What is ADHD

Few learning disabilities have become as prevalent and well known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Many people have even begun to question the many diagnoses of this disorder, as it seems to plague millions of children around the world and even countless adults. Some will even go so far as to say that anyone suffering from excessive hyperness or an inability to focus has ADHD, while others claim that the disorder is nothing but an excuse for parents and individuals who just aren’t working hard enough.

So just what is ADHD? There are few people in the world who have not at least heard this term or have at least a vague idea what it means. ADHD is an officially recognized psychological disorder and learning disability. This means that it has a clinical definition and individuals can be tested by a clinical psychologist to determine whether or not they have this disability. There are a range of behaviors and symptoms that are commonly seen in even healthy individuals, but in an ADHD diagnosed individual they will be very prevalent and debilitating.

Since its official recognition, it is possible that doctors have “over-diagnosed” the disorder- meaning that a doctor may identify it in an individual who simply needs help getting out excessive energy and removing distractions. It is common for newly recognized disorders to see a spike in diagnoses before it peters off as doctors and patients both build a greater understanding of the disorder and therefore produce more accurate test results.

The numerous diagnoses of children with this disorder are especially alarming, and great care should be taken before saying a child has ADHD. Children are naturally hyper, extremely active, and unfocused. Their natural energy can cause problems if they are not given adequate exercise and “free time”, much like a large dog kept cooped up indoors all day. If children are not getting sufficient stimulation, parents and doctors may assume ADHD is involved when the problem is nothing more than natural behaviors.

To adequately identify whether or not a child has ADHD, attempts should be made to first exhaust the child, then see if they still suffer from excessive hyper activity and/or an inability to focus. A child who truly suffers from ADHD will exhibit a number of impulsive behaviors that they simply cannot get under control. This will result in problems completing school work, following simple instructions, maintaining organization, being still for extended periods of time, or practicing patience or memory retention.

There are several medications that can be used to treat ADHD, but as with diagnosis, extreme care must be taken in deciding which medication to prescribe. Different medications work differently in different individuals, and there is no guarantee that a certain medication will be helpful. The wrong medication could even exacerbate the condition. Counseling and therapy are often requirements for those diagnosed with ADHD, and it is sometimes possible to correct the major problems of the disorder through therapy without taking any medication. This is not always true though, and often medications and therapy must work together to provide relief. The disorder cannot be cured- an individual with ADHD will always have ADHD, but they can learn to cope with it and limit their impulsiveness.

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