Pablo is five years old and has just started Kindergarten. He's in a classroom full of other children ages five and six. It's time to sit and draw a picture of mom.
Pablo picks up a red crayon, scribbles on the paper in front of him, then gets out of his chair and walks around the classroom until he finds toys to play with on the rug. As you can tell, his attention did not last long. He probably felt the urge to move and has trouble sitting, so he decided to leave his seat. Coloring may not be an enjoyable activity to him, so he went and found some toys rather than doing his assignment. These are examples of just a few of the behaviors that an individual with ADHD may exhibit.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that causes impulsivity, over-activity, inattentiveness or a combination. It is the behavioral disorder of childhood that is most commonly diagnosed. It usually becomes evident before the age of seven, and it affects more boys than girls and about 3-5% of school-aged children. Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, however studies suggest that genetics, environmental factors or a combination of both may play a role.
Some symptoms of ADHD are impulsiveness, hyperactivity and lack of attention. Impulsiveness is categorized by difficulty waiting for a turn or interrupting others while they are speaking. Examples of hyperactivity are when a child talks non-stop, has trouble staying seated or fidgets with objects or hands. When a child has a difficulty paying attention, does not listen when spoken to and is easily distracted, it is evident that the child lacks attention. All of these things affect school performance, friendships and home life. Children with ADHD often struggle in classroom settings because they are expected to do things like sit still, pay attention and wait their turn. They also struggle with completing non-preferred tasks or activities. They may have trouble following rules in social situations as well such as playing with other children on the playground or at the park, which can make it tough to form friendships. Home life is hit hard because it affects more than just the individual with ADHD. The entire family is affected. Siblings sometimes lack the attention they need because parents are busy dealing with behaviors. Dealing with ADHD can also take a toll on marriages.
There are some things that have been mistaken for ADHD such as depression, lack of sleep, learning disabilities, behavior problems or tic disorders. These behaviors may also occur in conjunction with ADHD. It's a long-term chronic condition, but it's manageable with treatment. A combination of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy and social skills with intervention preferably beginning as early as possible will help individuals, like five-year-old Pablo, struggling with ADHD learn to control behaviors in social and classroom settings as well as at home with the family.
www.cdc.gov (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (PubMed Health)