What is Attention-Deficit Disorder?
We all know kids who can’t sit still, who never seem to listen, who don’t follow instructions no matter how clearly you present them, or who blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times.
Sometimes these children are labeled as troublemakers, or criticized for being lazy and undisciplined. However, they may have what is known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), formerly known as attention deficit disorder (ADD).
ADHD makes it difficult for people to inhibit their spontaneous responses—responses that can involve everything from movement to speech to attentiveness.
Causes Of Attention-Deficit Disorder
Attention-Deficit Disorder is a neurobiologically-based developmental disability estimated to affect between 3-5% of the school age population.
No one knows exactly what causes ADD or ADHD. Scientific evidence suggests that the disorder is genetically transmitted in many cases and results from a chemical imbalance or deficiency in certain neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help the brain regulate behavior.
Even though the exact cause of ADD or ADHD remains unknown, we do know that it is a neurologically-based medical problem. Parents and teachers do not cause ADD or ADHD. Still, there are many things that both can do to help a child manage his or her ADD or ADHD related difficulties. Before we look at what needs to be done, however, let us look at the common symptoms of attention-deficit disorder.
Symptoms Of Attention-Deficit Disorder
Because we expect very young children to be easily distractible and hyperactive, it’s the impulsive behaviors—the dangerous climb, the blurted insult—that often stand out in preschoolers with ADHD.
By age four or five, though, most children have learned how to pay attention to others, to sit quietly when instructed to, and not to say everything that pops into their heads. So by the time children reach school age, those with ADHD stand out in all three behaviors: inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Inattentiveness: It isn’t that children with ADHD can’t pay attention: when they’re doing things they enjoy or hearing about topics in which they’re interested, they have no trouble focusing and staying on task. But when the task is repetitive or boring, they quickly tune out.
Staying on track is another common problem. Children with ADHD often bounce from task to task without completing any of them or skip necessary steps in procedures. Organizing their schoolwork and their time is harder for them than it is for most children.
Kids with ADHD also have trouble concentrating if there are things going on around them; they usually need a calm, quiet environment in order to stay focused.
Children who only have inattentive symptoms of ADHD are often overlooked since they’re not disruptive. However, the symptoms of inattention have consequences: getting in hot water with parents and teachers for not following directions; underperforming in school or clashing with other kids over not playing by the rules.
Hyperactivity: The most obvious sign of ADHD is hyperactivity. While many children are naturally quite active, kids with hyperactive symptoms of attention deficit disorder are always moving.
They may try to do several things at once, bouncing around from one activity to the next. Even when forced to sit still which can be very difficult for them their foot is tapping, their leg is shaking, or their fingers are drumming.
Impulsive: The impulsivity of children with ADHD can cause problems with self-control. Because they censor themselves less than other kids do, they’ll interrupt conversations, invade other people’s space, ask irrelevant questions in class, make tactless observations, and ask overly personal questions.
Instructions like “Be patient” and “Just wait a little while” are twice as hard for children with ADHD to follow as they are for other youngsters.
Children with impulsive signs and symptoms of ADHD also tend to be moody and to overreact emotionally. As a result, others may start to view the child as disrespectful, weird, or needy.
Positive effects of ADHD in children
In addition to the challenges, there are also positive traits associated with people who have attention deficit disorder:
Creativity – Children who have ADHD can be marvelously creative and imaginative. The child who daydreams and has ten different thoughts at once can become a master problem-solver, a fountain of ideas, or an inventive artist. Children with ADHD may be easily distracted, but sometimes they notice what others don’t see.
Flexibility – Because children with ADHD consider a lot of options at once, they don’t become set on one alternative early on and are more open to different ideas.
Enthusiasm and spontaneity – Children with ADHD are rarely boring! They’re interested in a lot of different things and have lively personalities. In short, if they’re not exasperating you (and sometimes even when they are), they’re a lot of fun to be with.
Energy and drive – When kids with ADHD are motivated, they work or play hard and strive to succeed. It actually may be difficult to distract them from a task that interests them, especially if the activity is interactive or hands-on.
Keep in mind, too, that ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. Many children with ADHD are intellectually or artistically gifted.
Do you have an ADHD child, or do you know of anyone with ADHD, share your views in the comments space below. We would love to learn from your experience.
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