What is ADD and ADHD?
Attention deficit disorder, now classified by the psychology community
as Attention Deficit – Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects both male
and female, adults and children. Roughly 8% or 4.4 million school age
children and 4.4% or 9 million adults are living with ADHD in the United
States. 80% of children with ADHD will continue to live with this
disorder into their adolescence and 65% into adulthood.
ADHD affects more males than females, and it can have serious
long-term effects on a child’s ability to succeed in social and academic
avenues. Children who grow up in households which are affected by
other disorders (such as bipolar disorder, depression, antisocial personality disorder, and anxiety disorders) are at higher risk for ADHD, and children with ADHD often struggle with tic disorders as well (1/2 of children with Tourrettes Disorder also have ADHD).
Emotional development in children with ADHD is 30% slower than children without ADHD – this affects decision-making skills
25% of students with ADHD have other serious learning problems
50% of all ADHD students have problems with listening comprehension
65% of children with ADHD struggle with defiance, non-compliance, verbal hostility, temper tantrums, and have problems with authority figures
33% of students with ADHD have language deficits, poor organizational skills, poor memory, and poor fine motor skills.
ADHD does not always manifest as hyperactivity
Attention Deficit – Hyperactivity Disorder is divided into two subtypes, but people can have a combined type as well (Hyperactivity/Impulsivity and Inattentive). In adults, the Predominately Inattentive Type is the more common one.
Predominately Hyperactivity/Impulsivity Type:
Primary symptoms are associated with hyperactivity and/or impulsivity, with fewer symptoms associated with attention deficit issues. 65% of boys and 60% of girls are diagnosed with this subtype.
This would include:
Inability to sit still
Acts out of turn
Engages in risky or dangerous behaviors
Predominately Inattentive Type:
Primary symptoms are associated with attention deficit issues, with fewer symptoms associated with hyperactivity / impulsivity. This type affects more adults.
This would include:
Failure to follow through on tasks
Frequent shifts of attention from topic to topic
Treatment and Care:
As with many things in life, multi-faceted approaches to treatment tend to have the greatest effect at managing and treating ADHD. Usually the first step is to become educated about the diagnosis and treatment for ADHD.
For children diagnosed with ADHD, it is important to involve their teachers, as often teachers will label ‘difficult children’ as troublemakers and sometimes dismiss them as unteachable. As ADHD often manifests in behavioral troubles, it is important for teachers to understand why and perhaps adjust their teaching styles accordingly.
Behavior management therapy is valuable as it works with parents, teachers, and the child to set up effective teaching and task management. It uniquely tailors treatment to the child. This often involves setting up incentive programs, sets clear goals, and provides consistent therapy. Behavioral treatment alone has been found to greatly reduce and sometimes eliminate ADHD symptoms.
Drug treatments tend to fall into two categories: Stimulants and non-stimulants.
Stimulants are the most common for children and adolescents. These include methylphenidate -- Ritalin, Metadate, Concerta, amphetamines, including Dexedrine, Dextrostat, and Adderall. A new drug, Vyvanse, is a type of amphetamine believed to involve less dependency than other medications.
Non-stimulants include Strattera, which affects the levels of norepinephrine in the brain, and Intuniv, which affects certain receptors in the brain, which can improve impulse control and concentration. Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, has also been found to benefit both adults and children with ADHD. Tricyclic antidepressants can be a good alternative for children who suffer from side effects from the stimulants, such as tics and insomnia.
For Adults diagnosed with ADHD, counseling, medication and lifestyle changes will all make a difference in the success of treatment.
Rarely do ADHD medications cause serious side effects, but many drugs require frequent check-ups with your health care provider to ensure that none develop.
Resources for Adults and Children with ADHD: