Approximately 3-5% of all American children have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). ADD is a leading cause of school failure and under-achievement. ADD characteristics often arise in early childhood. As many as 50% of children with ADD are never diagnosed. Boys significantly outnumber girls, though girls are more likely to be undiagnosed with ADD. ADD is not an attention disorder, but a disorder of impulse control (Pfiffrer 184).
Characteristics of Attention Deficit Disorder can include: Fidgeting with hands or feet, difficulty remaining seated, awaiting turns in games, following through on instructions, and shifting from one uncompleted task to another. They also have difficulty playing quietly, they interrupt conversations and intrude into other children's games, appear to be not listening to what is being said, and do things that are dangerous without thinking about the consequences (Mills 23). Attention Deficit Disorder is strongly considered genetically inherited, however, not all cases of ADD may be genetically linked. Studies have shown that 20-30% of all hyperactive children have a least one parent with ADD. The environment is a big influence on a child during pregnancy and after. Some studies show that smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs during pregnancy, influenced a small percentage of ADD cases.
Exposure to toxins, such as lead, may also alter the brain chemistry and function (Pfiffner 78). If you suspect that you are suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder you will need to discuss it with your medical doctor. In most cases the doctor will recommend that you visit a psychologist for an evaluation. The psychologist is professionally trained in human behavior and will be able to provide counseling and testing in areas related to mental health.
The psychologist is not able to prescribe medication to help you, but may send you to a psychiatrist to prescribe and monitor medication. A neurologist may be consulted in order to rule out neurological conditions causing your symptoms. Your doctor will gather information about your past and present difficulties, medical history, current psychological makeup, educational and behavioral functioning. Depending on your symptoms, your diagnosis may be categorized as ADD, inattentive type ADD, or hyperactive / impulsive type ADD (ADHD). After your diagnosis you may learn that you are also suffering from a learning disability, depression, or substance abuse, which is often associated with ADD. There is no cure for Attention Deficit Disorder.
'Along with increasing awareness of the problem, a better understanding of its causes and treatment has developed (Barkley 17) '. There is medication for ADD which will only alleviate the symptoms. The medication will not permanently restore the chemical balance. Approximately 70% of adults with ADD find that their symptoms significantly improve after they take medication prescribed by their doctors. The patient is able to concentrate on difficult and time-consuming tasks, stop impulsive behavior, and tame the restless twitches that have been experienced in the past.
Some ADD patient's psychological and behavioral problems are not solved by medication alone, and are required more therapy or training (Reif 92-93). There are two types of drugs that work to balance the neurotransmitters and have been found to be most effective in treating ADD. Stimulants are drugs that stimulate or activate brain activity. Stimulants work by increasing the amount of dopamine either produced in the brain or used by the frontal lobes of the brain.
There are several different stimulants that may work to alleviate the symptoms of ADD, including (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), and pe moline (Cy lert). Stimulants are by far the most effective medications in the treatment of ADD. Some patients respond well to antidepressants. Antidepressants also stimulate brain activity in the frontal lobes, but they affect the production and use of other chemicals, usually norepinephrine and serotonin. The antidepressants considered most useful for ADD include (Tofranil), (Norpramin), (Wellbutrin), and hydrochloride (Prozac). (Sudderth 54) All stimulants have the same set of side effects.
Some patients complain of feeling nauseous or headachy at the outset of treatment, but find that these side effects pass within a few days. Others find that their appetites are suppressed and or that they have difficulty sleeping. If the stimulant dosage is too high the patient may experience feelings of nervousness, agitation, and anxiety. In rare cases, increased heart rate and high blood pressure can result with the use of stimulants, especially if the patient has an underlying predisposition toward hypertension.
All the drugs used to treat ADD have the same goal: to provide the brain with the raw materials it needs to concentrate over a sustained period of time, control impulses, and regulate motor activity. The drug or combination of drugs that work best for you depends on the individual's brain chemistry and constellation of symptoms. The process of finding the right drug can be tricky for each individual. The physicians are not able to accurately predict how any one individual will respond to various doses or types of Attention Deficit Disorder medication. Attention Deficit Disorder is difficult for any family. ADD challenges the relationships and the issues of daily family life.
Getting a family household to function smoothly is challenging for any family, with or without the presence of ADD. Adults and children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder have trouble establishing and maintaining physical order, coordinating schedules and activities, and accepting and meeting responsibilities. Parents with children suffering with ADD have to learn how to deal with the obstacles that they will have while raising their child (Reif 53). Adults dealing with ADD often have chronic employment problems, impulsive spending, and erratic bookkeeping and bill paying.
Raising healthy, well-adjusted children requires patience, sound judgment, good humor, and, discipline which is difficult for an ADD parent to do. The presence of ADD often hinders the development of intimate relationships for a variety of reasons. Although many adults with ADD enjoy successful, satisfying marriages, the disorder almost always adds a certain amount of extra tension and pressure to the union. The non-ADD spouse bears an additional burden of responsibility for keeping the household running smoothly and meeting the needs of the children, the spouse with ADD, and, if he or she has time, his or her own priorities. Parenting a child who has ADD can be an exhausting and, at times, frustrating experience. Parents play a key role in managing the disability.
They usually need specialized training in behavior management and benefit greatly from parent support groups. Parents often find that approaches to parenting that work well with children who do not have ADD, do not work as well with children who have ADD. Parents often feel helpless, frustrated and exhausted. Too often, family members become angry and withdraw from each other. If untreated, the situation only worsens.
Parent training can be one of the most important and effective interventions for a child with ADD. Effective training will teach parents how to apply strategies to manage their child's behavior and improve their relationship with their child. Without consistent structure and clearly defined expectations and limits, children with ADD can become quite confused about the behaviors that are expected of them (Pfiffner 96). Making and keeping friends is a difficult task for children with ADD. A variety of behavioral excesses and deficits common to these children get in the way of friendships. They may talk too much, dominate activities, quit a game before it's done.
They may be unable to pay attention to what another child is saying, not respond when someone else tries to initiate an activity, or exhibit inappropriate behavior (Sudderth 75). I decided to write my essay on Attention Deficit Disorder because my eleven-year old brother has been diagnosed with the disorder. I hope that my relationship with my brother can become closer now that I have a better understanding of what he is suffering from. Works Cited Mills, Jerry.
Don't Doubt the Dream. Marquette, Michigan. Impulse Presentations, 1994. Sudderth, David MD and Kandel, Joseph MD. Adult ADD: The Complete Handbook: Everything You Need to Know About How to Cope and Live Well with ADD/ADHD.
Prima Publishing. 1997 Barkley, Russell A. Taking Care of ADHD, Revised Edition. Guilford Press. 2000 Reif, Sandra F. How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children: Practical Techniques, Strategies, and Interventions for Helping Children with Attention Problems and Hyper.
Center for Applied Research in Education. 1993 Pfiffrer, Linda. All About ADHD (Grades K-8). Scholastic Trade. 1999 Reif, Sandra F.
The ADD/ADHD Checklist. Prentice Hall Trade. 1998.