One of the most common childhood neurobehavioral, neurodevelopmental or neuropsychiatric disorders is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADHD is classified as a mental illness according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA). ADHD runs in families. It has been found that between one-third to one-half of parents with ADHD will have a child with the disorder. Also, it has been found that woman with pregnancy problems such as low birth weight, premature birth, who smoke and drink alcohol are at higher risk. A child with damage to the frontal lobe of the brain has a higher risk of the disorder. The frontal lobe controls emotions and impulses. Any environmental exposure to pesticides, PCBs or lead, may contribute to the cause of ADHD.
ADHD is referred to as an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This disorder is a combination of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. The symptoms of inattention are related to an unfocused mind, boredom, not able to complete routine tasks,, easily forgetful, problems remembering your responsibilities, procrastination, trouble staying seated during meetings or activities, always moving, unable to pay attention in class, roaming around, touching everything, loud answers to questions, cannot take turns in activities, inappropriate responses, learning disability which includes depression and anxiety. The restlessness becomes more intense as the person ages into adulthood. The age of diagnosis of ADHD is as low as seven years old.
There are several treatment options of ADHD, which are medical, non-medical and behavioral/educational. There are stimulant and non-stimulant medications. The medications are classified as short-acting (immediate-release), intermediate-acting, and long-acting forms. Historically, in 1961 hyperactive children were treated with the stimulant drug Ritalin (Methylphenidate) to address "hyperkinetic" symptoms in ADHD children. This drug helps in children paying attention, to stay focused, control behavior problems, helps the child to organize tasks and improving listening skills. The FDA approved Atomoxetine (Strattera Hydrochloride), the first non-stimulant drug for ADHD children, adolescents, and adults. This drug is a noncontrolled substance, which treats and controls ADHD symptoms. The side effects of the medications include weight loss, sleep problems, headaches, and jitteriness. The more potent side effects include increased risk of blood vessel and heart problem, and could result in psychiatric conditions such as depression, psychosis, and anxiety. Since ADHD is considered a brain disorder, there are nonmedical treatments that directly address brain function. The company Neurocore developed a non-medical program based on brain mapping which is designed to locate unbalances of the brain to determine brain function. The program employes brain training therapy using neurofeedback and biofeedback to improve the child's focus.
In 1975 Congress passes The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) was passed requiring "free, appropriate public education" for all children with disabilities. This form of special education treatment is but one way of reducing the negative effects of ADHD. Special education programs in schools were developed to train ADHD and children with Learning Disorders (LD) by addressing ADHD symptoms in a school setting. A Special Education program, which is designed to accommodate classroom activities specifically to treat ADHD symptoms. For instance, a special education program would concentrate on attention span, working on individual assignments by reducing the workload, allowing extra time to take tests and give the children extra breaks to address the issues of restlessness, and attentiveness.
The best treatment program is based on a trial and error approach and tailored to the child's specific needs. ADHD children may require a medical approach combined with other forms of treatment.