Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD Essay Research

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Essay, Research Paper Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Imagine living in a world where sights, sounds, images and thoughts are

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Essay, Research Paper

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Imagine living in a world where sights, sounds, images and thoughts are

constantly changing and shifting. Unable to focus on whatever task is at hand,

your mind wanders from one activity or thought to the next. Sometimes you become

so lost among all the thoughts and images that you don’t even notice when

someone is speaking to you.

This is what it is like for many people who have Attention Deficit

Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Once called hyperkinesis or minimal brain

dysfunction, ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders among children. It

affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, and it is likely to occur two to three

times more in boys than in girls.

People who have ADHD may be unable to sit still, plan ahead, finish

tasks, or be completely aware of what is going on in the world around them.

However, on some occasions, they may appear “normal”, leading others to believe

that the person with ADHD can control such behaviors. As a result of this, ADHD

can hinder the person’s relationships and interactions with others in addition

to disrupting their daily life and lowering self-esteem.

To determine whether or not a person has ADHD, specialists must consider

several questions: Do these behaviors occur more often than in other people of

the same age? Are the behaviors an ongoing problem, not just a response to a

[temporary] situation? Do the behaviors occur only in one specific place or in

several different settings?

In answering these questions, the person’s behavior patterns are

compared to a set of criteria and characteristics of ADHD. The Diagnostic

Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) presents this set of criteria.

According to the DSM, there are three patterns of behavior that indicate ADHD:

inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

According to the DSM, signs of inattention include: becoming easily

distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds; failing to pay attention to details

and making careless mistakes; rarely following instructions carefully and/or

completely; and constantly losing or forgetting things like books, pencils,

tools, and such.

Some signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity, according to the DSM, are:

the inability to sit still, often fidgeting with hands and feet; running,

climbing, or leaving a seat in situations where sitting or quiet, attentive

behavior is required; difficulty waiting in line or for a turn; and blurting out

answers before hearing the entire question.

However, because almost everyone will behave in these manners at some

time, the DSM has very specific guidelines for determining if they indicate ADHD.

Such behaviors must appear early in life, before age 7, and continue for at

least 6 months. For children, these behaviors must occur more frequently and

severely than in others of the same age. Most of all, the behaviors must create

a true handicap in at least 2 areas of the person’s life (e.g. school, home,

work, social settings).

One of the difficulties in diagnosing ADHD is that it is usually

accompanied by other problems. Many children who have ADHD also have a learning

disability. This means that they have trouble with certain language or academic

skills, commonly reading and math. A very small number of people with ADHD also

have Tourette’s syndrome. Those affected by Tourette’s syndrome may have tics,

facial twitches, and other such movements that they cannot control. Also, they

may grimace, shrug, or yell out words abruptly.

Almost half of all children with ADHD, mostly boys, have another

condition known as oppositional defiant disorder. This sometimes develops into

more serious conduct disorders. Children with this disorder, in conjunction with

ADHD, may be stubborn, have outbursts, and act belligerent or defiant. They may

take unsafe risks and break laws — ultimately getting them into trouble at

school and with the police.

Still, not all children with ADHD have an additional disorder. The same

is true for people with learning disabilities, Tourette’s syndrome, etc. They do

not all have ADHD with their initial disorder. However, when ADHD and such

disorders do occur together, the problems can seriously complicate a person’s


As we speak, scientists are discovering more and more evidence

suggesting that ADHD does not stem from home environment, but from biological

causes. And over the past few decades, health professionals have come up with

possible theories about what causes ADHD. But, they continue to emphasize that

no one knows exactly what causes ADHD. There are just too many possibilities

[for now] to be certain about the exact cause. Therefore, it is more important

for the person affected [and their family] to search for ways to get the right


A common method for treating ADHD is the use of medications. Drugs known

as stimulants seem to have been the most effective with both children and adults

who have ADHD. The three which are most often prescribed are: methylphenidate

(Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine or Dextrostat), and pemoline (Cylert).

For many, these drugs dramatically reduce hyperactivity and improve their

ability to focus, work, and learn. Research done by the National Institute of

Mental Health (NIMH) also suggests that medications such as these may help

children with accompanying conduct disorders control their impulsive,

destructive behaviors.

However, these drugs don’t cure ADHD, they only temporarily control the

symptoms. Many health professionals recommend that these medications be used in

combination with some type of therapy, training, and/or support group. Such

options include: psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, social skills

training, parental skills training (for parents with ADHD children), and support


Although most people with ADHD don’t “outgrow” it, they do learn how to

adapt and live better, more fulfilling lives. With the proper combination of

medicine, family, and emotional support, people who have ADHD can develop ways

to better control their behavior.

Through further studies, scientists are better understanding the nature

of biological disorders. New research is allowing us to better understand how

our minds and bodies work, along with new medicines and treatments that continue

to be developed. Even though there is no immediate cure for ADHD, research

continues to provide information, knowledge, and hope.