It is very normal for children to be more active, more energetic, less attentive, and more impulsive than adults. When parents complain that their child has difficulty paying attention, controlling his or her activity, or resisting impulses, others may dismiss these problems quickly as normal behavior and that there is no need for alarm. Behavior problems in areas such as school work, getting along with others, and inability to follow through and complete chores, have become so severe as to impair a childs adjustment are not likely to be outgrown can hardly be considered normal.
Children whose problems with attention, over-activity, and lack of inhibition reach a certain level have a developmental disability known as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. ADHD is a life disability for many children affecting their families, friends, and health and is extremely difficult to diagnose and to treat without having a great number of side effects that can leave children with complications for the rest of their lives. ADHD has multiple causes. One cause that has been studied is heredity and genes.
If a child has a close relative such as his/her father or mother that have had difficulties in school and academics, the same sort of actions will show in the child. There is good evidence to prove this genetic influence. Identical twins are created sharing the same genetic material. If one twin suffers ADHD, research shows an almost 90 percent chance that the other will also have this problem. An ADHD child of a parent with both ADHD and dyslexia often inherits both the attention and reading problems (Green and Chee, 19).
Another possible cause of ADHD is the role that sugar and other dietary factors play. It has been noted that parents of an ADHD child notice a worsening of hyperactivity and distractibility after the child has eaten a high carbohydrate meal or a lot of candy. There is a diet that ADHD are often put on and must follow to keep their activity down. It is known as the Feingold diet. It demonstrates a significant benefit in children that have ADHD. Some parents believe that their children are reactive to foods containing artificial coloring, flavoring agents and preservatives.
While on the Feingold diet, the child avoids apples, candy, luncheon meats, sausages, cake mixes, ice cream, and others like foods. Flavored cold drinks, soda pop, and medicines that contain aspirin are also excluded while on this diet. Diagnosing ADHD can be very tricky while trying to determine whether there is an attention problem or if the child is just being a child. There are many steps that must be done to diagnose ADHD. The childs behavior must be observed. The professional doing the observation watches the childs actions towards toys in the office, patience while waiting, and the way the child responds to the professional himself.
The talkativeness, the impulsivity, and the way the child copes with distractions are all noted. The professional then interviews the child while also viewing notes taken during other interviews the child encountered with his/her parents and teachers. The way the child responds during the interview has a huge affect in the diagnosis. After the observing and interviewing has been concluded, the child must go through a physical and neurological exam. Once the child has been diagnosed with ADHD, the treatment then begins. The treatment of ADHD must include several approaches.
These approaches include individual and family education, individual and family counseling, the use of appropriate behavioral management programs, and the use of appropriate medications. All of these approaches work closely with the childs school. Each family member must be educated so that they can help the child. It involves a great deal of teamwork. Each family member must be involved with the childs schoolwork and interested in the general aspects of life such as friends and other fun things. The child must be encouraged and praised a lot to help their performance.
The child must feel that he/she is being supported. Medications play a huge role in treating a child with ADHD. The most commonly known medication is Ritalin. It has been approved for children 6 years and older. It begins working in about 30 to 45 minutes and lasts for about four hours. The effectiveness of Ritalin in controlling targeted symptoms in ADHD, such as high activity level, ranges from about 30 to 50 percent in three- to five-year-olds, and close to 70 to 80 percent in six- to twelve-year-olds. Effectiveness appears to drop to around 60 percent in adolescents.
Another highly used medication is Dexedrine. It has been approved for three years of age and over. This short acting form lasts an hour or so longer than Ritalin. Each dose may last about three to five hours. There are a few other medications that are used but not to the extent of Ritalin and Dexedrine. They are Cylert and Adderall. Cylert lasts for about seven hours for children six years of age and older while Adderall is given to children three years of age and over and lasts for approximately four to six hours (ADHD Medication).
Healthy nutrition is important for all children; it is doubly important for a child with ADHD. Children who eat a breakfast containing both complex carbohydrates and proteins in equivalent calories tend to show better learning and better performance than children who eat primarily a high-protein or high-carbohydrate breakfast. Exclusively high-carbohydrate breakfasts seem to sedate children rather than stimulate their brain to learn. The children should treat themselves to a healthy breakfast and give him/her a smart start to the day (Sears and Thompson, 263).
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder can affect a childs life very dramatically. When a child is not doing good in school and does not have many friends, that can cause the child a great deal of stress. Many children feel like they are losers, or failures. They are usually teased and taunted at school because they are different. Although we know that they are not failures, trying to tell a child with this disorder is very difficult. The situation has to be handled very carefully so that the child is not hurt more.
The child needs lots of encouragement and praise from his/her parents, siblings, and other close family. School professionals should also take part in encouraging the child. Going through school with this disorder can leave a child suffering psychologically. With all the anguish that comes with ADHD, the child can grow up and live with this torture all his/her life. They will feel stupid and worthless and often times never grow out of the fierce effects that ADHD puts on young children. They often go through psychological counseling and treatment for depression.
As this paper has shown, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a traumatizing disorder to live with. It requires a great deal of support from all family members, school professionals, and medical professionals to help a child learn to live with ADHD. A child will rarely grow out of this disorder but will often find they deal with ADHD very well. It takes a lot of work for a child to learn to cope with ADHD. Most children, however, will grow up normal and live a very happy and healthy life.