Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children (Childhood ADHD or ADD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Summary
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by the symptoms hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Treatment for ADHD may involve behavioral therapy and psychostimulant or antidepressant medication.
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children facts

  • ADHD refers to a chronic disorder that initially manifests in childhood and is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention.
  • The cause of ADHD has not been fully defined and may involve brain-chemical and genetic factors.
  • The diagnosis of ADHD involves many disciplines to include comprehensive medical, developmental, educational, and psychosocial evaluations.
  • ADHD can cluster in families.
  • Children with ADHD may require adjustments in the structure of their educational experience, including tutorial assistance and the use of a resource room.
  • Medications are available to treat ADHD and can improve overall function.

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a chronic biobehavioral disorder that initially manifests in childhood and is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention. Not all of those affected by ADHD manifest all three behavioral categories. These symptoms can lead to difficulty in academic, emotional, and social functioning. The diagnosis is established by satisfying specific criteria and may be associated with other neurological, significant behavioral, and/or developmental/learning disabilities. Treatment options include the use of medication, behavioral therapy, and adjustments in day-to-day lifestyle activities.

Studies in the United States indicate approximately 8%-10% of children satisfy diagnostic criteria for ADHD. ADHD is, therefore, one of the most common disorders of childhood. ADHD occurs two to four times more commonly in boys than girls (male to female ratio 4:1 for the predominantly hyperactive type vs. 2:1 for the predominantly inattentive type). Three subtypes of ADHD are described: (1) predominantly inattentive, (2) predominantly hyperactive and impulsive, and (3) combined. While previously believed to be "outgrown" by adulthood, current opinion indicates that many children will continue throughout life with symptoms that may affect both occupational and social functioning. Some medical researchers note that approximately 40%-50% of ADHD-hyperactive children will have (typically non-hyperactive) symptoms persist into adulthood.


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