MARGARET AUSTIN, PH.D., NATALIE STAATS REISS, PH.D., AND LAURA BURGDORF, PH.D. Nov 5, 2007 Updated Mar 28, 2016
ADHD is a neurological disorder that develops during childhood and can persist into adulthood. Although adult ADHD is more common than initially thought, not all children who have these symptoms will go on to have the adult version of the disorder. Childhood symptoms may also change across the lifespan; some fade (e.g., diminished hyperactivity) while others may be expressed differently (e.g., chronic disorganization may result in getting fired from jobs).
ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders. Approximately 3-7% of school-aged children have the disorder. Prevalence rates seem to vary by community, with some research indicating that larger cities may have rates as high as 10-15%.
ADHD produces symptoms characterized by:
- Poor impulse control.
The “attention deficit” component of ADHD refers to inattention, or difficulty focusing for long periods and being easily distractible. The “hyperactivity” portion of ADHD is used to describe behavior that is restless, agitated, and difficult to resist. Hyperactive individuals often appear as if they NEED to move. They are in almost constant motion, and frequently make excessive noise.
Although impulsivity is not included in the diagnostic label, it is also considered a behavior characteristic of this disorder. When impulsivity is paired with hyperactivity, the person appears to act without prior thought or intention. Impulsive behaviors are often intrusive, rude, and dangerous, sometimes resulting in accidents. For example, children may not think about landing when they jump off a ledge to catch a ball.
Given that all children tend to exhibit some of the behaviors characteristic of ADHD, such as daydreaming, restlessness, or thoughtlessness, it is important to understand the difference between normal behaviors and a true disorder. True ADHD symptoms are long-term and severe enough to impair someone’s everyday functioning. Moreover, symptoms must occur in more than one environment. For example, in children, this means that the ADHD symptoms interfere with success in school and relationships with parents, siblings, or peers. For adults, ADHD interferes with both work and family functioning.
Experts consider ADHD to be a chronic condition that has no cure. However, individuals with this disorder should not give up hope. There are many different treatment options that can help people successfully manage ADHD symptoms and move forward in their lives.
There is no shortage of material readily available on the Internet on the diagnosis and treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), including good primary source material as well as academic or scholarly studies. In fact, the question of whether ADHD is being properly diagnosed or, rather, is being misapplied or abused as an easy answer to the question of why so many children, especially boys, are unruly or seemingly incapable of focusing...
There is no shortage of material readily available on the Internet on the diagnosis and treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), including good primary source material as well as academic or scholarly studies. In fact, the question of whether ADHD is being properly diagnosed or, rather, is being misapplied or abused as an easy answer to the question of why so many children, especially boys, are unruly or seemingly incapable of focusing on a task, particularly in the class room, is a valid topic for a research paper. Some parents and others believe that too many children are now being categorized as ADHD is a convenient means of justifying the use of prescription medications to sedate or chemically alter the behavior of children who might otherwise simply be “too energetic.” There is no question that boys are “wired” differently than girls; having spent hundreds of hours in elementary schools observing and working with both, this educator can attest to the visible distinction between the behavioral patterns of the two genders at early ages, both in the classroom and in the cafeteria and on the playground. Boys, in general, are more physically active and less able to “sit still” at a desk than are girls of the same age group. Whether that means they are ADHD, however, is an entirely other matter. Many, though, are being categorized as ADHD and are being subjected to treatments for that condition. A thesis focusing on that subject would be both feasible and worthwhile, as would a thesis focusing on treatment options, such as the question of whether medications are being properly or overly prescribed and administered.
Linked below are websites for the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, both of which provide definitions and voluminous usable data on ADHD that should be used in any research project on this subject. The CDC site in particular will be very helpful in attaining data and linking to additional articles on the subject of ADHD. A good article to consult is “Are Stimulants Overprescribed?: Treatment of ADHD in Four U.S. Communities, at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890856709665278” Many of these articles may only be available in abstract form or require payment for access; in such cases, it is recommended that the student visit a library, preferably a university library, to attain a hard copy. Simply by typing in the phrase “diagnosis and treatment of ADHD,” however, will provide many useful links to this topic.