Thursday, December 02, 1999

What is attention deficit disorder?

        First, it has several names: ADD (attention deficit disorder) and AD/HD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Some people have attention problems, while others are hyperactive, too.

        Its definition has changed over the years, and professionals now consider it a brain-chemical imbalance that often runs in families. Three major factors are considered when diagnosing ADD in children and adults at school, work or home: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. Some of the traits linked with each are:

        • Inattention: Doesn't pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes; can't sustain attention at play or work; doesn't seem to listen when spoken to directly; doesn't follow through on instructions; is sloppy and disorganized; avoids activities that require sustained mental effort; loses things; is forgetful in daily activities or is easily distracted. More often than with boys, girls with ADD may also act dreamy, shy, withdrawn, embarrassed, socially inept and forgetful.

        • Hyperactivity: Fidgets and squirms; can't stay seated when expected; runs about or climbs excessively in inappropriate settings; talks excessively; has seemingly unending energy; can't play or engage quietly in leisure activities.

        • Impulsive behaviors: Blurts out answers before the question is asked; has trouble waiting or taking turns; interrupts or intrudes on others during games, conversation or work.

        Increasingly, specialists are finding that ADD is present with or masked by other conditions, including anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic fatigue, lead or metal poisoning, severe behavior problems, seizures, excessive caffeine use, learning disabilities, Tourette's syndrome and the stress of divorce, job loss, previous trauma and the like.

        Parents are urged to find an educational specialist, psychologist, counselor or doctor who specializes in learning disabilities/ADD for an accurate diagnosis.Treatment must address all of the child's problems.

        Source: A Parent's Handbook on AD/HD, compiled and published by the Attention Deficit Disorders Council of Greater Cincinnati.

ADD parents' challenge: Focus on practical ideas
Addressing ADD at home
- What is attention deficit disorder?

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