Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects approximately 8% – 10% of school aged children. In laymen’s terms, people who have ADHD do not make enough chemicals in key areas in the brain that are responsible for organizing thought. Without enough of these chemicals, the organizing centers of the brain don’t work well.
ADHD is caused by neurobiological differences in the brain and the way it functions. In laymen’s terms, children who have ADHD do not make enough chemicals in key areas in the brain that are responsible for organizing thought. Without enough of these chemicals, the organizing centers of the brain don’t work well.
Doctors do know that ADHD is caused by changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters (pronounced: nur-oh-trans-mih-terz). These chemicals help send messages between nerve cells in the brain. The neurotransmitter dopamine (pronounced: doe-puh-meen) stimulates the brain’s attention centers. So, a person with low amounts of this chemical may show symptoms of ADHD.
Experts have also found that certain areas of the brain are about 5% to 10% smaller in size and activity in children with ADHD. Also, in diagnosed people, certain traits such as impulse control significantly lag in development when compared to the general population. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), it has been estimated that children with ADHD can be between 3 to 5 years behind their peers. Consequently, these delayed attributes are considered an impairment.
Although symptoms may be seen in toddlers, this condition becomes apparent in most children in the early school years, such as preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. It is hard for these children to control their behavior and/or pay attention. The hard part is that the symptoms described below are common in all children.
The key is that the symptoms are apparent in more than one environment, for at least six months. This means that if your child is attentive at home, but not able to sit still or focus at school, there is may be another issue, other than ADHD, at hand.
Some people call it ADD, for Attention Deficit Disorder. Others call it ADHD for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And in Europe it is sometimes referred to as ADS, Attention Deficit Syndrome. ADD is the older term, and in 1994 it was officially changed to ADHD. Some still refer to the Inattentive type of ADHD as simply ADD and the hyperactive type as ADHD. Either terminology is correct, but don’t be surprised if asked to clarify your definition if you use ADD as opposed to ADHD.
In 1994, ADHD was broken down into three subtypes, each with its own pattern of behaviors:
1. Inattentive type:
-Inability to pay attention to details or a tendency to make careless errors in schoolwork or other activities
-Difficulty with sustained attention in tasks or play activities
-Apparent listening problems
-Difficulty following instructions
-Problems with organization
-Avoidance or dislike of tasks that require mental effort
-Tendency to lose things like toys, notebooks, or homework
-Forgetfulness in daily activities
— Most common in girls
2. Hyperactive-impulsive type:
-Fidgeting or squirming
-Difficulty remaining seated
-Excessive running or climbing
-Difficulty playing quietly
-Always seeming to be “on the go”
-Blurting out answers before hearing the full question
-Difficulty waiting for a turn or in line
-Problems with interrupting or intruding
3. Combined type, which as the name says, is a combination of the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive types
-This is the most common type
1. Barkley, Russell A. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Nature, Course, Outcomes, and Comorbidity. ContinuinedEdCourse.Net.