BY Aaditya Sinha and Juuli Tuomi
What is ADHD
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder. It’s thought to be caused by a
chemical imbalance in the brain that affects the
parts controlling attention, concentration and
ADHD affects 3 to 5% of children world wide
and is found more frequently in boys then girls.
ADHD was first described by George Still in 1902. He called it ‘morbid defect
of moral control’.
Minimal brain damage (1930).
Minimal brain dysfunction (1960).
Hyperkinetic reaction of childhood (1968).
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) with or without hyperactivity (1980).
Since 1987, it has been known as ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity
More serious cases have been called ‘hyperkinetic disorder’ since 1992
Media and reason of recent increase in ADHD
ADHD has become much better known now in the United Kingdom
as it has a lot of media influence in both the United Kingdom and from the United
The US has a higher rate of diagnosis and medication than the UK. This is because:
•The definition of ADHD (used in the US) is wider than that of 'hyperkinetic disorder',
which is the diagnostic term more often used in the UK
•Prescription guidelines are looser in the US, where stimulant drugs are prescribed for
children under the age of six
•Some US schools are insisting that children with ADHD must take medication or they
will be excluded from school.
More UK specialists are using the American DSM-IV-TR definition now, so rates of
diagnosis are also rising in the UK.
The media often seizes on one thing that sells news and ADHD has become very
controversial especially because of:
- Causes
- Depiction of ADHD
- Stimulant Drugs
- Benefits Scams
The affect
A person with ADHD has difficulty filtering out all the information coming into
their brain, so their easily distracted, tends to respond before they have
considered things properly and doesn’t know when to stop.
A child with ADHD will take longer to settle in and concentrate than a child
without and may have problems following instructions.
Children with ADHD often have above-average intelligence but find it hard to
learn. They often also have problems socialising.
The condition is long term and can continue through adult life. There is a
genetic component and children with ADHD often have relatives (frequently
male) with ADHD.
It isn’t caused by bad parenting, but a child’s surroundings and support can
affect how severe the symptoms are and how well he can learn to deal with
ADHD Video
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to see this picture.
Three main symptoms as mentioned on the video are:
To get a diagnosis of ADHD, symptoms must:
•Have been present for at least six months
• Have developed before the age of seven.
• Be greater than expected for the child’s age and intelligence (ie more than just being a busy
• Have a significant negative impact in at least two settings, for example at home, work, school.
Sometimes parents don’t feel there’s a problem at home, either because they don’t have other
children to compare the ADHD child to, or because they’ve adjusted to their child’s behaviour
and are handling it well.
The child must also not have another disorder, eg mood, anxiety or personality, that could
cause the same symptoms.
Experts believe ADHD is partly due to an imbalance of chemicals that transmit messages to the brain and
partly because the areas of the brain that affect behaviour aren’t working properly.
The main factors are:
The child’s temperament, which affects attitude and personality.
a genetic link - recent studies show that 80-90 per cent of the risk for ADHD is genetic. This is why ADHD
tends to run in families.
Brain injury, either pre-birth or due to trauma during birth (this is a small percentage of cases).
Certain aspects of the family environment are found more often in children with ADHD, eg family stress. It isn’t
clear if these factors can cause ADHD. They may just increase the likelihood that ADHD will develop in a child
who is already genetically prone to it.
ADHD is not caused by:
Poor parenting. Parenting styles can affect the child’s behaviour, although the affect in style can help
manage difficult behaviour expressed by the child.
Diet, although dietary supplements such as fish oil may help.
Although in history:
In the past, researchers thought that ADHD was caused by:
• drug or alcohol abuse by the mother during pregnancy
• psychological trauma at an early age
• minor head injuries or brain damage.
The first two firmly put the blame on parents, but none of them took account of ADHD in children whose
mothers didn't take drugs or drink heavily during pregnancy, had a settled family background and didn't have
any brain damage.
Treatment depends on the age of the child, the type of ADHD they have
and any other conditions. It should be tailored to the individual child, and
may include:
•Counselling for the child and parents from a psychologist
•Behaviour management advice
•Strategies to help your child learn and deal with social problems, eg
teasing by other children
•Strategies to increase your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem
•one-to-one help at school
•Medication (tends not to be for children under six, except in severe
cases). Most of the types of medication offered are neurostimulants that
work by changing levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
These work by ‘controlling’ and ‘inhibiting’ part of brain, making the brain
work in a more efficient way – so your child can concentrate better and
behave more calmly.

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