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Essay/Term paper: Adhd

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Research Papers

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" ADHD, a disorder beginning in childhood, characterized by a persistent inability to sit

still, focus attention on specific tasks, and control impulses," contributed by Michael Woods to

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most

common mental disorders of childhood. Many children grow out of ADHD by adolescent or

adult years, but many do not. Studies show ADHD in adulthood is more severe and may cause

long term effects.

Diagnosing ADHD is very difficult, because most children are inattentive, hyperactive, and

impulsive at least some of the time. When diagnosing there is no blood test, or written test to

determine if ADHD is present. All there is are guidelines and an educated guess. The guidelines

include, " A disturbance of at least six months during which at least eight of the following are


1. often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

2. has difficulty remaining seated when required to do so

3. is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

4. has difficulty awaiting turn in games or group situations

5. often blurts out answers to questions before they have been completed

6. has difficulty following through on instructions from others

7. has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities

8. often shifts from one uncompleted activity to another

9. has difficulty playing quietly

10. often talks excessively

11. often does not seem to listen to what is being said to him or her

13. often loses things necessary for tasks or activities at school or at home ( e.g.. pencils )

14. often engages in physically dangerous activities without considering possible

consequences ( not for thrill seeking purposes ) e.g.. runs into the street without looking

The above items are listed in descending order of discriminating power based on data from

national field trial of the DSM-III-R criteria for Disruptive Behavior Disorders," contributed Sam

& Michael Goldstein to Managing Attention Disorders in Children page11. In order to diagnose

ADHD, these symptoms must occur more frequent than children of the same age and must occur

in more than one sitting.

90% of ADHD patients take Ritalin, a mild central nervous system stimulant believed to

calm hyperactivity by helping the brain disregard distracting stimuli, " ADHD has been estimated

to affect 3% to 5% of school-age children nation wide, with less than 3% actually receiving

medication," said Gretchen LeFever, a pediatric psychologist, on an Internet column. Gretchen

LeFever"s research found that 8% to 10% of children in second through fifth grades routinely

took ADHD medication in school during 1995-1996 school year. LeFever also conducted

another study which she examined records of student enrolled in the second through fifth grade

once again, but she chose two specific cities this time, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach. She chose

these two cities, because they are the most diverse cities in Virginia, Portsmouth is a small, urban,

poor, mostly black district, while Virginia Beach, Virginia is a larger, more wealthy, and mostly

white district. LeFever and her researchers found that ADHD medication was used three times as

many boys as with girls and twice as many whites as blacks. The researchers also found that the

use of medication increased as the children aged. By fifth grade, 19% to 20% of white boys

received ADHD medication.

Scientists do not know what causes ADHD, however, they have discredited many theories

that ADHD was a result from minor head injuries or undetectable brain damage due to infections

or complications during birth. Another theory blamed the consumption of refined sugar and food

additives, a study was done and it showed that very few ADHD children benefited from a special

diet. Another theory junked was the theory of bad parenting or a dysfunctional home life.

" Controversy exists over the diagnosis of ADHD. Physicians in the United States

diagnose the disorder more often than doctors elsewhere in the world," contributed Michael

Woods to Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. Researchers examined about 30,000 grade-school

children in two districts in southeastern Virginia and found that pupils took drugs for ADHD in

school at two to three times the expected rate, according to the study in the American Journal of

Public Health. "It"s hard to believe this many children have the specific brain-related problem

called ADHD," said Dr. Louis H. McCormick, a faculty member in the family medicine

department at Louisiana State University medical school. He said that his study confirmed that

his suspicion that kids are being overdiagnosed.

"Although there is no cure for ADHD, a variety of treatments may help children with this

disorder. These include medication, counseling, social skills training, and other methods. Drugs

are the most common treatment for ADHD and can help reduce symptoms of the disorder.

Physicians usually prescribe one of three drugs: methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine

(Dexedrine or DextroStat), and pemoline (Cylert). These drugs are normally stimulants, yet they

ease hyperactivity and other symptoms in 90% of children with ADHD. The drugs work by

altering levels of neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that transmit nerve signals. A newer

stimulant used to treat ADHD, Aderall, combines dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Medical

experts regard stimulants as safe. The most common side effects include stomachaches, loss of

appetite, nervousness, and insomnia. Drug therapy may slow a child"s rate of growth temporarily,

but growth usually returns to normal during adolescence. Low doses of stimulants do not cause a

"high" sensation, sedate the child, or cause addiction. Experts often recommend that children

take medication only during school, with medication breaks on weekends and holidays to reduce

unwanted side effects," contributed by Michael Woods, to Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia.

"Most children with ADHD need more than medication. Drugs only relieve symptoms of

ADHD, which usually return when medication is discontinued. Although drugs help a child to

concentrate and complete schoolwork, they cannot increase a child"s knowledge, teach academic

skills, or directly alter underlying learning disorders or other problems," contributed Michael

Woods to Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia.

There are many ways to treat ADHD without medication, there are several kinds of

therapy, to help not only the patient, but the family too. Therapy helps the patient deal with the

negative feelings that result form their symptoms. Social skills training can help them recognize

how their behavior affects other people and help them develop more appropriate behavior.

Because children with ADHD often cause family turmoil, parents and other family members may

benefit from therapy or support groups in which other parents share their experiences. Parental

skills training can teach parents to mange a child"s behavior with praise and other rewards, and

with penalties such as " time-outs" in which a child must sit alone to calm down.

Most scientists think of ADHD as a biological disorder caused by abnormalities in the

brain that control attention span and limit impulsive behavior are less active. "Brain structures are

affected in ADHD use dopamine to communicate with one another. Genetic studies suggest that

people with ADHD might have alterations in genes encoding either thD4 dopamine receptor,

which receives incoming signals, or the dopamine transportor, which scavenges release dopamine

for reuse," from Genes to Behavior ADHD. Also ADHD seems to run in the families, one third

of fathers who had ADHD in childhood, have children with ADHD. Studies also show that a

mother who smokes while pregnant, has a child who has ADHD, and that most children with

ADHD are left handed, and are highly intelligent.

A woman that was interviewed in a 1999 research study said that a child with ADHD is

like a "devil child." Gwendolyn Corley, a mother of four who has a son with ADHD said that her

son is like four children in one. Gwen"s son, Matthew has many problems, he is dyslexic, and has

a major attitude. He also has no patients at all, so Gwen says. She said her son can never sit still,

his hands must also always be moving, and everything is done in a rush. Gwen told the reporter

of an incident in the summer, her son took apart the lawnmower, because he was bored, and put it

back together, with parts to spare, and the mower still ran. She also stated that he was cleaning

out his fish tank, and ended up dropping it on his leg, he had to be rushed to the hospital for

stitches, because he was in a rush and didn"t pay attention to what he was doing and was very

negligent. Gwen told us that her son has just recently finished probation for an incident she rather

not talk about and that he is no longer allowed to attend public school, he goes to an alternative

school and is currently on Ritalin to try to help his behavior. Gwen said that she believes there is

no hope for her son.

"ADHD, a disorder beginning in childhood characterized by a persistent inability to sit

still, focus attention on specific tasks, and control impulses," contributed by Michael Woods, to

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. ADHD is one of the most common childhood mental illness, it

is very hard to diagnose and is very frustrating for an ADHD parent. ADHD is usually controlled

by Ritalin, a mild nervous system stimulant. Due to the fact that there is no true way to determine

ADHD, it is often a misdiagnosis of a child acting like a child.

Works Cited

"ADD," What causes ADD?, 1997, Netscape Navigator 22 November



"ADD/ADHD," Diagnosing ADHD/ADD in Children 1999, Netscape Nvigator

22 November 1999.



"ADHD Medications," Are Medicines OK for My Child? 1998, Netscape

Navigator 22 November 1999,


Corley, Gwendolyn, interview, December 9,1999

Flick, Grad L. Ph.D ADD/ADHD Behavior-Change Resource Kit West

Nyack, New York: 1998

Glodstein, Sam and Michael, Managing Attention Disorders in Children.

Canada: 1990 John Wiley and Sons Inc. 

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