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ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is one of the most frequently occurring childhood psychiatric disorders. People with ADHD usually can't stay focused on a task, have trouble sitting still, and tend to act impulsively. ADHD used to be known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), but was changed to its current name in 1994.
What Are the Symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD symptoms appear over several months, often with the symptoms of impulsiveness and hyperactivity preceding those of inattention. Specific symptoms of ADHD include trouble organizing activities, fidgeting, and excessive talking. Because many normal children can have these possible symptoms, but at lower levels, it's important to get an accurate ADHD diagnosis by a healthcare professional.
What Causes ADHD?
The causes of ADHD are unclear, although many people believe that the disorder is the result of social factors or child-rearing methods. ADHD research scientists are currently developing possible theories about the causes of ADHD. Some of these theories include environmental agents, brain injury, and genetics.
How Is ADHD Diagnosed?
Diagnosing ADHD can be difficult, because many people may exhibit the principal ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. However, everyone demonstrates these behaviors at times. Therefore, making an ADHD diagnosis requires that such behavior be demonstrated to a degree that is inappropriate for the person's age.
How Is ADHD Treated?
Behavior therapy for ADHD has proven to be a beneficial part of the treatment process. Although certain medications can help a patient deal with the symptoms, it can take time to undo the frustration, blame, and anger that may have gone on for so long. Psychotherapy, social skills training, and behavioral interventions are common therapies used in treating the condition.
The ADHD medications that are the most effective in treating ADHD are a class of drugs known as stimulants. Since some patients may get better results from one ADHD medicine and some from another, it's important to work with a doctor to find the right medication and the correct dosage. It is also important to understand that these medications don't cure ADHD -- they only control the symptoms.
ADHD treatment controversies have been debated for years. Some people are concerned that children, particularly active boys, are being overdiagnosed with ADHD and are receiving psychostimulants unnecessarily. Other controversies related to treatment include safety concerns about the long-term use of stimulants.
ADHD and school can be a challenging combination for those with this condition. A successful education usually means being able to pay attention and control behavior and impulses -- key areas where patients with ADHD have trouble. There are, however, many ways that schools can help students with ADHD. For example, teachers and other faculty can assess the child's strengths and weaknesses and design an Individualized Educational Program (IEP), and frequent breaks can be provided during the day. Clear and frequent communication between parents and teachers can enhance the school experience for children with ADHD.
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