain to inhibit any tendency to hyperactive behavior. In fact, areas of brain dysfunction can now be demonstrated using the latest brain-scanning techniques such as MRI and PET.

Symptoms Of ADHD

Children with ADHD exhibit two types of symptom, namely hyperactive impulsive behavior and attention deficit learning weakness. The former results in fidgeting, restlessness, being excessively noisy and always on the go and talking incessantly. Affected children are impulsive, show impatience and intoler¬ance and are easily frustrated. In the latter, their inattention causes difficulty in concentrating, they cannot give close atten¬tion to details, they fail to finish school work or simple chores, and they are forgetful and easily distracted. Physically they may be clumsy and accident prone. As they grow older the com¬pulsive behavior tends to improve although the learning and organizational problems may continue. ADHD is a strongly her¬editary condition with most affected children having a close relative who has also suffered. It is mostly seen in boys who are 6 times more likely to be referred than girls.

ADHD : The Consequences for Education

If untreated, the condition can affect a child’s learning right through their school years, although the problem first starts to come to the parents’ attention somewhere between the ages of 2 and 3. Teachers often notice the disorder in children (provided they have been trained to recognize it), as character¬istically the child will rush through their work, fidget and squirm in the class, call out inappropriately, take a long time to settle after a break and constantly fail to check work before it is handed in. Clearly this can affect their education in the future, especially as the condition is also associated with spe¬cific learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

It is vital to recognize ADHD since otherwise teachers who have not been trained to do so will label the child naughty and disruptive. Parents and teachers alike can find such children difficult or impossible to manage and may easily become exces¬sively punitive. Excessive use of force and hostility then leads to resentment which unfortunately sows the seeds of irretrievable relationship problems. Because ADHD children overreact to taunting, they are often sought out by school bullies, and later blamed for the fracas that follows. A child’s home life and environment should not be blamed for the condi¬tion, but it can certainly have an important bearing on the severity of the condition and its outcome. A devoted and talented teacher and a parent who is patient to the point of being saintly may be able to deal with the problem without need for treatment. Most ADHA sufferers, however, will need professional help and this involves behavioral advice, constant support at school and sometimes the use of stimulant medication.

Adequate information and advice to parents and teachers alike is vital. Generally speaking, society is encouraged to believe that children who behave badly have inadequate parents. In ADHD, however, it is the difficult child who is responsible for making competent, perfectly adequate parents seem at fault. Clearly there is much overlap between a normal energetic and fractious child and a child who has mild ADHD. Other causes of bad behavior must be eliminated and care taken to ensure a correct diagnosis. Many ADHD children will need thorough educational assessment and many will require specialized help with reading and spelling. The stresses on parents and siblings must be addressed and many useful poin¬ters can be given to achieve better behavior through practical solutions. Dietary changes have often been suggested as part of the treatment although food intolerance rarely causes ADHD to develop per se. Some artificial colorings and preservatives can, however, make things worse, and clinical ecologists and allergists may be able to help in providing elimination diets to try in the hope of improving matters.

About the Author: Leslie writes for and has a strong interest in the mental health field.


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