What is ADHD

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder characterized by hyperactivity and inattention. ADHD is prevalent among children and is known to affect those who have it well into adulthood. According to the American Psychology Association, around 5% of children in America have ADHD.

The seriousness of ADHD is that it can severely affect a child's ability to focus and control of their behavior and if gone unchecked and untreated, can severely inhibit an adults ability to work efficiently.

ADHD is most commonly identified among children. The average ADHD diagnosis is 7 years of age, but severe cases have been reported earlier. A child with ADHD might:

  • make careless mistakes frequently
  • forget or lose things frequently
  • squirm or fidget
  • get easily distracted
  • have trouble organizing activites
  • have a hard time resisting temptation
  • not listen when spoken to directly
  • have difficulty getting along with others

It is normal for children to have difficulty focusing and behaving from one time to another. However, where an adult can tell if their child has ADHD is whether these symptoms are more severe, occur more often, and interfere with the quality of how they function socially or at school.

Executive Function

Many of ADHD symptoms of inattention are actually impairments of the brain's executive function. The executive function refers to a large range of central control processes in the brain that activate, integrate, and manage other brain functions.

Those who have ADHD will struggle with the following executive functions:

  • working memory and recall (holding facts in mind while manipulating information; accessing facts stored in long-term memory)
  • activation, arousal and effort (getting started; paying attention; completing work)
  • emotion control (tolerating frustration; thinking before acting or speaking)
  • internalizing language (using self-talk to control one's behavior and direct future actions)
  • complex problem solving (taking an issue apart, analyzing the pieces, reconstituting and organizing them into new ideas)

Causes of ADHD

According to the Center for Disease Control, scientists are still uncertain what is the cause(s) of ADHD. Research does show that genetics plays an important role however. Research also shows that commonly held beliefs of ADHD causes like eating too much sugar, watching too much television, parenting, or social and environmental factors such as poverty or family chaos are not major causes. While those things can make it worse, it is certainly not proven to be a cause of the disorder.