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Learning Disorders

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Also known as ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental disorder most often diagnosed at an early age, affecting up to five percent of children. Often associated with an inferior performance in school, it generally causes a lack of direct focus and an increased tendency to be distracted or hyperactive. Fortunately, ADHD is manageable, and most sufferers go on to live perfectly normal lives, though symptoms have been known to persist into adulthood. There has been some controversy over the severity of the disorder since its identification, but the medical community has largely accepted the impact it has had on children.

Signs

Unlike Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), children with ADHD are also afflicted with heightened levels of energy in the process, which unfortunately contributes to further inattentiveness and impulsivity. Children who perform worse in school and are in general more antisocial than his/her peers are more likely to have ADHD, but that does not necessarily mean they have it. For boys, hyperactivity is the most evident symptom, while girls are more likely to be strictly inattentive.

Difficulty with basic organizational and listening skills are telling signs that a child may be afflicted, and as these go hand in hand with a good academic performance, it is recommended that you consult teachers or a psychologist if this persists with your child. There is also the possibility that someone can suffer from adult ADHD, and this has been known to affect job performance, punctuality, driving quality, and even in some rare cases, marriage.

Causes

The causes of ADHD are still up for debate. Some have attributed ADHD to hereditary reasons, and in some cases the prevalence of the disorder in other family members is as high as 35%. It is difficult to prove if it is genetic or not but studies examining children with adopted parents were still more likely to adopt a similar level of hyperactivity as their parents.

One common misconception is that ineffective parenting necessarily causes ADHD. While it does cause a litany of other issues, increased hyperactivity and distractedness are usually not the cause of bad parenting. However, studies have shown that exposure to substances like alcohol and nicotine at a young age can magnify and even cause the disorder. Severe brain trauma from injury or illness is also known to have caused the disorder, though this very rarely is the primary cause of it.

Management

Although many cases do not go noticed until long after elementary school, there are certain methods that doctors, teachers and parents can use to diagnose children. The American Federal Government has in fact enforced mandatory testing upon youth suspected to have a mental disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and this applies to youth up to the age of 21.

If tests are inconclusive but it is still suspected, parents or guardians can send the children to a child psychologist for further diagnosis.

There is controversial but widely-used medication that that apparently improves concentration and lower hyperactivity. Ritalin, Concerta and Focalin are all stimulants that energize the mind without distracting it, but overuse has been attributed to heart problems.

Another option is psychological treatment, which in a very basic sense is just a program of mental stability involving a higher focus towards organization and routine. Psychologists will advise the parents to schedule the children’s lives more stringently while enforcing more pressing priorities. One eventual symptom of adult ADHD is prioritization issues, and this will evidently have greater repercussions when they have more responsibility.

Prognosis

Fortunately, ADHD often calms with age, as successful management techniques become employed out of necessity. Some celebrities and professional athletes have in fact gone on to use their coping mechanisms as fuel to improve beyond the average person. Again, ADHD in adulthood is less common but still possible, but unless nothing is done to manage it, it is rare that it will worsen. Some have argued that simply living a healthier lifestyle will bring about long-term improvements, though many are skeptical about it indefinitely receding.

 

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