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Take Your Pills And Go To Therapy! Children With Adhd

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Take Your Pills and Go to Therapy!

For a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), every day is a struggle. For the parents and teachers of children with ADHD, every day is beyond a struggle; it is a nightmare. Every year, millions of parents have to face the reality that their child has this overwhelming disorder. Dealing with the child's symptoms along with constant complaints and criticisms of their parenting techniques can become emotionally distressing. The fact that their child can not lead a normal academic and social life begs for an answer to this questionable disorder. However, within the answer to this disorder lies the controversy. Should one avoid the affects of medications and use therapy? Forget spending time on therapy; aren't medications the answer? Are there any other treatments? There is not one definite answer for all ADHD sufferers. However, in most cases, a combination of therapy and medications is the best treatment for ADHD. There are exceptions and factors to consider, but overall, a treatment involving medications and regular therapy is an ADHD child's best bet for living their life without the every day struggles of the disorder.

To truly understand Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, one must interact and spend time with a child who has the disorder. Consider the case study of Tommy, a second grader diagnosed with ADHD. By the third day of school, the school psychologist was called upon to observe his behaviors:

Tommy was singing and making loud noises throughout lessons. He crawled on the floor during transitions, and sometimes even during class. As he laughed and shoved his way through the class to line up, he injured other children. He was playful and destructive at the same time. Instead of picking up blocks when it was time to clean up, he would scatter them wildly with flailing arms and a big grin. Just when a bucket was filled with blocks, Tommy would dump it (Fachin 2-4).

He would also, "...step on other children as we sat on the rug, make intermittent loud noises, call out to other children, fall out of his chair on purpose, and get up from his desk during lessons" (3). Tommy displayed many symptoms of ADHD.

What constitutes actually having ADHD? It is more than a common attention problem, which is seen in up to a quarter of the general population (Kennedy et al, 6). ADHD is an actual classified disorder with specific criteria.

According to the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the many symptoms can be grouped into three categories; inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Symptoms of inattention include not listening to others, trouble with organizing, following instructions, and completing tasks, losing things frequently, being easily distracted, and being forgetful. Hyperactive symptoms include fidgeting, squirming, restlessness, leaving at inappropriate times, and difficulty engaging in quiet activities. Symptoms of impulsivity are responding while others are talking and difficulty waiting his or her turn. In general, children with ADHD do poorly in school, act intrusive and irritable, want to play by their own rules, are temperamental, and sometimes get violent. As a result of all these symptoms, they have poor relationships with other students (Abnormal Psych.). To be diagnosed with ADHD, the child's symptoms that impaired his or her daily life should have been evident before the age of seven. S/he must have had six of the inattention symptoms as well as six hyperactive-impulsive symptoms that have persisted for at least six months. The symptoms must be present in two or more settings, like school and home. Overall, there must be clear evidence of significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning (Resnick, 52). The criteria for teenager and adult ADHD are the same, except the symptoms deal with more age group appropriate situations. To actually diagnose a child with ADHD, the physician must run the child through a variety of tests and the child must also be observed by a psychologist. There are no definite tests to diagnose the child with ADHD, but if physicians and psychologists follow the criteria correctly, their diagnosis is almost always accurate. However, problems in diagnosing ADHD children have let to multiple problems in the U.S, which will be discussed later.

Statistics show that ADHD affects 5% of school age children in the U.S. and approximately 2% teenagers and adults (Villegas et al, 4). Boys are three times more likely to be affected than girls. Unfortunately, 45 to 60% of those who have ADHD develop conduct disorder, abuse drugs, or become juvenile delinquents. Also 20 to 25% of ADHD children have learning disabilities (Abnormal Psych.). This disorder clearly affects daily life of these children. What can be done to treat it? Before going into treatments, it is essential to understand how ADHD develops.

ADHD is primarily a biologically based disorder. According to Abnormal Psychology, the biological contributors include immaturity of the brain and genetic predisposition. ADHD children are neurologically immature and their brains are slow in maturing. The specific parts of their brain that are slow are the frontal lobes, caudate nucleus, and the corpus callosum, which are in charge of keeping attention, decision making, and the regulation of impulses. The brain also supplies low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine (440). ADHD also has a genetic predisposition and runs in families. According to Livingston, a study done on identical twins showed that when one twin is diagnosed with ADHD, the other twin has a 51% chance of being diagnosed as well, while the concordance rate among fraternal twins is 33%. Livingston states that these studies suggest, "The relationship runs more strongly in genetic families...there is a genetic contribution to whatever is going on in ADHD" (2).

Besides biological factors, some triggers of ADHD are psychological and social, such as family upbringing. Children with ADHD are more likely to come from families with divorce, hostility and conflict with parents, or antisocial/criminal fathers (Abnormal Psych, 440). Knowing about ADHD's etiology is necessary in treating the disorder.

The main treatments of ADHD are medications and therapies. Because ADHD is largely a biological disorder, medications that deal with functions of the brain have been proven to reduce symptoms and in many cases have made dramatic affects. Russell Barkeley, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts stated, "...Research shows ADHD to be largely an inherited disorder with substantial neurological



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