Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral development disorder among children. In the United States there are at least 2 million grade school children that are diagnosed with the disorder (Dupper, 2003). ADHD is determined to be one of the most common development disorders in children (Barlow & Durand, 2009). This paper will discuss the different aspects of ADHD, its symptoms, common traits, and the known treatments being used by clinicians. Moreover, the paper will also touch on the important things to consider when dealing with ADHD, particularly in the area of social work. By doing so, it will determine why social work should be an integral part of the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVE DISORDER (ADHD)
Dr. George Still was the first to diagnose ADHD in 1902 (Rafalovich, 2001). He detected the disorder in 20 children who all had impaired concentration and over-activity. However it was only after the encephalitis outbreak in the United States from 1917- 1918 that serious study of the disorder took place (Rafalovich, 2001). Clinically called encephalitis luthargica was identified as a specific disease category of children demonstrating unconventional behavior (Rafalovich, 2001). The study of encephalitis luthargica paved the way for research modality in psychiatry that became the neurological basis for childhood deviance, exemplified by modern study of ADHD (Rafalovich, 2001). Today ADHD holds the distinction of being the most studied development disorder in children (Rafalovich, 2001).
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IV Text Revision classifies ADHD as an attention-deficit and disruptive behavior disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Children diagnosed with the disorder usually suffer from attention problems and uncontrollable behavior. More often than not, these children will have impaired social skills, poor academic performance, and even weak occupational functioning (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
There are three known classifications or subtypes of ADHD (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The first is predominantly hyperactive-impulsive that is characterized by overzealousness in physical activity (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The second is predominantly inattentive (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Children suffering from this second subtypes usually have problems getting along with other children. And the third classification of ADHD is a combination of hyperactive-impulsive and inattention, characterized by distinctive traits from the first two classifications (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Most children diagnosed with ADHD fall under the third subtype.
Children with ADHD are first identified as exhibiting unusual behavior between the ages of 3 and 4 (Barlow & Durand, 2009). However the first clear signs of the disorder may appear at 7 years of life (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). ADHD are more likely to occur in boys than girls (Dupper, 2003). In fact, out of 2 million children diagnosed with the disorder in the United States, 10% grade school boys while 5% are grade school girls (Dupper, 2003). Even though ADHD is more commonly associated with children it is considered as a chronic disorder. Most children diagnosed with ADHD carry the disorder until adulthood (Barlow & Durand, 2009). SYMPTOMS OF ADHD
Parents of children with ADHD will usually describe them as active, mischievous, slow to toilet-train, and even defiant (Barlow & Durand, 2009). While these are simple and practical descriptions of children with ADHD, they are true signs of the disorder. As mentioned earlier, some symptoms of ADHD may be detected even before a child reaches the age of 7 (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Most of the time children with ADHD exhibit symptoms in familiar settings, like at home and in school (American Psychiatric...