What is ADD/ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also known as ADD, is an increasingly prevalent developmental disorder in society today. It is diagnosed by a person’s persistent inability to concentrate and focus attention on a given task, and is usually eminent in early childhood. Although some children may manage the symptoms of ADHD in childhood, these can continue in adolescence and adulthood. ADHD therefore affects children and adults.
Diagnosis and Symptoms:
The following symptoms typify ADHD:
1. Hyperactive behavior. A person with ADHD may talk excessively, fidget or walk around when inappropriate (in class or at a meeting). Older children and adults may be unable to read, listen to or watch something quietly for a period of time due to feeling restless and hyperactive.
2. Distractibility and Inattention. Adults and children with ADHD are easily distracted and struggle to pay attention to instructions. They may be inattentive and have difficulty organizing information and focusing on given tasks.
3. Impulsive Behavior. Children with ADHD often cannot wait their turn in to speak in class, interrupting others and/or shouting answers. Adolescents and adults who take rash or reckless decisions, or are often erratic in jobs or relationships, may have ADHD if these are recurring behaviors.
There are three types of ADHD:
1. ADHD, Combined Type The individual displays both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.
2. ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type The symptoms of this type are chiefly related to inattention. The individual displays insignificant hyperactive/impulsive behavior, (ADD and not ADHD).
3. Hyperactive Predominantly -Impulsive Type Symptoms are mainly related to hyperactivity and impulsiveness. An Individual with this type of ADHD does not display significant inattention symptoms.
While all children can be inattentive or hyperactive at times, this type of behavior can be diagnosed as ADHD when it is consistent, and if the child’s behavior is different from that of other children in the same age, gender, and developmental level, for at least six months, then further diagnosis into the type, and intensity of ADHD can be considered. Your doctor should do an examination first to ensure that the child’s hyperactive behavior is not the cause of another illness.
Treatment of ADHD:
The available treatment for ADHD is medication, and behavioral therapy. The medication, behavioral therapy or a combination of these can significantly reduce symptoms in any individual. Family counseling and education can be very beneficial to the family of an ADHD patient.
Let’s look at treatment options more closely:
Stimulants are generally used to treat adults and children with ADHD. There are various stimulant medicines available, and some people may respond better to one type than another. Commonly prescribed stimulants include: Ritalin, Dexedrine, Concerta, among others. An approved non-stimulant medicine is Stattera (Atomoxetine). A doctor will prescribe the best alternative, taking into account the person’s medical history and reaction to the different types of medication.
Ask your doctor for tips in combating the common side effects of ADHD medication.
Family counseling, Education, Behavioral Therapy:
In cases where ADHD in a child or adult is seriously detrimental to home life, self esteem and relationships, family counseling on how to manage ADHD on a daily basis can be beneficial and is often recommended, in addition to medication. Family counseling can often help to eliminate the stigma that some parents associate with their child’s diagnosis of ADHD, and can leave the person with ADHD feeling more comfortable to talk about it, and better equipped to deal with the symptoms.
As a parent of a child with ADHD, or an adult with ADHD symptoms, educating oneself through the many credible sources available in book form and on the Internet is the best way to find out about the condition and what can be done to reduce symptoms. Behavioral therapy is a process in which an individual’s behavior is assessed and monitored for a period of time, to ascertain how severe the ADHD is, if present at all. This method of treatment is also recommended in conjunction with medication, while some individuals may overcome symptoms with therapy alone.
In addition, there is extensive support available for individuals with ADHD (at school and professional level), as well as for teachers and parents of children with ADHD and ADD. Support groups can be located on the Internet, or through teachers at your child’s school. In the interest of a child with ADHD, constant communication should take place between the parents, teachers, and doctor.
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