Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that can have a severe impact on the lives of affected patients as well as on their parents and families.
It is more common in boys than girls. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), it affects approximately 5% of children, and almost 50% of them will carry those symptoms into adulthood.
Usually, the capacity to control symptoms like impulsivity improves with time, however, not everybody with this condition will ”grow out of it.”
Signs of impulsivity
- interrupts or intrudes on others’ games or conversations;
- runs into the street without looking;
- speaks and acts without thinking;
- has trouble standing in line or waiting his turn;
- blurts out answers before the whole question has been asked.
Signs of inattention
- loses important items or things required for activities and tasks, like – school assignments, toys, books, or pencils;
- strongly dislikes or avoids tasks (like – hames or homework) that need sustained mental effort;
- has problems organizing tasks and other activities;
- fails to finish chores or schoolwork (but not out of failure to understand or rebellion);
- doesn’t obey instructions or follow-through;
- forgets things;
- is easily distracted from play and tasks;
- has difficulty listening to what’s being said to him;
- has trouble focusing his attention;
- makes careless mistakes in schoolwork;
- has a hard time paying attention to details.
Signs of hyperactivity
- often climbs or runs about in situations where it’s inappropriate;
- has trouble playing quietly;
- talks too much;
- leaves his seat in situations where he’s expected to stay put;
- seems to be in constant motion.
As they grow older, some children who have had ADHD since childhood may have periods of depression or anxiety. When there are more demands at home or school, the symptoms may get worse.
Note – the above signs may be observed in many children frequently and typically do not mean the child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, it is when his/her behavior undermines his/her social life and school, plus, when these signs become considerably more pronounced in one child, compared to other children of the same age.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but it has been shown to run in families. Other factors which have been suggested as potentially having an important role in this condition include:
- certain components of the diet, especially food additives;
- being born prematurely;
- postnatal trauma to the prefrontal areas of the brain;
- high levels of lead in the blood. Lead may be found in a variety of places, particularly in homes built before 1978;
- excessive stress may also play a small role in the development of this condition;
- alcohol, smoking, or drug abuse during pregnancy;
- having a low birth weight.
Drugs are commonly prescribed for ADHD, however, it might not be the best option for the patient. Play and exercise, proper nutrition, support at home, and learning better social skills are all part of a complete treatment plan which, ultimately, can improve your child’s relationships with others, improve performance at school, and decrease frustration and stress.
This condition can make life difficult for the sufferer. Also, it has been associated with:
- suicide attempts;
- poor work or school performance;
- poor self-image;
- poor mental and physical health;
- unstable relationships;
- frequent car accidents or other accidents;
- alcohol or other substance abuse;
- troubles with the law;
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS)
It was first recognized as a diagnostic entity by the APA in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV. However, the diagnosis of AS was removed in the 2013 fifth edition of the DSM-5, which combined the diagnosis of autistic disorder into one condition called autism spectrum disorder.
AS is considered to be the mildest form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and people who have it are deemed to be high functioning. More importantly, unlike individuals with ASD, those with AS do not show a marked delay in cognitive development or language development.
In 1940, this syndrome was first described by Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician, who observed autism-like difficulties and behaviors with communication and social skills in boys who had normal language and intelligence development.
Note – if you have AS, you have it for life – it is not a disease or an illness and cannot be cured.
It affects males around 4 times more than females. Also, it affects between 0.03 to 4.84 in every 1,000 people. In the US, it is estimated that approximately 1 percent of the population of children ages 3 to 17 have an ASD. Worldwide, an estimated 38 million people have AS.
Note – doctors say that this syndrome follows a continuous course and typically lasts a lifetime. Nevertheless, the following symptoms can decrease and increase over time, and early intervention treatment can be very helpful. Common signs and symptoms include:
- many individuals with this condition find it hard to recognize other people’s feelings;
- individuals with this syndrome are unable to read body language and facial expressions;
- a child with AS may develop an almost obsessive interest in a few areas, like – weather, sports statistics, or maps;
- someone with AS might speak too loud and not understand when “shushed;”
- it is frequent for individuals with this syndrome to avoid eye contact when speaking with other people;
- a child with AS may develop rituals that she or he refuses to alter, like – getting dressed in a specific order; a surprise change in routine can occasionally cause anxiety;
- under- or over-sensitivity to touch, sounds, smells, tastes, colors, light, pain, or temperatures.
The exact cause for AS remains a mystery, but experts generally believe that a variety of environmental, genetic, and physical risk factors may lead to the development of AS.
Your healthcare professional might need to try many therapies to find one that works. For instance, an effective treatment program builds on the child’s interests, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps, and offers a predictable schedule as well as it provides regular reinforcement of behavior.
ADHD vs Aspergers – Differences
AS is a neurobiological disorder on the higher-functioning end of the ASD. People affected may use high-level vocabulary in conversation, but most develop an obsessive interest in one object or topic.
On the other hand, ADHD is the most frequently diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. Its primary symptoms include developmentally inappropriate levels of concentration, attention, distractibility, activity, and impulsivity.
Images source – Shutterstock & Getty
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References https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15909404 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-004-1996-4