Most people have heard of the term Attention Deficit Hyperactive (ADHD) disorder. "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder that interferes with an individual's ability to attend to tasks (inattention), inhibits one's behavior (impulsivity), and may interfere with a person's ability to regulate one's activity level (hyper-activity) in developmentally appropriate ways (Barkley 19)". The most important job for teachers and parents is to separate fact from fiction, to clarify what we know and don't know.
Properly diagnosing ADHD, medication choices, and behavioral interventions are the key focal point. Is medication truly worth the side effects? Diagnosing ADHD
As the name implies, ADHD is typically characterized by two distinct sets of symptoms: inattention and hyperactivity / impulsivity. Although these problems usually occur together, one may be present without the other and still qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. Children are diagnosed with ADHD when they have met specific guidelines within these two categories.
A number of parents observe signs of inattentiveness, restlessness, and impulsivity in their child even before their child starts school. The child might lose attention while playing a game or watching TV, or the child might dash about totally unrestrained. Since children mature at different levels and vary in character, nature, and energy levels, it is critical to obtain a specialist's diagnosis of whether the behavior is suitable for the child's age, the child has ADHD or the child is simply immature or uncommonly high-spirited.
To qualify as having ADHD, the symptoms must significantly affect a child's ability to function at home and at school. A diagnosis is based on the guidelines provided in the "American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) published in 1994 (Barkley 133)". In general, children are diagnosed with ADHD if they show at least six symptoms from each category. Dr. Berkley lists the following symptoms for each category:
Often fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
Often has trouble sustaining attention during tasks or play
Often doesn't seem to listen when spoken to directly
Often doesn't follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
Often has difficulty organizing tasks or activities
Often avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework
Often loses things needed for tasks or activities, such as books, pencils, toys or tools
Is often easily distracted
Is often forgetful
Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
Often leaves seat in the classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected
Often runs or climbs excessively when it's not appropriate, or, if an adolescent might constantly feel restless
Often has difficulty playing quietly
Is often "on the go" or acts as if "driven by a motor"
Often talks excessively
Often blurts out the answers before questions have been completely asked
Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn
Often interrupts or intrudes on others by butting into conversations or games (Barkley 133-134)
Medications have been utilized to treat the symptoms of ADHD for decades. The medications that appear to be the most efficient and most prescribed are a class of drugs branded as stimulants. The methylphenidate classes of medications such as Concerta®, Ritalin® and Ritalin SR® /LA® are "nervous stimulants that help increase attention and decrease impulsivity in individuals with ADHD ("Prescription Medication Overview")". Research done at Brookhaven National Laboratory has show that people taking stimulant medication in its prescribed form do not become...
American Academy of Physicians "ADHD: What Parents Should Know." Family Doctor, 10 April, 2005
Barkley, Russel A. Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents. New York: The Gilford Press, 2000.
Eli Lilly and Company "Strattera." Strattera 10 April, 2005
McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, a Division of McNeil-PPC, Inc "Prescription
Medication Overview" Focus on ADHD. 14 April, 2005
Rabnier, David. "Behavioral Treatment for ADHD: An Overview." Health. 14 April, 2205
Wilens, Timothy E. Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for Kids New York: The Guilford Press, 1999.
Wilens T.C. et all. Does stimulant therapy of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder beget later substance abuse? A meta-analytic review of the literature. Pediatrics, (2003) 111:1:179-185.
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