Imagine living in a world where sights, sounds, images and thoughts are constantly changing and shifting. Unable to focus on whatever task is at hand, your mind wanders from one activity or thought to the next. Sometimes you become so lost among all the thoughts and images that you don't even notice when someone is speaking to you.
This is what it is like for many people who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Once called hyperkinesis or minimal brain dysfunction, ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders among children. It affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, and it is likely to occur two to three times more in boys than in girls.
People who have ADHD may be unable to sit still, plan ahead, finish tasks, or be completely aware of what is going on in the world around them. However, on some occasions, they may appear "normal", leading others to believe that the person with ADHD can control such behaviors. As a result of this, ADHD can hinder the person's relationships and interactions with others in addition to disrupting their daily life and lowering self-esteem.
To determine whether or not a person has ADHD, specialists must consider several questions: Do these behaviors occur more often than in other people of the same age? Are the behaviors an ongoing problem, not just a response to a [temporary] situation? Do the behaviors occur only in one specific place or in several different settings?
In answering these questions, the person's behavior patterns are compared to a set of criteria and characteristics of ADHD. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) presents this set of criteria. According to the DSM, there are three patterns of behavior that indicate ADHD: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
According to the DSM, signs of inattention include: becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds; failing to pay attention to details...