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What Is A.D.D./A.D.H.D.

Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurological condition which is estimated to affect approximately 1% of children in the U.K. although figures in the U.S. are 3-5%. Dr. Christopher Green, an Australian Paediatrician, believes that 2% of Australia's school children are disadvantaged by this condition and it is possible that 10% may have a mild degree of the disorder. Though widely diagnosed and treated in the U.S. and Australia, the condition, as yet, is not widely recognised in the U.K.

The first behaviours are often found in early childhood, most children start to become recognised as having A.D.D. between the ages of 5 & 9 years. The condition continues throughout the school years and it is thought that 60% of children will carry some symptoms through to adulthood.

It is thought that A.D.D. can either be attributed to an hereditary or genetic cause or to damage to the fetus' brain during pregnancy or to the child's brain at or after birth.

The Behaviours

All A.D.D. children are different and will display individual behaviour patterns, each to their own degree of severity. Many will display some if not all of the following:-

Inattention:- Many sights, sound, memories and other stimulation's compete for a child's attention at the same time. This makes the child easily distracted, flit from one thing to another, forget instructions. Some are distant and dreamy at times, making them look spaced out. One to one supervision of the child works well but it must be remembered that the child has a poor short term memory.

Impulsiveness:- The child may speak or act without thinking at times inappropriately and may have a short fuse, leading to temper tantrums.

Over-activity:- The child can be restless and fidgety, constantly tapping their foot or fiddling with their fingers.

Insatiability:- Never satisfied the child appears to go on and on about a certain subject, can seem as if they are interrogating and generally tries to intrude or take over conversation. This can cause enormous tension.

Social Clumsiness:- The child never seems to quite 'fit' in with their peer group and can act silly in a group. They can be overpowering and bossy wanting to be the centre of attention, whatever the cost.

Poor Co-ordination:- The child may be clumsy and appear awkward in their movements. They have difficulty doing two actions at the same time and will probably produce untidy written work.

Disorganisation:- Blind to mess and oblivious to organisation the child can have problems structuring school work and find homework and projects difficult to start.

Variability:- the child can have severe mood swings and be very volatile. They can have good and bad days with no real explanation.

Specific Learning Difficulties:- Although most children appear to have a high I.Q. most will have learning difficulties due to their poor attention span. Many however do appear to have a combination of A.D.D. and a more specific learning difficulty, for example, Dyslexia or language problem.

The A.D.D. child may also suffer from asthma, eczema or E.N.T. problems, all of which are exacerbated by stress.

In the past A.D.D. has been attributed to Bad Parenting or diet. This however is Not the case and research is beginning to find genetic links or brain damage, either at or after birth to be a primary cause, leading to a minor malfunction of a specific part of the brain.

The child needs stability both at school, by having the same teacher or helper all the time and at home by being in a stable, loving environment. The child needs re-assurance at all times and we who care for them must realise that it is not total naughtiness - the child cannot help it.

The A.D.D. child will probably grow into the A.D.D. adult who may seem - impulsive, have a high energy level and need a lot of environmental stimulation - or - lazy, messy, daydreamers, poorly organised or poorly motivated. The impulsiveness may lead to alcohol, drug or substance abuse in order to self-medicate their own condition. Therefore re-assurance at all stages is essential.

Finally, A.D.D. is a real condition, it is NOT caused by bad parenting. It can cause tremendous stress not only on the sufferer but to the whole family, it can at times lead to long term damage to relationships.

The sufferer, be they child or adult, is NOT stupid and needs constant boosting of self-esteem to learn to believe in themselves.

A lot of sufferers remain undiagnosed inspite of current research, therefore the need to promote awareness among the professionals and general public is of paramount importance.




Compiled by adders.org from various sources freely available - 1997.

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