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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Abstract

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a serious medical condition that may have a mild or severe effect on the affected person’s mental abilities. The consequences of the problem are of different nature and include a poor academic performance, delayed/poor speaking, criminality, abuse of drugs, restlessness, impatience, forgetfulness, loss of focus during work, low understanding, inadequate social and poor listening skills among others. All this leads to the lack of proper reasoning, self-control, and attentiveness. The condition is congenital, but environmental factors also play a role in the development and deterioration of the problem. However, the issue arises at the age of 6-12 years and thus may be hard to diagnose in infants. On the other hand, it is not possible for a person above 12 years of age to develop the problem. Parents as well as the society might mistakenly treat the problem as a deviant behavior in children; therefore, they might end up reprimanding the affected kids as opposed to facilitating their treatment or therapy. In this regard, comprehensive research as well as awareness of the issue should be considered. This paper discusses some facts about ADHD by finding a proper definition, presenting the statistics of the affected people, determining other associated disorders, the signs, symptoms, and causes of the condition, its management as well as the debate surrounding the problem.

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Background

Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder refers to the defective development of brain/central nervous system that leads to complications in an individual’s cognitive control. This condition affects task flexibility, problem-solving skills, reasoning, and working memory as well as triggers impulsivity that is not not common for the affected person’s age (Malenka, Nestler, & Hyman 2009). The symptoms are noticed between the age of 6 and 12, and it takes up to 6 months to make a proper diagnosis (Dulcan & Lake, 2011). The problem lowers class performance and, thus, inhibits the academic abilities of the affected person. The disorder is widely studied but the real cause remains a mystery yet it affects a large number of individuals globally.

The DMS-IV subtype is said to affect 6-7% of children while ICD-10 affects 1-2% (Cowen, Harrison, & Burns, 2012). There are more cases of the disorder among boys than girls, and almost half of the recorded cases persist till the adulthood thus affecting all age groups (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Due to the ignorance of the matters related to the disorder, it is mistakenly viewed by parents, teachers, and the society at large as a deviant behavior in children. Therefore, many of the affected young people tend to be reprimanded and punished for no good reason instead of being offered the necessary medical/therapeutic support in order to overcome the problem. However, punishment tends to worsen the situation by making the affected children aggressive and temperamental as well as making it hard for them to maintain relationships with other people. The case, therefore, requires a comprehensive study and high awareness so as to enlighten the society and make everybody understand the situation as well as address the plight of the affected people.

The problem is universal since it is spread all over the world but is tackled differently in each country. The approaches used involve medication, counseling, as well as lifestyle change therapies. In Britain, treatment is recommended as the initial response to the severe cases or those that persist even after counseling (National Collaboration Center for Mental Health, 2009). On the other hand, in America and Canada, therapy and medication are preferred as an initial response except for children under the school-going age. The reaction to the issue, however, creates controversy as the stakeholders involved continue to disagree on the suitable methods.

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Disorders Associated with the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Learning Problems

The condition entails challenges in learning and thus poor academic performance. Many of the children suffering from the Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder are facing learning difficulties because of speech and language problems. However, the former is not a learning disability; instead, in most cases, it causes the problem.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder/Conduct Disorder

Children who suffer from the condition tend to be defiant, stubborn, aggressive, anti-social, dishonest, and temperamental. Thus, the problem makes it hard to deal with such children both at school and home. The problem inhibits social skills of the child even in the adult age.

Sleep Disorders

The Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder is mainly accompanied by sleep disorder; however, the latter can also be caused by medication of the former. Children do not sleep with ease: they tend to stay awake for a long time after retiring to bed and usually have a hard time waking up in the morning.

Primary Disorder of Vigilance

It is difficult for the affected children to pay attention to and concentrate on something and as well as stay awake. The victims, therefore, struggle hard to keep themselves alert; this may involve fidgeting, stretching, or yawning to remain alert.

Signs and Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Inattention

Inattention entails concentration problems depicted by the lack of attention, delayed speech, forgetfulness and poor understanding, boredom, lack of focus, and poor listening skills (Dobie, 2012). However, most teachers and parents assume that the affected child is unwilling to learn or execute the assigned duties thus labeling him/her as lazy/defiant, which leads to reprimands as well as punishments.

Hyperactivity/Impulsiveness

The affected children tend to act with little or no reasoning and without considering the possible outcome of their actions (Dobie, 2012). Such individuals may not be able to prioritize because they act spontaneously. It is not easy for them to stick to one place as they tend to move around playing with anything they come across; they also speak and fidget too much.

Inner Restlessness

As the affected children grow into teenagers and adults, their impulsiveness turns into restlessness of the mind (Dobie, 2012). Such an individual becomes impatient, can hardly wait, and tends to interrupt activities or conversations. Inappropriate utterances, excessive emotions, and careless actions characterize these individuals; therefore, it is complicated for them to communicate with other people.

Causes of the Disorder

Although the problem has no clear cause, it is believed to be a result of the combination of congenital/genetic factors and the environmental/predisposing conditions (Millichap & Gordon, 2010). However, environmental factors do not play a major role in the development of the problem; they tend to worsen it when it is genetically conditioned.

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Genetics

A person acquires the disorder through inheritance from the parents which is influenced by the genes. Hereditary Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder accounts for approximately 75% of the reported cases (National Collaborating Center for Mental Health, 2009). Genetics determines both the development and persistence of the problem to the adulthood. However, not all cases proceed to the adult age; thus, the difference in family genes is significant.

Environmental/Predisposing Factors

These factors play a minor role and do not originate the problem, but instead worsen the genetically developed situation. Some of the factors include consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, smoking tobacco, exposure to lead and other chemicals such as insecticides. Low birth weight, premature births, infections during pregnancy or infancy, and brain damage resulting from external force also worsen the situation (Mayes, Bagwell, & Erkulwater, 2009). Preservatives and coloring agents used in food are known to escalate the disorder in some children (Tomaska & Brooke, 2013).

Management

The approaches to address the problem include either counseling/therapy or medication, but both can be used concurrently. The choice of the approach differs in various countries although there may be similarities in some aspects.

Behavioral Therapies

The method is suitable for mild cases or children below the school-going age. Behavioral therapies entail the practice of doing something under the supervision of a trained person so as to change or improve a habit. Some of the therapies include behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, family therapy, parent management, social skills training, and school-based intervention among others (National Collaborative Center for Mental Health, 2009). The therapies help to ameliorate the conditions associated with an individual’s psychology, for instance, criminality, depression, substance abuse, and school failure among others. Physical exercise is also useful in addressing the issue.

Medication

Medication involves stimulation that in turn entails temporal enhancement of physical or mental functions of an individual; its result is not long-lasting. However, there exist non-stimulant options including bupropion, guanfacine, atomoxetine, and clonidine. However, there is no agreement on the best alternative, because all the medications are accompanied by side effects. Nevertheless, none medical option is suitable for the children below the school-going age (National Collaborative Center for Mental Health, 2009).

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Controversy Surrounding the Disorder

Since the 1970s, a common agreement concerning the disorder, its diagnosis, and treatment has not been found yet (Parrillo, 2008). Several stakeholders that include teachers, parents, policy-makers, clinical officers as well as the media tend to disagree on the issue whereby some call it a genetic disorder and others perceive it as a normal condition (National Collaborative Center for Mental Health, 2009). Medication of children, proper treatment as well as the likelihood of a wrong diagnosis contribute to the debate among the various groups of people (Cohen, 2006).

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Conclusion

The condition affects young children with some cases persisting up to the adulthood (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Thus, the problem is a challenge to all age groups. The impacts on the affected person are either mild or severe, and the problem is associated with other disorders including learning problems, oppositional deficiency disorder, sleep disorder, and primary disorder of vigilance among others. The signs and symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity/impulsiveness, and inner restlessness in adulthood. The problem is triggered by genetics with environmental factors tending to worsen the situation. The approaches to managing the disorder comprise of counseling/therapy and medication; they are used concurrently or consecutively. However, the problem brings debate among various stakeholders, namely parents, teachers, and clinicians among others. The problem is mistakenly treated as defiance or arrogance by some of the stakeholders due to the ignorance of the situation. Thorough research is necessary so as to demystify the condition as well as ensure a proper assistance to the affected people.

Although it might be impossible to deal with the genetic causal factors, environmental aspects can be considered in various ways like encouraging pregnant mothers to keep in touch with physicians so as to control the possible occurrence of diseases during pregnancy that may affect their children. Prenatal care for children should be exercised through the avoidance of the exposure to chemicals and toxins; even after the birth, children should be taken care of to control diseases as well as avoid injuries that may interfere with their nervous system. Although the environmental factors do not play the primary role in the development of the problem, addressing the problem can prevent deterioration of the genetic condition; thus, it is a crucial step. Lastly, therapies as well as treatment should be availed to all the affected persons, but the most important thing is their acceptance in the society.

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