ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders among children and often lasts into adulthood. Zachary Blumkin, PsyD, states that “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), like any diagnosis, is a label that represents a cluster of specific symptoms. In ADHD, these symptoms include hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive behaviors.” It is commonly observed in boys during their early school years and characterized by the inability to pay attention for an extended period. Children who are having this type of condition usually cannot sit still inside the classroom, unable to control their impulses and hyperactive most of the time. They are acting without thinking of the possible results of their actions. Teachers often misinterpret the behaviors that need to be corrected or impose discipline.
Types And Causes Of ADHD
There are three different types of ADHD:
Predominantly Inattentive Presentation. Forgetfulness characterizes this, can easily be distracted, inability to follow instructions, inability to pay attention, and difficulty in finishing a task. In an interview, Ari Tuckman, PsyD, states that “there’s some people who have ADHD Inattentive Type. What this means is they have trouble with inattention, but they’re not hyperactive.”
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation. A person who is impulsive and hyperactive tends to talk a lot, can’t sit still for a long time, restless, grab things from other people, speak at inappropriate times, and can’t wait for their turn. They are usually prone to accidents and injuries than others.
Combined Presentation. Symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive presentation are all present in a person. According to Carey A. Heller, PsyD, “ADHD runs in families. It may be genetic, as well. The condition also has an environmental component.”
Scientists propose a solid connection of genetics in the development of ADHD. Not only one but several genomes are identified as the precursor to ADHD, as such the term polygenetic cause. Non-genetic causes are alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, exposure to harmful substances during pregnancy, brain injury, premature delivery, and low birth weight.
Treatments For Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Medications commonly prescribed for attention deficit disorder are stimulants that include amphetamines (Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat) and methylphenidate (Methylin, Metadate, Concerta, Ritalin). Taking stimulants as directed by a psychiatrist or physician, even it imposes a risk, is safe and useful in the treatment of ADHD.
This can present a confusing state, and most parents would disagree on stimulants as part of the medication regimen. Nonetheless, child psychiatrists explain that children with ADHD need to stop self-stimulating. When given a stimulant, the brain no longer finds ways to preoccupy their attention thus they are now capable of listening and follow directions. This is called the paradoxical effect of the drug. Non-medication stimulants are also applicable such as offering lollipop for oral stimulation and video games. However, these can only last for a short duration.
Psychotherapy, also known as cognitive-behavioral therapy, is mandatory for those having ADHD with long-term issues. It helps the child to express his/her upsetting thoughts and feelings, learn alternative ways of handling emotions, identify and enhance their strengths, cope with daily problems, and control their aggression and attention. Psychotherapy is also beneficial for the family to manage and improve their child’s behavior.
A specific type of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, is more focused on the management of immediate issues. The aim of this therapy is the change in the behavior of a child characterized by more organized schoolwork or tasks and can handle emotionally charged events every time they occur. Children may be asked to monitor their behavior and reward themselves every time they stop to think before reacting to a specific situation.
Social And External Support
Mutual self-help support groups are also beneficial for individuals with ADHD. Communication with other people with ADHD leads to openness in sharing their problems and pieces of advice to one another. Through this support group, they feel accepted among each other and can safely let off steam. The group can also invite people who are experts in giving lectures and answer questions with regards to their condition. Aside from that, they can also help their members in getting referrals to reliable specialists.
Parents who undergo training from an ADHD therapist or coach are more effective in handling their children with ADHD than those who don’t. The training will help them to understand more their children, convert their energy into a productive task, and correct them in a positive and reinforcing manner. Unfortunately, the condition is not treatable finding a cure is still not probable at this time. Continued scientific and medical research is even conducted to reinforce and augment the interventions on ADHD.