Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder generally characterized by the following symptoms, inattention, distractibility, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity.
Types of ADHD
ADHD is classified into three subtypes:
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type. Behavior marked by hyperactivity and impulsivity, but not inattentiveness
Predominantly Inattentive Type. Behavior marked by inattentiveness, but not hyperactivity and impulsivity
Combination Type. A combination of hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattentive symptoms. This is the most common type of ADHD.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children. The recommendations include:
ADHD should be recognized and treated as a chronic illness that can last through adolescence and into adulthood.
Children as young as 4 years old and as old as 18 years old can be diagnosed with ADHD.
ADHD should be diagnosed based on behavioral problems that occur both at home and at school. Symptoms should have lasted for at least 6 months for older children, and at least 9 months for preschoolers (children ages 4 - 5 years old).
For preschoolers, behavioral therapy should be the first treatment. If behavioral methods don’t work, the stimulant drug methylphenidate (Ritalin, generic) may be prescribed in some cases. For older children, a combination of medication and behavioral therapy is recommended.
Symptoms of ADHD usually become apparent at a young age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, ADHD symptoms can first emerge in children as young as age four.
ADHD is sometimes described as impairing the “executive functions” of the brain. Executive functioning refers to the cognitive abilities necessary to plan, organize, and carry out tasks. Executive function deficits can cause the following problems:
Inability to hold information in short-term memory...