Approximately 9.5 percent of American children are afflicted with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although the term ADD (attention-deficit disorder) is still occasionally used, it is now considered by the medical community to be too broad.
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
While all children may at some point have trouble sitting still or paying attention, those with ADHD have a chemical imbalance within the brain that presents as a persistent and debilitating pattern of behavior. These behaviors can include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The diagnosis is made based on the child's age and developmental level and his or her symptoms. The symptoms must be present in a variety of settings and must interfere with daily life.
Those with inattentive ADHD are often easily distracted, forgetful and tend to ignore those who are speaking directly to them. They typically do not follow instructions, cannot stay organized and misplace items easily. This is the subtype that still occasionally receives the "ADD" label. Hyperactive or impulsive children are excessively "busy" - they talk constantly, squirm or get up from their seats, interrupt others and cannot focus on quiet play or activities such as silent reading. Some children display symptoms of all three subtypes.
While some children with ADHD respond well to medication, it is not considered a "cure" for the condition. When it is used in tandem with a healthy diet and clear and consistent bedtime and exercise routines, it seems to be more effective. Many patients are treated succesfully with non-medication options. Monitoring your child's ADHD treatment closely with your pediatrician will help determine the best course of action.