Specific problem areas might include combinations of an inability to listen, to think, speak, write, read, spell, or engage in mathematics, as most of children with ADHD reported. It may involve dyslexia, which is an impaired ability to read or write, causing the individual to reverse words or letters. In some cases, it could be aphasia, or difficulty in speech or in understanding the spoken word. Attention deficit disorder is much more serious then we once thought.
Frequently, children with ADD/ADHD characteristics also exhibit emotional instability at the same time. They display outbursts ranging from excitement to extreme anger. These children are expressing an enormous challenge for parents and educators who are not equipped to handle such situations. In distress, parents seek the advice of family physicians where the doctor, because of a lack of expertise in this field, frequently prescribes drugs in an attempt to corral the explosive behavior and decrease the learning handicap.
Diagnosis of ADD
Some children have more trouble paying attention in class and completing academic assignments than others. It is thought that from three to ten percent of the population has a condition known as attention deficit disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. This disorder is present more often in boys than in girls. Not every student having trouble completing assignments, or is squirmy and disruptive in class, has ADD. This is particularly true in the lower grades where many of the students have not reached a required level of maturity. Some studies have found that a first grade teacher may rate as many as 50% of the boys in the class as having ADD using common clinical questionnaires. Thus, educators may mislabel behavior as being abnormal when it actually may be within the low end of normal development in child. Actually, normal attention span seems to develop in three stages for most of the children.
* First, the child’s attention is overly exclusive, which is a term used by psychologists to describe attention focused on a single object for a long period. It happens that these children tune out all other stimuli. An example of this would be a baby who focuses totally on a button or a pin on the clothing of the person holding him, and not on the person herself. A child whose attention becomes stuck at this stage of development might have autism.
* Second, a child’s attention develops to a point where it is overly inclusive. This refers to a very wide span of attention, constantly and rapidly changing from one object to another. This is something like a toddler who is running from one toy to the next, never able to stay with any one toy for any period. A child who is stuck at the second stage of attention span development might have ADD.
* Third, the child develops selective attention where he/she is able to shift focus at will from being inclusive to being very exclusive, as a mature pattern of attention and concentration required to be successful in a classroom-learning environment. There is a variety of causes for poor attention, concentration, and impulse control, varying from child to child. A partial list would include immaturity and slow psychological development, anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities such as dyslexia. In some children, the cause could be low thyroid, low motivation, and lack of sufficient sleep, poor nutrition, or boredom due to a lack of challenge.