Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the term used to describe a disorder which results in children being inattentive, impulsive and excessively active. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a commonly used term to refer to ADHD and was more prevalent earlier. In medical terms, ADD is one of the subtypes of ADHD.
There are currently three types of ADHD defined by the American Psyhchiatric Association in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Men-
tal Disorders (DSM-IV)1
What do these behaviours mean? How does this behaviour manifest itself in children?
As we look at this list, even our children exhibit a number of these behaviours often. In fact, virtually all children exhibit some of these behaviours. It is perfectly normal to do so.
ADHD is usually suspected only when there is an abnormal exhibitiion of such behaviour for a sustained period of time. Psychiatrics worldwide use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders1 (DSM-IV) as their primary reference book. The DSM-IV suggests that atleast 6 of the characteristics of each behaviour should have been present for atleast 6 months for a possible diagnosis of ADHD. There are number of other criteria that must also be satisfied before determining that a child has ADHD.
We do not clearly know what causes ADHD, yet. A number of theories have been proposed, researched and rejected. Neurological and generic influences are still being researched worldwide to try and isolate the causes of ADHD.
ADHD can result in learning disabilities, delayed language skills, delayed verbal development, diminished motor skills etc.,
ADHD can have significant impact on school performance. A collaboration and partnership between the parents, the school and the teacher are required to ensure we provide the right environments to mitigate the effects of ADHD.
Hyperactivity maybe perceived to be disruptive in social settings. Lack of attention maybe perceived as laziness. Some children also exhibit aggressive behaviour which may result in social isolation.
ADHD also commonly occurs with other conditions like learning disorders (eg., dyslexia), Tourette syndrome, Oppositional defiant disorder (angry and stubborn disobedience of adults), Anxiety and Depression5.
There is no known cure for ADHD. There are multiple treatments that can effective with children. One approach is a behavioral treatment. In this approach, all parties that are in the child's environment (family, teachers, therapists etc.,) work together to enable a modification in the child's behavior. Another approach is medication. In some cases, both are combined in a multimodal approach. The treatment method chosen depends on the child, the parent, the doctor(s) and the environment around the child.
1. American Psychiatric Association, "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" Fourth Edition. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1994.
2. "Identifying and Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Resource for School and Home", U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs, Washington, D.C., 2006
3. Gross-Tsur V, Shaley RS, Amir N., "Attention deficit disorder: association with familial-genetic factors" Pediatr Neurol. 1991;7 (4):258 –261 ()
4. Prahbhjot Malhi, Pratibha Singhi "Spectrum of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders in Children Among Referrals to Psychology Services", Indian Pediatrics 2000;37: 1256-1260
5. National Institute of Mental Health, "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services
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