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Are We Paying Attention or is Ritalin Mothers Little Helper

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are increasingly being discussed interchangeably. It has captured the attention of researchers everywhere. With this disorder there exist prevailing evaluations, and positive reinforcements, behavior modifications which impact children with special needs. Often times, behavior is associated with learning, for example, out of seat behavior and hyperactivity. The various learning problems, theories, diagnosis, and conventional views of the disorder will be addressed.

Testing is being done using psychological in conjunction with and without medication for the treatment of ADD. The widespread use of a controversial drug, Ritalin, and the possible side effects on children are being researched. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American psychiatric Association, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) has been diagnosed in epidemic proportions. (Hallowell, Ratey, 1994 Pref). Over the past fifteen years there has been an increase in the diagnosis of ADD.

In a report written by Louise Palmer (Star Tribune, Jan 30, 1994 1E+), she writes that doctors, psychologist and social workers say that a media blitz has turned ADD into the buzzword for the 90s, the catchall for overly anxious kids. Members of the community now suspect that a disturbing trend is emerging. One Doctor, Eugene Arnold, a researcher at the National Institute of Health says ADD is rising, and there are many others who join in his sentiments. (Star Tribune, Jan 30, 1994 1E+). The media has created a controversy by questioning the reality and extent of ADD, medication for, and over diagnosis of this inherited neurological syndrome.

It is estimated that there are over two million children in the United States diagnosed as having this disorder (Newsweek, Mar 18, 1996 pp. 50-56, Psychology Annual edition 1998. 191). This disorder is characterized by behavior that is disruptive and disturbing to others in the childs environment. Children with ADD have a difficult time paying attention, and staying focused. They are least interested in routine tasks and quickly tire of them. In addition, they are impulsive, fidgety restless, and overly active, when it calls for quiet and subdued behavior.

While it is generally difficult for the child to remain on task the child he is chastised for his lack of motivation (Ingersoll, Goldstein, 1993). Children growing up with ADD have problems in school and that is where it is first noticed, because the environment requires the student to sit still and concentrate on material the child usually finds boring. Because of their lack of self-restraint they are often looked upon as a negative force in the classroom. Most ADD kids are generally smart, not to say that some could be below average, but only 10 to 15% of children have a learning disability along with ADD (Phelan, 1993 pg. ).

As a result of the problems, as well as not being properly diagnosed, most children are destined to be underachievers, and learn at an early age not to like school. Children with attention problems face a challenge in todays schools. Not only are the children coping with teachers and even parents who do not understand ADD. Parents frequently receive calls from the teacher about the childs behaviors (they cause problems in the classroom when it takes for the child to stay focused. ) They need more attention than average children do which bewilders the teacher.

They complain to parents about unsuccessful attempts to discipline the child, and often feel at a loss to provide a meaningful educational experience. These teachers end up labeling these children as lazy, unmotivated, or underachievers. This means the child is penalized for his attention deficits. Just as they may be the constant disruption in the classroom, homelife unfortunately produces other general discipline problems, being noisy, sibling rivalry, while most times the child with ADD is the instigator. There have been a variety of terms used to describe this condition.

These terms include minimal brain damage or dysfunction (Hallowell, Rathy, 1994 pg. 10). This disorder could affect adults as well as children, although children are the biggest concern. ADD can be grouped into three categories: Attention problems, impulsitivity, and overactive motor activity. Sometimes all three are not always present, but the majority of the time children diagnosed with ADD have all three symptoms. ADD may be caused from brain injury or abnormal brain development resulting from trauma, disease, fetal exposure to alcohol and tobacco (Barkley, 1992). Research shows heredity is a factor.

Twenty-five percent of parents of ADD children also have been diagnosed with ADD (Barkley, 1995). Other scientist suggest that certain neurotransmitters, chemical in the brain that permit nerve cells to transmit information to others cell are deficient in these with ADD (Barkley, 1995, pg. 58). ADD is diagnosed in a multifaceted approach through a variety of test and evaluations. The American Psychiatric Association has guidelines about how psychologist can make a diagnosis (Annual Review of Psychology, 1987, pg. 497), and serve as a step towards identifying the assessment and treatment of ADHD.

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