Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is not ‘a hystorical condition originating in America’. There is a wealth of scientific knowledge that gives us some understanding of the causes of the symptoms of ADHD.  The term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder refers to a syndrome in which sufferers present with a characteristic set of symptoms. There are several potential mechanisms that could result in these symptoms. The effect of nature ( such as the child’s brain chemistry, function or genetic make-up) and nurture ( such as their life experiences, social environment and the way in which they have been parented).

The causes of any child or adult’s symptoms are usually multi-factorial. ADHD is a classic example of a bio-psycho-social disorder. The symptoms are a result of an individual’s unique biology, psychological make up, life experiences and environment. There are a number of theories attempting to explain hyperactivity and poor impulse control and why people find certain environments and occupations more difficult than others.

The core symptoms of ADHD are:

  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity.

Studies have repeatedly shown that the symptoms of ADHD are remarkably stable over time. For the symptoms of ADHD to be clinical significance and to fulfill the diagnostic criteria, they must be present in a significant number and to and to a sufficient degree to affect seriously a person’s ability to function.

The diagnostic criteria used by health professionals are two classification systems ( or sets of diagnostic criteria).

The classification system of the WTO- (The International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition, or ICD-10.

The classification system by the American Psychiatric Association (The Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental Disorders, 4th edition or DSM-IV )

Causes of ADHD:

  • There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that ADHD is an inherited disorder(Genetics)
  • Neuroanatomy-right-sided caudate nucleus in people with ADHD is larger than their left-sided.
  • ADHD-is connected with Dopamine and Noradrenalin (Norepinephrine).
  • Azo-dyes in food seem to make children hyperactive.

Is ADHD a Mental Disorder ?

(Kohl 1989)suggests that ADHD children are actually normal but are being labeled mentally disordered because of parent and teacher intolerance. Barkley 1997 however shows that ADHD shows significant risks of maladjustment within any domains of adaptive functioning or social or school performance. Wakefield (1992) argued that mental disorders must meet several criteria to be viewed as such and ADHD children do meet the following:

  1. must engender substantial harm to individuals
  2. must incur dysfunction of natural mental mechanisms that have been selected in an evolutionary sense.

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