What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Some say that there is no such disorder, which is incorrect. It is a worldwide accepted condition. It is a brain development disorder occurring in about 5 to 7 percent children.
[third]It is a brain development disorder occurring in about 5 % to 7% children.[/third]
In certain brain development disorders, the physical features are visible. In Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome, for instance, the physical features are evident and hence these are accepted as real disorders. But, when you look at a child with ADHD they may not have any visible physical anomaly. And therefore it is not recognized as a medical condition. The behavioural manifestation of ADHD could be passed on as a naughty behaviour of a normal childhood, or even smartness. In these children there are no physical abnormalities, they have behavioural problems.
What are the mental functions that are affected in ADHD?
The ability to focus attention is the function of the brain. As far as a school child is concerned he should have approximately 30-40 minutes of attention span. There should be a coordination of eyes, hands and mind. Brain should be able to focus these functions. That varies from person to person, but with children with ADHD, attention holding function is very grossly impaired.
What happens is that the child will not be able to persist with the task. In the classroom, he will not be able to pay attention for a long time, and this will affect his academic performance.
Generally, a five or six-year child is able to sit quietly and keep calm when they are engaged with some serious activities. But children with ADHD will not be able to control their action. They will be very fidgety, restless, squirming on the seat and moving around. In addition to the distractibility, if the student is restless he can disrupt the whole class. The energy might be considered as the smartness of the child; however, it is an illness. It is “Disruptive” overactivity. Normally school going children are active and exuberant. That is not hyperactivity. Disruptive overactivity is called hyperactivity.
In addition to the distractibility, if the student is restless he can disrupt the whole class. The energy might be considered as the smartness of the child; however, it is an illness. It is “Disruptive” overactivity. Normally school going children are active and exuberant. That is not hyperactivity. Disruptive overactivity is called hyperactivity.
When attention deficit, hyperactivity and impulsivity combine that produces this syndrome called ADHD.
What can be the reason for ADHD?
The exact reason cannot be pointed out. The genetic factor could be a reason for ADHD. Many parents say that the father also was hyperactive in his childhood, but in those days, no one realized that it was ADHD. Nobody is sure why it happens in some children.
[third]Nobody is sure why it happens in some children. Basically, there could be some genetic influences.[/third]
Basically, there could be some genetic influences. It could be some infection or toxins that the mother carried when she was pregnant. Many a time we are unable to pinpoint that this is the cause, but these are the possibility. Scientific research has shown that the circuits in the brain that control the motor activity – brain circuits which control the impulsive reactions – these circuits are dysfunctional.
Dr. Varghese Punnoose specilaised in Child Psychiatry. He is an MBBS and MD in Psychiatry from Government Medical College. He is currently Professor and Head of Department at Government Medical College, Kottayam, Kerala.
He authored a book ‘Manorogangal’, in malayalam, about Pshycatric disorders. There is one chapter on ADHD also. [/plain]