According to epidemiological data, approximately 4% to 6% of the U.S. population has ADHD. ADHD usually persists throughout a person's lifetime. It is NOT limited to children. Approximately one-half to two-thirds of children with ADHD will continue to have significant problems with ADHD symptoms and behaviors as adults. ADHD will impact their lives on the job, within the family, and in social relationships.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. Its core symptoms include developmentally inappropriate levels of attention, concentration, activity, distractibility, and impulsivity. Children with ADHD usually have functional impairment across multiple settings including home, school, and peer relationships. ADHD has also been shown to have long-term adverse effects on academic performance, vocational success, and social-emotional development.

Despite the progress in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of children and adults with ADHD, the disorder has remained controversial. The diverse and conflicting opinions about ADHD have resulted in confusion for families, care providers, educators, and policy makers

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

ADHD is a syndrome generally characterized by inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It is further categorized into three subtypes: behavior marked by hyperactivity and impulsivity but not inattentiveness; behavior that is marked by the reverse characteristics; and a mixed type. A diagnosis of ADHD can be applied to children and adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common core features include:

  • Distractibility (poor sustained attention to tasks)
  • Impulsivity (impaired impulse control and delay of gratification)
  • Hyperactivity (excessive activity and physical restlessness)
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is similar to ADHD except that the victims do not have the excessive activity. ADD can be just as detrimental to a person's social and educational development as ADHD.

What Causes ADHD?

ADHD is NOT caused by poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, too much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar. One early theory was that attention disorders were caused by minor head injuries or damage to the brain, thus for many years ADHD was called "minimal brain damage" or "minimal brain dysfunction." The vast majority of people with ADHD have no history of head injury or evidence of brain damage.

There is a great deal of evidence that ADHD runs in families, which is suggestive of genetic factors. If one person in a family is diagnosed with ADHD there is a 25% to 35% probability that any other family member also has ADHD, compared to a 4% to 6% probability for someone in the general population.

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