Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a well-known neuro-cognitive disorder. ADHD is a common developmental disorder, and generally manifests itself during childhood. ADHD is characterized by a child's inability to focus for long periods of time, recklessness and motor restlessness.

ADHD inhibits the development of children affected by the disorder and disrupts their normal function. Their difficulties functioning are blatant in many aspects of the child's life – academically, behaviorally and socially. The disorder is so common, that most people are acquainted with a child who suffers from it.

In the United States, more than 30% of children suffering from ADHD are involved in thefts and more than 25% of children with ADHD are expelled from school due to behavioral problems. These children are four times more likely to be involved in car accidents.

What causes ADHD?
ADHD has been classified as a hereditary neurological disorder. Usually, more than one family member is diagnosed with the disorder. In the past decade there has been a 'breakthrough' understanding the neurobiological basis of the disorder. The cause of the disorder is a neurological impairment which causes a disruption in the nervous system of the prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia and the cerebellum. The disorder has a genetic basis. In order to prove this connection, researchers used medical imaging techniques that were not available in the past, which indicated neurological differences between ADHD patients and people who do not suffer from ADHD.

Despite the genetic basis, there is no one clear etiology that causes ADHD. The common trend among all new studies is that each study contributes more to the understanding of the disorder and the fact that impairment of neurotransmitters (particularly dopamine) is at the source of the disorder.

The attentions system of the human brain operates through a network of nerves and includes a number of different anatomical regions, each carrying out a different role. Due to the large number of regions involved in attention, children suffering from ADHD exhibit a whole range of symptoms. Many children diagnosed with ADHD also have learning disabilities, trouble with sensory and motor skills, mood swings and behavioral problems. From a young age, many children suffering from ADHD will be marked as not fulfilling their potential. Many children are tested later on, after they suffer from low self-esteem, lack of academic success, social problems and behavioral problems.

Why Should My Get Child Tested?
People may tell the parents not to worry. Others may see ADHD as an excuse for a lazy parent. Some claim that the kid will ‘get over it’. These comments, opinions and ideas are wrong and can hurt the family. A child who goes undiagnosed (and untreated) suffers from repeated failures and frustration. Half of these children do not develop normal social relationships. The low functioning has long-term ramifications emotionally, socially and behaviorally, affecting the child’s self-esteem. If left untreated, these impairments can harm the child (and his family) in the long-term. Most adults who suffered from ADHD and did not get treated have reported the prevalence of feelings of frustration, missing out, anger and depression throughout their lives.

In order to help your child’s future, make sure the treatment and management methods are suitable for your child and the family.

How do I get my child tested?
There are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration when testing your child. The child needs to undergo a comprehensive neurological exam. Many children need additional testing as well. The diagnosis is based on the neuro-developmental exam, medical history, and evaluations filled out by the parents and teachers.

The criteria are based on guidelines set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). At the end of the first stage, the doctor will determine if there is a need for further diagnostic measures which can include medical tests (EEG, imaging, metabolic testing), didactic diagnoses or psychological tests.

The diagnostic process reflects a number of components – emotional, social, behavioral and academic. Not all children need all the available exams.

ADHD treatment is a combination of academic treatment (didactic), psychological treatment and medications (depending on the child). Not every child needs all available treatments – each treatment is tailored to fit the specific needs of the child, to help them develop skills and overcome the difficulties of ADHD.