One of the most common disorders that affects children is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It can continue to impact the person even on into adulthood. The primary symptoms include hyperactivity (being overly active), problems paying attention and maintaining focus and problems controlling impulses and behaviour. There are three subtypes of ADHD: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive; predominantly inattentive and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive. The type most frequently diagnosed in children is the combined type. Sometimes ADHD is referred to as merely “hyperactivity” or Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD). Typically, the symptoms of the disorder are apparent before a child turns seven, and may be observed when they are infants.
Symptoms which may be indicative of ADHD include failure to give close attention to detail, difficulty in maintaining focus while playing or performing tasks, difficulty following directions, failure to finish projects, including homework and chores at home, forgetfulness, being easily distracted and difficulty organizing activities or tasks. Symptoms pertaining to hyperactivity and impulsivity include always being “on the go”, difficulty sitting still or staying seated when supposed to sit, tendency to be fidgety, being talkative and a tendency to interruption and restlessness.
Experts don’t know exactly what causes ADHD. However, several different factors may contribute to the development of this disorder. These include heredity, with ADHD appearing to have a genetic component. A person is more likely to have ADHD if there is a family history or relatives with the disorder. Brain structure and activity-brain imaging of individuals with ADHD show differences when compared to the brains of individuals who do not have the disorder. Environmental factors such as the mother smoking, drinking or using drugs during pregnancy, exposure to toxins, such as lead, early in childhood and fetal exposure to toxins such as PCBs all increase the risk of developing ADHD.
While there isn’t a cure for ADHD, various types of treatment such as medication, skills training, psychotherapy, family therapy, and support groups can all help an individual with ADHD lead a more productive life. Medications for ADHD often include stimulants, such as Ritalin, Adderall, Cylert or Dexedrine. A non-stimulant medication, Strattera, is also prescribed for the treatment of ADHD.