Attention Deficit Disorder 

 

Diagnosis     |     Assessment     |     Resources     |     Executive Functioning     |    Auditory Processing Disorder

We may all occasionally have difficulty sitting still, paying attention, or controlling impulsive behavior. But for some children, adolescents, and adults, the problem interferes with their daily lives at home, at school, at work, and in social settings.  If this is the case, Accommodations in school and on tests are appropriate and can be determined through testing.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobiological disorder. It is characterized by developmentally inappropriate impulsivity, inattention, and in some cases, hyperactivity. Although individuals with AD/HD can be very successful in life, without appropriate identification and treatment, AD/HD very often affects learning, relationships, and vocational success. ADHD has high correlations with:  poor self esteem, school failure, depression, oppositionality, failed relationships, and substance abuse. Early identification and treatment are extremely important. 

Until recent years, it was believed that children outgrew AD/HD in adolescence. This is because hyperactivity often diminishes during the teen years. However, it is now known that many symptoms continue into adulthood including problems with Memory and Executive Functioning. If the disorder goes undiagnosed or untreated during adulthood, individuals may have trouble at work and in relationships, as well as emotional difficulties such as anxiety and depression.  Our more advanced understanding of ADHD and Learning Disabilities has led to better definition of why ADHD has become so detrimental to success.

Symptoms of ADHD

The main features of attention deficit disorder (or ADHD) are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. But because most young children display these behaviors from time to time, it is important not to assume that every child you see with these symptoms has ADHD. However, if the symptoms continue, advice should be sought from a qualified mental health professional.

Symptoms of attention deficit disorder usually develop over several months. In general, impulsiveness and hyperactivity are observed before one notices the lack of attention, which often appears later. It also may go unnoticed because the “inattentive daydreamer” may be overlooked when the child who “can’t sit still” at school or is otherwise disruptive will be noticed. The observable symptoms of ADHD will therefore vary a great deal depending on the situation and the specific demands it makes on the child’s self-control.

Different forms of ADHD may result in the child being labeled differently. For example, an impulsive child may be labeled a “discipline problem.” A passive child may be described as “unmotivated.” But ADHD could be the cause of both behavior patterns. It may only be suspected once the child’s hyperactivity, distractibility, lack of concentration, or impulsivity start affecting school performance, friendships, or behavior at home.

The official diagnosis of ADHD includes the three major symptoms (inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness). The most recent version of the handbook for mental health professionals states that people with ADHD may have any or all of the major symptoms.

Three subtypes of ADHD are recognized by professionals:

  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type — If symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but not symptoms of inattention have been shown for at least six months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the individual’s developmental level.
  • Predominantly Inattentive Type — If symptoms of inattention but not symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been shown for at least six months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the individual’s developmental level.
  • Combined Type — If symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity have been shown for at least six months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the individual’s developmental level.

Hyperactive/Impulsive Type of ADHD

Hyperactive children always seem to be “on the go” or constantly in motion. They dash around touching or playing with whatever is in sight, or talk incessantly. Sitting still at dinner or during a school lesson or story can be difficult. They squirm and fidget in their seats or roam around the room. Or they may wiggle their feet, touch everything, or noisily tap their pencil. Hyperactive teenagers or adults may feel internally restless. They often feel the need to stay busy and may try to do several things at once.

Impulsive children seem unable to control their immediate reactions or think before they act. They will often blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without considering the consequences. They may find it hard to wait for things they want, or to take their turn in games. They may grab a toy from another child or hit out when upset. As teenagers or adults, impulsive people may choose to do things that have an instant reward instead of seeing through activities which take more effort but would lead to greater but delayed rewards.

Indicators of hyperactivity-impulsivity:

  • Feeling restless, fidgeting with hands or feet, and squirming while seated
  • Running, climbing, or leaving a seat in situations where sitting or quiet behavior is expected
  • Blurting out answers before hearing the whole question
  • Interrupting or intruding on others
  • Having difficulty waiting in line or taking turns or enjoying leisure activities quietly
  • Adolescents or adults may feel very restless, as if “driven by a motor”, and talk excessively.

 

 

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