Childhood Disorders

Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder

The main features of ADHD include hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and an inability to sustain attention or concentration. These symptoms occur at levels that cause significant distress and impairment and are generally far more severe than normally found in children of similar ages and developmental levels. ADHD is found in 3% to 5% of all school-age children, and is much more common in boys than in girls. This disorder often develops before the child is seven, but is most often diagnosed when the child is between ages 8 to 10. Children with ADHD have difficulty in finishing any activity that requires concentration and do not seem to listen to anything said to them. They are excessively active - running or climbing at inappropriate times, squirming in or jumping out of their seats, easily distracted, talk incessantly, and often blurting out responses before questions are finished. They have serious problem with waiting their turn in games or groups.

There are many variants of this disorder. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) does not have hyperactivity as a major component. These children, on the other hand, are more likely to be described as quiet and well behaved but have a strong tendency to 'day dream'. Short attention span, poor levels of concentration, or getting lost in their own thoughts are the highlights in their profile.

In addition, children with ADHD may have specific learning disabilities, which can lead to emotional problems, like falling behind in school or receiving constant reprimands from adults or ridicule from other children. Treatment can include the use of medications, special educational programs and psychotherapy. Majority of children with ADHD respond to medications. This allows them to improve their attention span, perform tasks better, and control impulsive behavior. As a result, children get along better with their teachers, classmates, and parents. This, in turn, improves their self-esteem. Psychotherapy enables children to cope with their disorder and the reaction of others to it. An essential component of psychotherapy involves the work of the psychologist with both the child and the parents to develop techniques for behavior management.

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