Attention Deficit Disorder


Chris Brown
English 102: section 6
May 3, 1996


Approximately 3-5% of all American children have an Attention Deficit
Disorder (ADD). ADD is a leading cause of school failure and under-achievement.
ADD characteristics often arise in early childhood. As many as 50% of children
with ADD are never diagnosed. Boys significantly outnumber girls, though girls
are more likely to be undiagnosed with ADD. "ADD is not an attention disorder,
but a disorder of impulse control ( Seminar notes Barkeley) ."
Characteristics of Attention Deficit Disorder can include : Fidgeting
with hands or feet , difficulty remaining seated, awaiting turns in games,
following through on instructions , shifting from one uncompleted task to
another, difficulty playing quietly, interrupting conversations and intruding
into other children\'s games, appearing to be not listening to what is being said,
doing things that are dangerous without thinking about the consequences.
Most scientist now believe that a brain dysfunction or abnormality in
brain chemistry could be to blame for the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.
The frontal lobes of the brain are thought to be most responsible for the
regulation of behavior and attention. They receive information from the lower
brain, which regulated arousal and screens incoming messages from within and
outside of the body. The limbic system , a group of related nervous system
structures located in the midbrain and linked to emotions and feelings, also
sends messages to the frontal lobes. Finally, the frontal lobes are suspected to
be the site of working memory, the place where information about the immediate
environment is considered for memory storage, planning, and future-directed
behavior. Scientist believe the activity in the frontal lobes is depressed in
people with ADD. Studies show a decrease in the ability of the ADD brain to use
glucose, the body\'s main source of energy, leading to slower and less efficient
activity. Neurotransmitters provide the connection between one nerve cell and
another. In essence, neurotransmitters allow electrical impulses to pass across
synapses from one neuron to another. It is now suspected that people with
Attention Deficit Disorder have a chemical imbalance of a class of
neurotransmitters called catecholamines. Dopamine, helps to form a pathway
between the motor center of the midbrain and the frontal lobes, as well as a
pathway between the limbic system and the frontal lobes. Without enough dopamine
and related catecholamines, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, the frontal
lobes are under stimulated and thus unable to perform their complex functions
efficiently.
Attention Deficit Disorder is strongly considered genetically inherited,
however, not all cases of ADD may be genetically linked. . Studies have shown
that 20-30% of all hyperactive children have a least one parent with ADD. The
environment is a big influence on a child during pregnancy and after. Some
studies show that a small percentage of ADD cases were influenced by smoking,
drinking alcohol, and using drugs during pregnancy.
Exposure to toxins, such as lead, may also alter the brain chemistry and
function. If you suspect that you are suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder
you will need to discuss it with your medical doctor. In most cases the doctor
will recommend that you visit a psychologist for an evaluation. The psychologist
is professionally trained in human behavior and will be able to provide
counseling and testing in areas related to mental health. The psychologist is
not able to prescribe medication to help you, but may send you to a psychiatrist
to prescribe and monitor medication. A neurologist may be consulted in order to
rule out neurological conditions causing your symptoms. Your doctor will gather
information about your past and present difficulties, medical history , current
psychological makeup, educational and behavioral functioning.
Depending on your symptoms, your diagnosis may be categorized as ADD,
inattentive type ADD, or hyperactive/impulsive type ADD. After your diagnosis
you may learn that you are also suffering from a learning disability, depression,
or substance abuse, which is often associated with ADD.
There is no cure for Attention Deficit Disorder. "Along with increasing
awareness of the problem, a better understanding of its causes and treatment has
developed (3 Wender)". There is medication for ADD which will only alleviate
the symptoms. The medication will not permanently restore the chemical balance.
Approximately 70% of adults with ADD find that their symptoms significantly
improve after they take medication prescribed by their doctors. The patient is
able to concentrate on difficult and time-consuming tasks, stop impulsive
behavior , and tame the restless twitches that have been experienced in the past.
Some ADD patient\'s psychological and behavioral problems are not solved by
medication alone, and are required more therapy or training .
There are two types of drugs that