ADHD / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

It is estimated that from 3 to 10 percent of the population has a condition known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This disorder is thought to affect between 3 and 5% of the school age population. In general ADHD is estimated to be 3 or 4 times more common in boys. For some the condition improves as they grow older and reach puberty but for others the condition, if untreated, continues to impair their adult life.

Symptoms of ADHD

In Infants

  • extreme restlessness, crying, poor sleep patterns
  • difficult to feed
  • constant thirst
  • frequent tantrums, head banging and rocking the cot

In older children

  • poor concentration and short attention span
  • hyper-activity
  • spontaneous behavior
  • takes undue risks and are not afraid of consequences
  • lack of co-ordination
  • inadequate short term memory
  • stubbornness
  • lacks self esteem
  • sleep and appetite problems
  • normal or high IQ but often under-perform at school

Not all infants and children with ADHD have all the features of the condition and there are different degrees of severity. There is no formal test to diagnose ADHD, so the collection of information, observations and evaluations from parents, teachers, physicians, mental-health professionals and the child is vital.

Part of a child's treatment may mean parenting and teaching styles. Performance evaluation should be adapted to assist the child in compensating for weaknesses. Selective use of medication therapy is another avenue of treatment. Expectations, limitations and potential side effects of the specific medication should be presented. Remember, medication will not cause miracles and completely cure this disorder.

Research shows that some children with ADD/ADHD will eventually improve their ability to pay attention and concentrate whether they receive treatment or not. Their ability for self-control also improves and often children will require less medication as they get older. This may mean that the brain gradually is able to produce more of the needed neurotransmitters on its own without the help of medicine. However, there is some difficulty with academic achievement as well since in higher grades children are required to possess better skills of organization and planning which they don’t have. It is not possible to predict how a child’s Attention Deficit Disorder will progress, it is important that children who have difficulties with attention, concentration and impulse control, receive early intervention.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,