What is ADHD?
by Dr Wilson Wayne Grant, MD
The Way They Are
Children may have difficulty with learning and behavior for many reasons. However, the most common reason for children to underachieve and have difficult behavior is the presence of the developmental condition called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.
Children with ADHD demonstrate varying degrees of short attention span, impulsiveness, disorganization, and physical hyperactivity. These behaviors can interfere with the child’s academic achievement as well as his or her social adjustment.
Three primary developmental patterns define ADHD (or ADD). These are:
Disordered Attention Control
Disordered Impulse Control
Disordered Activity Control
A Common Thread
Common to all of these disruptive symptoms is a lack of organization and control. It is as if a traffic light at a very busy intersection has gone awry, jumbling the traffic into bizarre and disorganized patterns. In fact, something like this is what is happening in the mind of the child with ADHD
Underlying the inadequate control of activity, attention, and impulse is a dysfunction of the interior of the brain resulting in decreased mental organization. That part of the brain responsible for organizing, sequencing, and controlling mental activity is simply not working on a level appropriate for the child’s age. This underlying disorganization leads to a general inefficient approach to tasks. It is important to note that these difficulties have a physical basis; they are not simply the result of an emotional adjustment problem.
All children with ADHD are not the same. Some have only focus problems but little problem with hyperactivity or impulsiveness. Others draw attention to themselves right away because of their high level of activity. All involved children do not experience the same problems when confronted with a task, but any given child will likely demonstrate some combination of the following difficulties:
short attention span,
slow reaction time,
delayed motor speed,
difficulty in interpreting and responding to cues from other
people and the environment
slower response to reinforcement (i.e., discipline),
rapid mood changes with poor control of feelings,
poor self monitoring (they are not able to stop, look, listen or to anticipate
the consequences of their actions),
difficulty in sequencing: putting tasks, things, numbers, letters, etc., in order.
What Can I Do To Help?
Much Can Be Done
Can anything be done to help my child?
This is the question of most concern to parents. It is certainly the most important question. Fortunately, ADHD is not a desperate or hopeless situation. Much can be done to help the child function in a more healthy way at home and at school.
If you and or your child’s teacher have concerns regarding ADHD, the first step is to consult with your child’s pediatrician. A preliminary assessment can be made and a plan for evaluation and treatment can be made.
For further information on the diagnosis and management of ADHD, go to Dr. Grant’s website at http://adhdstrategiesunlimited.com/.