Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are divided into three sub categories:
Some individuals will fall within the predominantly inattentive type. These children or adults are considered to have ADD.
History of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
ADD is a neurologically-based developmental disability in which the causes remain unknown.
- Hippocrates described a condition similar to ADHD
- The name Attention Deficit Disorder was first introduced in 1980
- In 1994, the definition of ADD was changed to include the three subcategories, as mentioned above.
What is ADD/ADHD
ADD/ADHD is said to affect an estimated 3-5% of school-aged children. A child with ADD is often described as having a short attention span and is easily distractible. Distractibility and inattentiveness are not the same by definition. Distractibility is the short attention span and the ease with which some children can be pulled off task. If we refer to someone who is distractible, we are saying that a part of that person’s attention process is disrupted. These children have difficulty with one or all parts of the attention process. Some children have trouble focusing on tasks, especially routine or boring tasks. Others have difficulty knowing where to start a task. Others may get lost following the directions along the way. A careful observer can see where the attention process breaks down.
Symptoms of ADD/ADHD
- often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities;
- often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities;
- often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
- often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions);
- often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities;
- often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework);
- often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools);
- is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli;
- is often forgetful in daily activities.
Children with ADD may also exhibit hyperactivity, which is the most visible sign of the disorder. By adolescence or adulthood, overactivity may appear as restless or fidgety behavior.
- often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat;
- often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected;
- often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness);
- often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly;
- is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor;”
- often talks excessively.
Children with impulsivity leads them to act before thinking because they have trouble waiting for, or delaying gratification. These children have difficulty controlling impulse. For example, a child may engage in risky behavior, such as running across the street without looking, the child is not a risk taker. The impulsive response is driving the child. Impulsivity and hyperactivity are no longer considered separate features. Hyperactivity-impulsivity is a pattern originating from an overall difficulty in inhibiting behavior.
- often blurts out answers before questions have been completed;
- often has difficulty awaiting turn;
- often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).
In addition to problems with inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity, the disorder is often seen with associated features. Depending on the child’s age and developmental stage, parents and teachers may see low frustration tolerance, temper outbursts, bossiness, difficulty in following rules, disorganization, social rejection, poor self-esteem, academic underachievement, and inadequate self-application.
Other main diagnostic features of ADD/ADHD include:
- Symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity must persist for at least six months and be maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental levels;
- Some of the symptoms causing impairment must be present before age 7;
- Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school/work, and at home);
- Evidence of clinically significant impairment is present in social, academic, or occupational functioning;
- Symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Disassociative Disorder, or Personality Disorder).
All children from time to time exhibit these behaviors, but these behaviors are not the exception, they are the rule for children with ADD/ADHD. One should not conclude that a child has this disorder until a proper evaluation is done on the child.
How do I know if my child has ADD or ADHD?
Getting an accurate diagnosis is a complicated process. Assessments must be conducted by well-trained professionals, such as developmental pediatricians, child psychologists, child psychiatrists or pediatric neurologists. You will want those who know a lot about ADD/ADHD and other disorders that have similar symptoms.
The diagnosis of ADD is determined on the basis of observable behavioral symptoms across multiple settings. The proper diagnostic evaluation includes the following:
- A thorough medical and family history
- A physical examination
- Interviews with the parents, the child, and the child’s teacher(s)
- Behavior rating scales completed by parents and teacher(s)
- Observation of the child
- A variety of psychological tests to measure I.Q. and social and emotional adjustment, as well as to indicate the presence of specific learning disabilities.
Typically children with ADD/ADHD behave appropriately in new situations. Thus, the trained professional knows not to make a diagnosis solely based on their time together. Medical tests such as EEGs or MRIs are not part of the routine evaluation. After the routine evaluation, the diagnostician makes one of three determinations:
- The child has ADD or ADHD (symptoms must be present before age 7).
- The child does not have ADD or ADHD, but difficulties are the result of another disorder or other factors.
- The child has ADD or ADHD and another disorder, which is called a co-existing condition.
After ruling out ADD or ADHD, other disorders that have symptoms of inattention usually have an onset after age 7. A child that has ADD often co-exists with other difficulties, especially learning disabilities, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder. There is a developing body of research linking fluoride with ADD/ADHD, whereas the fluoride contributes to the onset of the disorder. Thus, all elements must be taken into consideration to make sure the child’s difficulties are evaluated and managed in total.
Treatments for those with ADD or ADHD
Two important components must be present for the treatment of ADD or ADHD. One is psychotherapy, including both child and parents, or the adult with ADD or ADHD. The other is medication. In the past, medications were the focus. Much research has shown that medication alone won’t help address the main issues of ADD or ADHD. Medication may help alleviate some of the symptoms, but it doesn’t help address many of the core issues a child or adult has with ADD or ADHD. The individual with ADD or ADHD often needs to learn the skills to be successful while living with the disorder.
Individuals vary greatly in their response to medications. Finding a combination with the highest rate of success and the fewest side effects is a challenge in every case. It is normal to switch medications to find the ones that work best. Stimulant medications are usually prescribed. It is unknown how stimulant medications help the individual focus. It is hypothesized that people with ADD or ADHD have trouble with certain neurotransmitters that the medication helps correct.
Commonly prescribed medications include:
Commonly prescribed amphetamines include:
Medication side effects may include:
- reduced appetite
- jittery feeling
- sleep difficulties
- gastrointestinal upset
- increased blood pressure
- depression or anxiety
- psychosis or paranoia
It is unclear exactly why some medications help some people but not others. We do know that they work in most people who take them, effectively treating the symptoms of ADD or ADHD.
Although taking medications may seem risky, significant research demonstrates that when these medications are taken as directed, they are safe and effective in the treatment of ADD or ADHD in adults. Children are not known to get “high” from these drugs, but some may feel somewhat different. These drugs are not considered addicting. About 10% of people will not find relief from stimulant drugs. In these cases, other types of drugs, such as antidepressants may be tried. Newer types of drugs, Strattera and Vyvance, have been approved for the treatment of ADD or ADHD. These drugs offer benefits similar to stimulants, but act differently on the brain. Some people may tolerate these drugs better.
In addition to medication, emotional counseling, behavioral therapy, and practical support will help a person cope with ADD/ADHD and the disadvantages of the disorder. Parenting training is also an important component as well for children with ADD or ADHD. Parents should look for an ADHD coach or therapist with experience in helping parents of children with ADD/ADHD. Parent training exercises help the parents help their child with ADD/ADHD by keeping the child’s behavior on task and correcting in a positive, reinforcing manner.
Decades worth of research show the effectiveness of a wide range of psychotherapies for treating children and adults with ADD or ADHD. In psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is commonly used. In this model children can talk about upsetting thoughts and feelings, see self-defeating patterns of behavior, learn different ways to handle emotions, and feel better about themselves despite the disorder. They identify and build on their strengths, answer irrational or unhealthy thoughts, cope with daily problems, and learn to control their attention and aggression. In addition, psychotherapy will help boost self-esteem through improved self-awareness and compassion.
Behavioral therapy targets immediate issues. It focuses on thinking and coping patterns without trying to understand their causes. The goal is behavior change, such as organizing tasks better or dealing with emotionally charged situations when needed. The individual may be asked to monitor their own behavior and give themselves rewards for positive behavior.
Social skills training teaches the behaviors needed to develop and maintain good social relationships. These behaviors include:
- waiting for a turn
- asking for help
- choosing certain ways of responding to teasing
- having a conversation with others
- learning to see other’s perspectives
- asking questions
- the importance of eye contact
- what gestures and body language tells you
Children with ADD/ADHD have a harder time learning these skills or using them correctly. Social skills training takes place in a therapy office, or parents may learn the skills and teach them at home. The individual learns appropriate behaviors for different situations and new behaviors to practice with the therapist. Parents may also help by:
- Giving specific instructions
- Assigning tasks that the child is capable of doing on his or her own
- Involving the child in discussions about rules and routines
- Writing down routines as sequences of two to five tasks
- Being realistic about time
- Expecting gradual improvement
- Praising effort, not just results
- Allowing for free time in daily routines
- Enlisting your counselors help if the child isn’t taking to the routines
- Staying focused on the long term
ADD/ADHD and Why Integrated Learning Academy?
At Integrated Learning Academy, we are convinced that excellent cognitive skills are essential for paying attention and learning and we know that movement improves cognitive functioning. Furthermore, we know that intentional movements called brain gyms and reflex integration techniques are a medication free approach to helping your student with ADD/ADHD.
That’s why each session that we give our students is loaded with intentional movements called brain gyms, that build cognitive skills and attention skills at the very same time. Though Brain Gym movements by themselves can assist children and adults in improving ADD/ADHD symptoms while building whole-brain integration, the Brain Gym five-step balance process achieves the most outstanding results. Only trained brain gym specialists can guide you through a 5 step balance.
– has found that the pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain with the most impact on focus, attention, impulse control and decision-making. These are the very aspects of behavior that children and family members with ADD/ADHD characteristics find difficult
– has also determined that a high percentage of children or adults who exhibit ADD/ADHD type behavior have experienced ear infections, other illnesses food allergies,environmental and/or family stress. These experiences have led to blocked neural development for being able to hear and process auditory or visual information quickly and accurately.
These children find it difficult to hear, see and understand what is being communicated. Their auditory, visual or both systems are inefficient and slow in its processing. They simply are unable to take in information, process it and act upon it with ease. For instance, in a classroom situation, because they cannot understand the directions given by the teacher, they will become frustrated, either tuning out or acting out. The specific listening activities of Brain Gym stimulate the auditory systems of the brain, building neural nets through or around weak or blocked neural connections. As this occurs, children are more able to listen and act upon auditory input in an efficient and integrated manner. As they understand and act upon what they hear, learning and behavior improves.
The twenty-six movements and activities of Brain Gym can be applied to specifically strengthening the neural connections throughout the entire brain/central nervous system, including into and through the prefrontal cortex.
When more neural pathways are opened and developed into the prefrontal lobes through using brain gyms, , the individual’s mind/body system works with greater ease, synchronicity and harmony. Children are then better able to relax, focus, and attend to what is going on, control impulses, think about consequences and make good decisions. Parents notice that they, as well as their children become more calm, focused, and cooperative. Family members learn that when they relax, play and do integrative movement together, they change old, limiting patterns of interaction.
Another primary cause of fidgety, hyperactive behavior is due to an unintegrated reflex system. What is a reflex?
“A reflex is a genetic pattern of physiological function created by nature as a code and structure insuring nerosenroimotor development. Working with reflexes you touch the underlying net—– a net that serves like the infrastructure of a leaf or a building. A reflex is the informational unit for positive survival and gradual physical, emotional and cognitive development.” —Dr. Swetlana Masgutova
In the normal development of children, reflexes are matured or completed in a sequenced timeline If, however, the child fails to do enough crawling, or skips an important developmental process due to stress, illness or other even mild disruptions of this developmental timeline; a reflex or several reflexes can remains active, causing involuntary movements that interfere with the child gaining control over the body. For example, an immature STNR (Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex) makes it difficult for the child to sit still at a desk or chair and interferes with postures required for reading and writing. The child cannot relax, fidgets frequently and finds it very difficult to get comfortable. Often the child will slouch with legs straight out, sit in a chair with feet tucked under the body or hook their feet around the legs of the chair. These children squirm, are easily distracted and often do not finish their homework or put down any answer just to get done. The more failure they experience, the more they tend to avoid written work.
Struggling with ADD/ADHD in your household?
By doing Brain Gym activities, including patterning processes, and utilizing the MNRI (Masgutove Neurosensory Reflex Integration) Method of reflex integration, the crawling stage is soon completed and the STNR becomes integrated.
Subsequently, your child can sit still, focus, attend and complete written school much more quickly and comfortably.