Understanding ADHD: Symptoms and Causes

ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition where a person finds it difficult to control his behavior and/or to pay attention. This condition usually becomes apparent in children during the period between preschool and early school years. ADHD is a behavioral problem which is caused by a genetic dysfunction. It is not caused by poor child rearing, as others might think.

Common Symptoms of Children with ADHD

Children with ADHD usually manifest inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms can be observed early in a child’s life. However, these symptoms are not conclusive, for they are not exclusively found among ADHD patients. Such symptoms are shared by ADHD with other disorders; thus, it is important that an able physician run tests on the child in order to be able to make an accurate diagnosis of his ailment.

The symptoms of ADHD may not manifest themselves all at one time. They may gradually reveal themselves, sometimes, over the course of many months. Sometimes, the symptoms may not even show itself until the lapse of a few years. Other symptoms may appear only because of certain stimuli or settings, which demand certain self-control on the part of the child.

Also, psychological considerations should also be ruled out first before concluding the existence of an ADHD. For example, a child can only have a discipline problem when he acts differently from other children in his class, and not necessarily an ADHD.

Thus, it is only in extreme cases such as when the child’s hyperactivity and poor concentration already starts to affect his performance in school, social relationships with other children, or behavior at home that ADHD may be suspected.

There is another difficulty in determining whether a child does have ADHD or not. ADHD, by nature, is not easy to diagnose. This is caused by the fact that the symptoms vary so much across settings, and that it shares these symptoms with many other types of psychological disorder. Thus, the assistance of an expert psychiatrist or pediatrician cannot be overemphasized, especially during the early detection of the disorder.

What are the Common Causes?

It would be in the best interest of parents with children who have ADHD or who are worried about their children having the disorder to know what causes it. Such knowledge would furnish them with the preparation against it that will enable them to avoid such possible causes.

Studies have yielded many results as to the possible causes of ADHD; thus, it is impossible to pinpoint one particular cause which overshadows them all. Some factors are external, meaning they are outside the body mechanisms of the person; some are internal, meaning they are caused by factors which occur or have a relation to the body’s processes or organs.

One of the possible external causes of ADHD is the so-called environmental agents. These include the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy. Studies have shown that there is a high risk that mothers who smoke or drink alcohol will give birth to children with ADHD. Thus, it is best for mothers to refrain from doing both. Another external factor could be a child’s exposure to paint with high levels of lead, which causes toxic levels of lead to be found inside the child’s body. Therefore, it would be best if parents would tell their children to keep away from paint, plumbing, or other objects which might contain high levels of lead.

Examples of internal causes could be having brain injury, although only a relatively weak amount of evidence has been found to support this theory. Another could be a child’s introduction to food additives and refined sugar, which substances are believed to cause children increased hyperactivity.

Still another possible internal cause is genetics. This is bolstered by the fact that attention disorders are often observed to run in families. This study is actually relevant, particularly to parents who blame themselves for the disorder of the child, thinking that it was their fault. Although such is possible, it cannot be discounted that there might be other factors at play which should not be blamed on the parents. This is a positive supposition, since pointing fingers will accomplish nothing but further prevent the early treatment of the disorder.