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What is Attention Deficit Disorder?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) occurs in 3 to 5% of children. It is characterized by inattentiveness, restlessness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These symptoms are disruptive and create social and/or environmental problems for the child. This disorder is much more common in boys than girls. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has been defined as developmentally inappropriate impulsivity and inattention with or without hyperactivity. Symptoms begin before the age of 7. It includes the following symptoms: The child

  • Often fidgets with hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • Has difficulty remaining seated when required.
  • Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
  • Has difficulty waiting for a turn.
  • Often blurts out answers to questions before completed.
  • Has difficulty following through instructions from others.
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
  • Has difficulty playing quietly.
  • Often shifts from one incomplete activity to another.
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Often interrupts others.
  • Often does not seem to listen to what is being said.
  • Often loses things such as homework or items needed for tests or activities at school or home.
  • At times engages in physically dangerous activities without considering the consequences.

Other features may include the following:

  • Peer relationship problems.
  • Ability to attend to interesting or reinforcing activities that are chosen by the child, such as television.
  • Responsiveness to immediate tangible reinforcement.
  • Negative interaction/relationships with authority figures.
  • Sleep disturbance.
  • Physical problems including higher injury risk and motor coordination problems.
  • Aggressive and/or antisocial behavior.

Treatment

With the appropriate treatment, ADHD children can function with much less, possibly even no, hyperactivity, distractibility or impulsivity. Treatment approaches include:

  • School consultation to improve management of academic challenges
  • Behavior modification programs
  • Medication
  • Social skills training groups
  • Parent coaching
  • Tutoring
  • Psychotherapy

The most effective comprehensive treatment program combines medication with additional structure in the academic and home environments.