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Add & Adhd

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The Existence of ADD/ADHD

Some of the most common words moving around in the psychiatric circle are attention Deficit; hyperactivity; Ritalin; ADD, ADHD. These words are being most commonly discussed by most educators, physicians, psychologists and young parents in the society today. In spite of extensive advancements in technology which has brought new insights into the brain and learning, there is still a lacuna in the field of problems faced by children who are unable to remain focused on the task given to them in the classroom owing to their inability to pay attention.

While the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association) put forth a list of behaviors which predominantly fall in the category of ADD and/or ADHD, many researchers still maintain that there is no set way to diagnosis or develop a treatment program to these disorders which will be guaranteed to work. At the same time there are another set of researchers who maintain that these disorders actually do not exist at all. However, in the real world, parents and educators still continue to struggle with the task of coping with children who are hyperactive and who have very low attention span and whose behavior often interferes with schooling and family life. [Armstrong, 1997]

During the recent years, words like attention deficit, hyperactivity, ADD etc. have been quite frequently used among various psychiatric and educational institutes. These words have been making its rounds among most educators, physicians, psychologists and young parents in the society nowadays. A few decades ago people were oblivious of these terms or only a few people had heard these terminologies and had experienced children in a class or any other related place behaving in abnormal ways which included fidgeting, restlessness or having very low attention span.

It needs to be analyzed what is the root cause of this problem and what in the last few years has caused Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit hyperactivity disorder to rapidly become one of the most frequently observed disorder among children. Children are being observed at homes, schools and various vantage points to check whether they are suffering from such a disorder. Awareness is also increasing about the disorder in order to assist the children and their family members in such way that its prevalence can be observed and prevention can occur.

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are two types of psychiatric disorders applied to children as well as adults who time and again display certain distinctive characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common behavioral indications are that of distractibility or very low attention span to a particular task; impulsivity or in some cases hyperactivity which are shown through excessive activity as well as physical restlessness.

According to the 1994 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association, the primary behaviors symptomatic of ADHD include persistent difficulty sustaining attention and concentration, inappropriate activity levels, impulsivity and distractibility.

Those suffering from ADHD exhibited over a period of six months, six of nine behavior patterns indicative of problems sustaining attention, organizing around tasks, remembering and completing assignments or six of nine behaviors indicative of difficulties sitting still, being quiet and waiting patiently before responding. [Divoky, Schrag. 1975]. These behaviors appear in at least two different settings (such as at home, in school, in peer group activity), and are usually present in children before the age of 7, and is considered disruptive to normal function.

Conservative estimate indicate that a percentage of school aged children whose behavior places them in this category is between 3 - 5 percent. At the same time, adults are also being diagnosed with ADHD in ever increasing numbers, as are preschool children. The number is increasing at a tremendous pace in the society as there continues to be emphasis on activities that demand ever decreasing levels of movement in preschool, school, work and home. This gives rise to one of the most central controversies related to ADHD on whether this disorder actually exists or merely a natural enthusiasm of creative children and a normal expression of the human need to move?

National experts across the globe are questioning the validity of the diagnosis of ADHD. They feel that even in extreme cases, the traits associated with ADHD do not lead to it being diagnosed as a disorder without the existence presence of other factors. Some of these factors are environmental, while some traits associated with ADHD are probably very beneficial in certain settings. The controversy in the diagnosis of this disorder is owing to the process being brief, ambiguous questionnaires with a small number of items that parents and teachers rate as occurring frequently among the children.

It is indicative through several data that approximately 4% to 6% of the US population suffers from ADHD. This disorder is not only restricted to children but usually persists throughout a person's lifetime. As much as one-half to two-thirds of children who have this problem continue to have it even in their adulthood which usually affects their job, their family as well as their social life. [Griss, 1998]

The DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) indicate some common symptoms of ADHD which include lack of giving attention to details or tendency to make a lot of careless mistakes; not able to concentrate on a particular thing or task for long; not listening to someone talking to him/her; unable to follow instructions carefully or correctly; unable to remember important things; always feeling restless and wanting to do some physical activity all the time; talking excessively and not able to wait for his/her turn and wanting to finish things then and there. [Kohn, 1989] Some people might show indications of all the above symptoms whereas others might show few or more than these. The exact nature and severity of the disorder usually varies from person to person.

Research shows that ADD and ADHD is not caused by reasons like family problems, school or teacher problems, too much of TV viewing or diet. However, the exact cause of the problem is yet unknown. Some researchers claim that it is caused due to minor head injuries or damage to the brain which again is not proven as a huge majority of people with these symptoms has never had any kind of head or brain injury. Another section of researchers claim



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