Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

“It seems very probable that children with attention and work completion difficulties without significant behavioral and learning problems often go unaided in classrooms today.” (Semrud-Clekeman, Nielsen, Clinton, Sylvester, Parle, and Connor, 1999, p. 587).

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is much more prevalent in today’s society than it was in previous generations. More and more people are being diagnosed at an alarming rate. This disorder does not only affect children, there are many adults who suffer from it as well.

ADHD characteristics are neuro-biologically based, and they often change as the individual gets older. One does not out-grow ADHD even though the behavior or symptoms may not be exhibited in the same manner or with the same intensity. An article titled “An Intervention Approach for Children with Teacher and Parent Identified Attention Difficulties,” explained that inattention, impulsivity, distracability, and restlessness are all signs of a child with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Types of ADHD

Usually children who exhibit these subtypes have difficulty completing assignments, displaying high qualities of work and maintaining good behavior. Children with the hyperactivity-impulsivity subtype do not display significant attention problems, though they are identified as young as pre-school age.

Symptoms of inattention don’t typically emerge until the later ages, which is why the predominantly inattentive and combined subtypes of ADHD have been found in older school-age children. These children, who have been identified as having ADHD, show an inability to use effective problem solving over a period of time. When researchers look at their brain structures, they find that the frontal-striatal regions are involved with the child’s ability to inhibit, focus, and shift attention. Researchers have formed interventions involving the behavioral or cognitive management of children with ADHD. Attention-training strategies, classroom-based contingency systems, home-school contingencies, and peer-mediated contingencies are examples of these interventions.

The popular media article found in U.S. News and World Report, “Taking a Picture of a Mind Gone Awhirl,” focuses on a new imaging method used to diagnose ADHD. It is said to be the first definitive test for ADHD. “The new diagnostic exam, developed by psychiatrists at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., uses an infrared tracking device to measure difficult-to-detect movements of children as they attempt a tough but boring attention test, pressing the space bar each time a particular kind of star appears for a brief moment somewhere on the computer screen” (Schrof Fischer, 2000).

Researchers began a study on eleven boys who had previously been diagnosed with ADHD and six boys who do not have this disorder. If the boys pressed the space bar too quickly, it demonstrated how impulsive they were. If they did not notice on of the stars on the screen, it determined how much their attention wandered. “Using this rigorous screening, only six of the eleven boys were confirmed to fit a strict definition of ADHD” (Schrof Fischer, 2000). This in turn means that five of the boys did not fit the “strict” definition of ADHD. Therefore they must have been misdiagnosed at some point.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Behavior Disorders

Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD is a diagnosis given to youth that are totally against anything they are asked to do. They are disagreeable and hard to get along with. They will usually spend most of their school day in the principal’s office or a resource class. There are medications to help this type of child, and schools that will accept a child with this diagnosis. The debate over the effectiveness of the medications prescribed for this diagnosis is ongoing. Some people feel that the diagnosis is given to a child who in some cases just needs a “kick in the pants” so to speak.

This term includes any type of disorder that affects a child’s behavior. There are many terms that could be placed in this category, but behavior disorders that we will deal most effectively with are as follows: Bi-Polar, Conduct Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD, Depression and Anxiety Disorders