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Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Approximately 3-5% of all American children have an Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). ADD is a leading cause of school failure and under-achievement. ADD characteristics often arise in early childhood. As many as 50% of children with ADD are never diagnosed. Boys significantly outnumber girls, though girls are more likely to be undiagnosed with ADD. “ADD is not an attention disorder, but a disorder of impulse control ( Seminar notes Barkeley) .

Characteristics of Attention Deficit Disorder can include : Fidgeting with hands or feet , difficulty remaining seated, awaiting turns in games, ollowing through on instructions , shifting from one uncompleted task to another, difficulty playing quietly, interrupting conversations and intruding into other children’s games, appearing to be not listening to what is being said, doing things that are dangerous without thinking about the consequences. Most scientist now believe that a brain dysfunction or abnormality in brain chemistry could be to blame for the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.

The frontal lobes of the brain are thought to be most responsible for the regulation of behavior and attention. They receive information from the lower rain, which regulated arousal and screens incoming messages from within and outside of the body. The limbic system , a group of related nervous system structures located in the midbrain and linked to emotions and feelings, also sends messages to the frontal lobes. Finally, the frontal lobes are suspected to be the site of working memory, the place where information about the immediate environment is considered for memory storage, planning, and future-directed behavior.

Scientist believe the activity in the frontal lobes is depressed in people with ADD. Studies show a decrease in the ability of the ADD brain to use lucose, the body’s main source of energy, leading to slower and less efficient activity. Neurotransmitters provide the connection between one nerve cell and another. In essence, neurotransmitters allow electrical impulses to pass across synapses from one neuron to another. It is now suspected that people with Attention Deficit Disorder have a chemical imbalance of a class of neurotransmitters called catecholamines.

Dopamine, helps to form a pathway between the motor center of the midbrain and the frontal lobes, as well as a pathway between the limbic system and the frontal lobes. Without enough dopamine nd related catecholamines, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, the frontal lobes are under stimulated and thus unable to perform their complex functions efficiently. Attention Deficit Disorder is strongly considered genetically inherited, however, not all cases of ADD may be genetically linked. . Studies have shown that 20-30% of all hyperactive children have a least one parent with ADD.

The environment is a big influence on a child during pregnancy and after. Some studies show that a small percentage of ADD cases were influenced by smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs during pregnancy. Exposure to toxins, such as lead, may also alter the brain chemistry and function. If you suspect that you are suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder you will need to discuss it with your medical doctor. In most cases the doctor will recommend that you visit a psychologist for an evaluation.

The psychologist is professionally trained in human behavior and will be able to provide counseling and testing in areas related to mental health. The psychologist is not able to prescribe medication to help you, but may send you to a psychiatrist to prescribe and monitor medication. A neurologist may be consulted in order to rule out neurological conditions causing your symptoms. Your doctor will gather information about your past and present difficulties, medical history , current psychological makeup, educational and behavioral functioning.

Depending on your symptoms, your diagnosis may be categorized as ADD, inattentive type ADD, or hyperactive/impulsive type ADD. After your diagnosis you may learn that you are also suffering from a learning disability, depression, or substance abuse, which is often associated with ADD. There is no cure for Attention Deficit Disorder. Along with increasing awareness of the problem, a better understanding of its causes and treatment has developed (3 Wender)”. There is medication for ADD which will only alleviate the symptoms.

The medication will not permanently restore the chemical balance. Approximately 70% of adults with ADD find that their symptoms significantly improve after they take medication prescribed by their doctors. The patient is able to concentrate on difficult and time-consuming tasks, stop impulsive behavior , and tame the restless twitches that have been experienced in the past. Some ADD patient’s psychological and behavioral problems are not solved by medication alone, and are required more therapy or training .

There are two types of drugs that work to balance the neurotransmitters and have been found to be most effective in treating ADD. Stimulants are drugs that stimulate or activate brain activity. Stimulants work by increasing the amount of dopamine either produced in the brain or used by the frontal lobes of the brain. There are several different stimulants that may work to alleviate the symptoms of ADD, including methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine Dexedrine), and pemoline (Cylert). Stimulants are by far the most effective medications in the treatment of ADD.

Some patients respond well to antidepressants. Antidepressants also stimulate brain activity in the frontal lobes, but they affect the production and use of other chemicals, usually norepinephrine and serotonin. The antidepressants considered most useful for ADD include imipramine (Tofranil), desipramine (Norpramin), bupropion ( Wellbutrin), and fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac). All stimulants have the same set of side effects. Some patients complain f feeling nauseous or headachy at the outset of treatment, but find that these side effects pass within a few days.

Others find that their appetites are suppressed and or that they have difficulty sleeping. If the stimulant dosage is too high the patient may experience feelings of nervousness, agitation, and anxiety, In rare cases, increased heart rate and high blood pressure can result with the use of stimulants, especially if the patient has an underlying predisposition toward hypertension. Ritalin is the most widely prescribed drug used to treat ADD in both children and adults. Ritalin appears to work by stimulating the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

The benefits of Ritalin include improved concentration and reduced distractibility and disorganization. Dextroamphetamine is another stimulant medication that appears to have a slightly different pharmacological action than Ritalin. Both work to boost the amount of available dopamine. Dextroamphetamine, however, blocks the reuptake of the neurotransmitter while Ritalin increases its production (334 Kelly, Ramundo, Press). All the drugs used to treat ADD have the same goal: to provide the brain ith the raw materials it needs to concentrate over a sustained period of time, control impulses, and regulate motor activity.

The drug or combination of drugs that work best for you depends on the individuals brain chemistry and constellation of symptoms. The process of finding the right drug can be tricky for each individual. The physicians are not able to accurately predict how any one individual will respond to various doses or types of Attention Deficit Disorder medication. Medication is rarely enough for the patient. Most Attention Deficit Disorder patients require therapy to give guidance . Adult patients have the burden of the past that often hinders their progress.

The patient then needs help with the relief of disappointment, frustration, and nagging sense of self- doubt that often weighs upon the ADD patient. Some ADD patients suffer from low- grade depression or anxiety, others with a dependence on alcohol or drugs, and most with low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness. Therapy also helps the ADD patient fully understand the disorder and how it controls the patients life. The knowledge of ADD will make the patient and arents more capable of changing the behaviors or circumstances disliked and enhancing strengths and assets.

A second and most crucial part of the education process involves informing those around you about the disorder and its effects. Family members, friends, employers, and colleagues have been playing roles in the drama called ADD without ever being aware of it. Explaining how the disorder may affect the relationships around the patient will help repair any past damage as well as pave the way to a stable future. Attention Deficit Disorder is difficult for any family. ADD challenges the relationships and the issues of daily family life.

Getting a family household to function smoothly is challenging for any family, with or without the presence of ADD. Adults and children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder have trouble establishing and maintaining physical order, coordinating schedules and activities, and accepting and meeting responsibilities. Parents with children suffering with ADD have to learn how to deal with the obstacles that they will have while raising their child. Adults dealing with ADD often have chronic employment problems, mpulsive spending, and erratic bookkeeping and bill paying.

Raising healthy, well-adjusted children requires patience, sound judgment, good humor, and, discipline which is difficult for an ADD parent to do. The presence of ADD often hinders the development of intimate relationships for a variety of reasons. Although many adults with ADD enjoy successful, satisfying marriages, the disorder almost always adds a certain amount of extra tension and pressure to the union. The non-ADD spouse bears an additional burden of responsibility for keeping the household running smoothly and meeting the needs of the children, he spouse with ADD, and, if he or she has time, his or her own priorities.

Parenting a child who has ADD can be an exhausting and, at times, frustrating experience. Parents play a key role in managing the disability. They usually need specialized training in behavior management and benefit greatly from parent support groups. Parents often find that approaches to parenting that work well with children who do not have ADD, do not work as well with children who have ADD. Parents often feel helpless, frustrated and exhausted. Too often, family members become angry and withdraw from each other. If untreated, the situation only worsens.

Parent training can be one of the most important and effective interventions for a child with ADD. Effective training will teach parents how to apply strategies to manage their child’s behavior and improve their relationship with their child. Without consistent structure and clearly defined expectations and limits, children with ADD can become quite confused about the behaviors that are expected of them. Making and keeping friends is a difficult task for children with ADD. A variety of behavioral excesses and deficits common to these children get in the ay of friendships.

They may talk too much, dominate activities, intrude in others’ games, or quit a game before its done. They may be unable to pay attention to what another child is saying, not respond when someone else tries to initiate and activity, or exhibit inappropriate behavior. I decided to write my research paper on Attention Deficit Disorder because my four-year old step-brother has recently been diagnosed with the disorder. I hope that my relationship with my brother can become closer now that I have a better understanding of what he is suffering from.

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