Attention Deficit Disorder: What It Is And Is Not
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is commonly known as a childhood syndrome characterized by impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and a short attention span, which often leads to learning disabilities and various behavioral problems. The exact definition of ADD is, “an inability to control behavior due to difficulty in processing neural stimuli”(online medical dictionary). Neural pertains to nerves. There are three different levels of ADD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Inattention Disorder, and Attention Deficit Impulsive Disorder.
In my research I hope to learn what causes this behavior and how to take care of it. I also hope to learn how one would get Attention Deficit Disorder. I would like to know why one would get ADD.
I would like others to learn what ADD is, how to diagnose it, and how to cope with it. My goal is for others to know that it exists but is treatable and that an affected person can be a productive person in society. I hope they learn to understand that it is not something to laugh about and that it is a serious disorder.
Attention Deficit Disorder, in my eyes, is a disorder that one cannot control. Sometimes, it becomes so hard to hold back interruptions or impulses that it becomes embarrassing. It cannot be controlled; it is involuntary. The affected person’s brain thinks it is normal so they just impulsively respond to situations. Not knowing that what they are doing is disruptive, they repeat these actions because their brain has thought this way since they were born.
ADD is a disorder that is one of the best-researched disorders. Even though it is researched in such a great degree, the cause is still unknown. However, research suggests that it is a neurobiological condition. Which is to say that it has to do with the nerves in the brain and that it is genetic. It is proven that ADD runs in the family.
The most frequently stated cause of Attention Deficit Disorder is, “the involvement of the prefrontal cortex, part of the cerebellum and at least two of the clusters of the nerve cells deep in the brain known as the basal ganglia”(Philip W. Long, MD). It Is determined that, “the right prefrontal cortex and two basal ganglia known as the caudate nucleus and globus palliclus are smaller than usual in a child with ADD”(Philip W. Long, MD). Additionally, “the vermis region of the cerebellum is smaller”(Philip W. Long, MD). This is understandable as the areas that are significantly smaller are those that regulate attention.
It is also stated that mutations in several genes are the reason for the reduced sections in the brain. Most researches believe that it is a polygenetic disorder, or in simpler terms, it is more than one gene contributing to the disorder.
Researchers found that ADD has a heritably drawing near eighty-percent. If a parent has ADD, the child has a fifty-percent chance of developing the disorder. Also, the siblings of a child with ADD are five to seven times more likely to have it than children from unaffected families. Research has also concluded that genes that serve as the blue print for dopamine receptors and transporters are very active in the prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia.
A person would know they or a loved one had inattention ADD by some of the following most common symptoms: inability to pay close attention, difficulty sustaining attention in tasks, not listening when spoken to, inability to follow through on instructions, and failing to finish homework, difficulty organizing tasks and activities, avoiding engaging in tasks that require mental effort, losing necessary things for tasks or activities, easily distracted by irrelevant motivation, and forgetful in daily activities.
A person would know if they or a loved one had hyperactivity ADD by some of the following most common symptoms: fidgeting, leaving their seat in class, running about or climbing excessively, difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly, on the go a lot, and talking excessively. Lastly, if one had impulsivity they would often blurt out answers, have difficulty waiting their turn and interrupt or intrude on others. Studies show all levels of ADD are present before age seven.
Emma is a college student and was diagnosed with ADD. In her story she states, “I’m distractible, unorganized, impatient and I procrastinate”(Terry Matlen, story 16). She doesn’t look at ADD in a negative light. She feels that even though she cannot sit still through a lecture, she can write an amazing essay. Emma’s creativity, intuitivism, and intelligence help her get through life. When Emma was diagnosed with ADD she was relieved. She finally felt like she knew the answer to the mistakes she made, the bad grades, and the stupid things she had said. Emma began taking medication and her life made a 360-degree turn. She was acing tests, understood lessons, could comprehend exactly what the book was saying and for the first time she was focused. She is determined to have a normal life and she states, “With medicine, counseling, and a lot of support, I’m going to be okay” (Terry Matlen, story 16).
Terri’s son, David, was tested repeatedly for different things to determine what was wrong with his behavior. Terri explains that David was different right from birth. He was being unsafe when it came to things that were active, more vocal and inquisitive. When David entered the fourth grade, his teacher had him tested for ADD. David was diagnosed with ADD and was given medication to help him cope with it. By the end of fourth grade, he was reading and progressed as the year went on. David cannot, however, take written assignments as easily as the other children. He has a hard time getting the information from his head through his pencil and onto paper. Although David is coping well with the disorder, he still becomes frustrated with it. He constantly wants to do better. Terri just tells him to take things one stop at a time.
Christa Wickert is twenty-years old and you can believe it, she is my sister. She was diagnosed with ADD in the sixth grade. However, signs of ADD appeared as early as twenty-two months when she was taken to a speech therapist because Christa was not speaking at all. Christa was tested and found to be functioning at a seven-month old level of speech and language. In school as a child, Christa was not given attention because she was so extremely quiet she simply was not noticed. She was known as the, “different” kid. In class, she was time and time again made fun of because of this. As Christa grew older, she was put into a class that the teacher cared enough to have her tested. She was diagnosed with ADD and our parents were told to put her on Ritalin. She began taking the Ritalin and was a totally different person in a negative outlook. She was like a vegetable. I can remember playing with her as a child and realizing that she was very spacey and just seemed to sit there. I missed her and felt like someone had taken my sister away. My parents took her off the Ritalin and I got my sister back. Christa coped with ADD the rest of her adolescent life and graduated high school with a great deal of help from our parents and high school teachers and counselors. Christa is now a sophomore in college and has made great strives in learning to control her disorder. She is doing very well and making good grades. I don’t think anyone could tell she has the disorder.
A treatment to help the situations affected by ADD is Ritalin. It comes in short term tablets that last about three hours. This way, the medication will last through the school day. Although some people believe that Ritalin is a good medication, it has sparked a great deal of controversy. The side effects seem to be worse than the actual problem. Some children may lose weight, have less appetite, and tend to grow at a slower pace. Others might have problems falling asleep. Even though the medication has side effects, doctors say that they can be handled by reducing the dosage.
Another leading treatment is dextroamphetamine or commonly known as Dexedrine. Dexedrine is also used to treat Narcolepsy and a short-term treatment for obesity. Dexedrine is one of the better d rugs to help patients with ADD. It does have some side effects. The most common side effects are agitation, irritability and insomnia. The infrequent side effects that rarely occur are hallucinations, liver irritation, increased heart rate, tics, Tourette’s syndrome, and sexual difficulties.
Guanfacine or Tenex is yet another medication to treat ADD, but it is also used to treat mild to moderate high blood pressure. Tenex seems to work the best for hyperactivity, but not so much the distractibility. Some people that are treated with Tenex experience some side effects such as, drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, mild lowering of blood pressure on standing. Some infrequent side effects that occur are skin problems such as rashes or itching, headache, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea and slow heart rate.
Attention Deficit Disorder is “the inability to control behavior due to difficulty in processing neural stimuli”(online medical dictionary).
When a child behaves in an interruptive manner, the brain does not function to tell the body that what he/she is doing is wrong. So in that light, a child had never known from the beginning that what they are doing is wrong.
Basically, the chemical in the brain is becoming overactive in certain parts of the brain and one of the parts affected is the Prefrontal Cortex, which regulates behavior. So one would have behavior problems because the nerves in that part of the brain are overactive with dopamine.
If you or a loved one are experience the symptoms of ADD, here are some places to get help:
1.ADD Action Group
P.O. Box 1440 Ansonia Station
New York, NY 10023
145 E. University Dr. #5
Mesa, AZ 85201
3.Attention Deficit Disorder Clinic
6900 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. 260
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Attention Deficit Disorder is a serious disorder and occurs in children and adults. Mainly children. The three different levels of Attention Deficit Disorder, inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness, all are treatable, not curable but treatable. Someone experiencing ADD is usually the one constantly talking, interrupting, climbing up, and is loud. It is hereditary and one could only get it through family history.
The common cause of ADD is the reduction of size in specific sections of the brain as explained before.
Several genes, which are mutated, are responsible for the small sections in the brain. Researchers do believe that ADD is a polygenic disorder. Also, ADD is passed down through the genes in the family. As you can already see, all of the causes are linked together someway.
This research project has been a great experience for me. I have learned everything I wanted to learn. I learned that too much dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia is the cause for such behavior that is expressed with ADD. I have also found out that there are many treatments to help people with this disorder and they are successful.
I hope others have learned as much as I have through my paper. I want them to understand that ADD is a serious disorder and that it can be treated with the right medication and support. I also hope that they understand exactly why this type of behavior that is expressed in people with ADD happens. If anybody or anyone you know has ADD, I hope I have helped them understand and find help for that person.