Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADD/ADHD, is characterized by the inability of a person to control their behavior or maintain focus for extended periods of time. ADHD usually becomes apparent in childhood, sometimes showing up as early as preschool, but adults can also discover that they are dealing with ADHD. While most children will have the symptoms associated with ADHD to some degree, children with ADHD will display these symptoms to the point that their disorder impairs their ability to function at school, home, and in social relationships with other children. Their difficulty controlling impulsive and disruptive behavior can often cause trouble in the classroom, and their inability to focus can seriously affect their academic performance.
The symptoms associated with ADHD include:
- Always “on the go” or constantly in motion.
- Dashing about, touching or playing with whatever is in sight.
- Incessant talking.
- Have excessive difficulty sitting still, often fidgeting or squirming in their seat.
- Starting many projects but rarely finishing them.
- Often becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds.
- Often failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes.
- Losing things often.
- Regularly acting or speaking impulsively without thinking about possible outcomes.
- Often interrupting others during conversation.
- Excessive difficulty waiting in line or taking turns.
- Blurting out answers before hearing the whole question.
- Excessive time spent daydreaming or “spacing out.”
Children with ADHD often take much longer than other children to complete school projects and homework because of distractions. Adults with ADHD can find that they experience the same difficulties at work, often having to work extra hours to compensate for their lack of focus and concentration.
Most people experience some of these symptoms at some time or another. Because of this, a diagnosis of ADHD requires that such behavior be demonstrated to a degree that is inappropriate for the person’s age, create a real handicap in the person’s functioning, and continue for a duration of at least 6 months.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 2 million children in the United States are dealing with ADHD. After receiving a diagnosis of ADHD, many of these children are prescribed medication to handle their disorder. There are other options available including psychotherapy, behavior modification techniques, and natural alternatives to boost cognitive functions such as attention span and mental clarity.