What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?

What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?

Boy kneeling on floor, hiding face

Health experts say that ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is the most common behavioral disorder that starts during childhood. However, it does not only affect children – people of all ages can suffer from ADHD. Psychiatrists say ADHD is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder.

An individual with ADHD finds it much more difficult to focus on something without being distracted. He has greater difficulty in controlling what he is doing or saying and is less able to control how much physical activity is appropriate for a particular situation compared to somebody without ADHD. In other words, a person with ADHD is much more impulsive and restless.

Health care professionals may use any of the following terms when describing a child (or an older person) who is overactive and has difficulty concentrating – attention deficit, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hyperkinetic disorder, hyperactivity.

North Americans commonly use the terms ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). In the UK hyperkinetic disorder is the official term – however, ADD and ADHD have become widely used.

ADHD in children is completely different from normal childhood excited and boisterous behavior. Many children, especially very young ones, are inattentive and restless without necessarily being affected by ADHD.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 4.4 million children aged 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD in the USA by a healthcare professional. As of 2003 two-and-a-half million American children aged 4 to 17 are being treated for ADHD with medicines. The CDC adds that in 2003 7.8% of all school-aged American children were reported to have an ADHD diagnosis by their parent.

Three types of ADHD

According to the CDC, there are three types of ADHD. They are defined according to which symptoms stand out the most.

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Type
    The person finds it very difficult to organize or finish a task. They find it hard to pay attention to details and find it difficult to follow instructions or conversations.
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
    The person finds it hard to keep still – they fidget and talk a lot. A smaller child may be continually jumping, running or climbing. They are restless and impulsive – interrupting others, grabbing things and speaking at inappropriate times. They have difficulty waiting their turn and find it hard to listen to directions. A person with this type of ADHD will have more injuries and/or accidents than others.
  3. Combined Type
    A person whose symptoms include all those of 1 and 2, and whose symptoms are equally predominant. In other words, all the symptoms in 1 and 2 stand out equally.
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