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Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a developmental disorder, in that, in the diagnosed population, certain traits such as impulse control significantly lag in development when compared to the general population. The most common symptoms of ADHD are distractibility, difficulty with concentration and focus, short term memory loss, procrastination, problems organizing ideas and belongings, tardiness, impulsivity, and weak planning and execution. Not all people with ADHD exhibit all symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) categorises the symptoms of ADHD into two clusters: Inattention symptoms and Hyperactivity/Impulsivity symptoms. Most ordinary people exhibit some of these behaviors but not to the point where they seriously interfere with the person's work, relationships, or studies or cause anxiety or depression. Children do not often have to deal with deadlines, organization issues, and long term planning so these types of symptoms often become evident only during adolescence or adulthood when life demands become greater.

I have placed the following information for your information regarding ADHD and the diagnostic criteria.

 

DSM-IV criteria for ADHD

 

I. Either A or B:

A. Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:
 
 
 
1, Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
 
2, Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
3, Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
 
4, Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
 
5, Often has trouble organizing activities.
 
6, Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn't want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
 
7, Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
 
8, Is often easily distracted.
 
9, Often forgetful in daily activities.

 

B. Six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:

 

Hyperactivity:

 

1, Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

2, Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.

3, Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).

4, Often has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.

5, Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor".

6, Often talks excessively.

 

Impulsiveness:

 

1, Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.

2, Often has trouble waiting one's turn.

3, Often interrupts or intrudes on others ( e.g., butts into converstaions or games).

 

 

II. Some symptoms that cause impairment were present before age 7 years.

III. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g. at school/work and at home).

IV. There must be clear evidence of significant impairment in social, school, or work functioning.

V. The symptoms do not happen only during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder. The symptoms are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

In the tenth edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) the symptoms of ADD are given the name "Hyperkinetic disorders". When a conduct disorder (as defined by ICD-10) is present, the condition is referred to as "Hyperkinetic conduct disorder". Otherwise the disorder is classified as "Disturbance of Activity and Attention", "Other Hyperkinetic Disorders" or "Hyperkinetic Disorders, Unspecified". The latter is sometimes referred to as, "Hyperkinetic Syndrome".

Also the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Practice Guideline for children with ADHD emphasizes that a reliable diagnosis is dependent upon the fulfillment of three criteria:

  • The use of explicit criteria for the diagnosis using the DSM-IV-TR. (There has been five revisions of the DSM since it was first published in 1952. The last major revision was the DSM-IV published in 1994, although a "text revision" was produced in 2000. The DSM-V is currently in consultation, planning and preparation, due for publication in May 2012).
  • The importance of obtaining information about the child’s symptoms in more than one setting.
  • The search for coexisting conditions that may make the diagnosis more difficult or complicate treatment planning.

The first criterion can be satisfied by using an ADHD-specific instrument such as the Conners' Rating Scale. The second criterion is best fulfilled by examining the individual's history. This history can be obtained from parents and teachers, or a patient's memory. The requirement that symptoms be present in more than one setting is very important because the problem may not be with the child, but instead with teachers or parents who are too demanding. The use of intelligence testing, psychological testing, and neuropsychological testing (to satisfy the third criterion) is essential in order to find or rule out other factors that might be causing or complicating the problems experienced by the patient. Neuropsychological tests such as T.O.V.A. objectively measure attention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that a diagnosis of ADD should only be made by trained health care providers, as many of the symptoms may also be part of other conditions, such as bodily illness or other physiological disorders, such as hypothyroidism. It is not uncommon that physically and mentally nonpathological individuals exhibit at least some of the symptoms from time to time. Severity and pervasiveness of the symptoms leading to prominent functional impairment across different settings (school, work, social relationships) are major factors in a positive diagnosis.

Adults often continue to be impaired by ADD. Adults with ADD are diagnosed under the same criteria, including the stipulation that their symptoms must have been present prior to the age of seven. Adults face some of their greatest challenges in the areas of self-control and self-motivation, as well as executive functioning, usually having more symptoms of inattention and fewer of hyperactivity or impulsiveness than children do.

Common comorbid conditions are Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD). About 20% to 25% of children with ADD meet criteria for a learning disorder. Learning disorders are more common when there are inattention symptoms.

 

 

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