ADD / ADHD is a widely misunderstood disorder that affects a number of children. ADD / ADHD can occur in various forms. Numerous treatments are advised. Causes are not certain but the disorder is said to be genetic, following down the male line.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is due to one key problem: the inability to consistently regulate attention and behaviours. Children who suffer from ADD often have problems concentrating and following through on their actions. Many make the mistake of attributing the problems children experience to laziness or poor parenting. These explanations are totally false. ADD / ADHD is recognised as a fully fledged biological disorder that can be treated in a variety of ways. ADD / ADHD can also affect adults.
There are 3 basic types of ADD / ADHD:
Predominantly Inattentive Type
Those who suffer from predominantly inattentive ADD find it difficult to focus but are able to sit still. Symptoms include:
- Making careless mistakes in schoolwork
- Not appearing to listen when somebody speaks
- Being forgetful or disorganised
- Having difficulties focusing on a specific task
Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type
Those who have predominantly hyperactive ADHD, battle to control body movements or behaviours. This poses more of a problem than maintaining attention. Symptoms include:
- Not considering consequences of actions
- Speaking or acting inappropriately
- Fidgeting or feeling restless when trying to sit
- Being excessively physically or verbally active
Those who experience the combined type of ADD / ADHD have a combination of symptoms from both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive ADD / ADHD.
Symptoms of ADD / ADHD must recur for over 6 months before the possibility of ADD / ADHD can be considered. Other requirements for the possibility of ADD / ADHD to be considered include:
- Appearing before the age of 7
- Having a major impact on your life in more than one setting
- Not having another disorder that could account for the symptoms (e.g. bipolar disorder)
- Secondary symptoms of ADHD include:
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty getting along with others
- Bad time and/or money management
There is still much research to be done in the field of ADD / ADHD. Over the years, people have battled to identify the causes of ADD / ADHD. The most commonly identified cause of ADD / ADHD is genetics. ADD / ADHD research is therefore focused on identifying the genes that could be responsible for the disorder.
Brain functions are also examined by comparing the brains of ADD / ADHD sufferers and those who are healthy. Those who suffer with ADD / ADHD have problems with self regulation. Controlling impulses, maintaining attention and moods are key problems. No matter what approach researchers may face there is no doubt that ADD / ADHD has a biological basis. Symptoms may be behavioural but causes are not. Different areas of the brain and neurotransmitters seem to play a role. Chemical releases in the brain are also thought to contribute to the disorder.
Many differ when it comes to the mode of treating ADD / ADHD. Doctors suggest a 3 pronged approach to treating ADD / ADHD sufferers. Biological, psychological and social strategies are employed in treatment.
Biological treatments are the first mode of defence. Without these treatments, psychological and social treatments are less effective. Biological treatments focus on the way the brain functions and can change the way the brain functions. Treatment includes:
- Medication: Many doctors prescribe Ritalin or Dexedrine.
- Diet: Ensure that the diet of AD D / ADHDsufferers excludes food additives and colouring.
- Vitamin supplements and herbal remedies: Vitamins thought to be effective in helping ADD / ADHD sufferers include magnesium, Vitamin B and Vitamin B6.
- Repatterning therapies
- Rebalancing therapies, e.g. homeopathies, acupuncture and manipulation therapies, e.g. chiropractic and osteopathy
- Regular exercise is also highly recommended to maintain stable energy levels.
- Consulting a psychologist can help sufferers deal with the feelings that are evoked by the troubling symptoms of ADD / ADHD. Psychological tools can also help to cope with the problems you face as an ADD / ADHD sufferer. Psychological tools include:
- Psychotherapy which includes supportive therapy, play therapy, skills training, psycho-educational counselling, and parent training.
- Behaviour management which includes behaviour modification, cognitive behavioural counselling and awareness training.
- People who are affected by ADD / ADHD often find it hard to negotiate basic social settings. Social workers and therapy can help develop social skills in the following areas:
- Lifestyle choices
- Occupational skills
There has always been much debate surrounding the issue of ADD / ADHD. A recent article in Time Magazine argues that children can outgrow ADD / ADHD. Even though half the sufferers retain the disorder when they reach adulthood, the study argues that the brain is constantly developing which can alleviate ADD / ADHD symptoms.
Many also argue that doctors are too quick to prescribe Ritalin etc. for ADD / ADHD sufferers. These medications can have detrimental side effects including loss of appetite and aggression. However the drug has proven to alleviate symptoms in over 70% of ADD / ADHD sufferers. If its use is carefully monitored by a doctor, problems should be minimal.
There are various alternatives to traditional medication. Homeopathic treatment as well as behaviour therapy has proved very effective in treating ADD / ADHD. Using various methods that complement one another is generally the best approach to treating ADD / ADHD.
ADD / ADHD can only be diagnosed by a qualified doctor. If you feel your child may be suffering from ADD / ADHD, it is best to consult a medical professional. Each case is different, but through a multi-modal approach to treating ADHD, living a normal life with ADD / ADHD is more than possible.