The teen years are challenging for most children and it is harder for the ones with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. All the adolescent problems like peer pressure, academic and social anxiety and low self-esteem are harder for a teen with ADHD to handle. The desire to be independent, to try new and forbidden things such as alcohol, drugs, and sexual activity can lead to unforeseen consequences. The rules that once were, for the most part, followed, are often now flaunted. Parents may not agree with each other on how the teenager’s behavior should be handled, but nevertheless, it should be.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neuro-biological disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and the inability to remain focused on tasks or activities. It is also known as hyperkinetic disorder (HKD) outside of the United States. The name AD/HD reflects the various behaviors of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness that characterize the disorder.
It affects approximately 3–7 percent of school-aged children, and seems to afflict boys more often than girls. And, of the 3–7 percent of school-aged children with AD/HD, some will have a reduction of symptoms as they reach adulthood. However, 65 percent of AD/HD children will continue to display characteristics of AD/HD through adulthood.
The exact cause or causes of ADHD are not known but their have been many researches and studies that have been conducted about it. These studies have resulted in a number of theories that may explain the causes of ADHD. Some of the most popular ones are:
Studies have shown a possible correlation between the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy and risk for ADHD in the offspring of that pregnancy. As a precaution, it is best during pregnancy to refrain from both cigarette and alcohol use.
One early theory was that attention disorders were caused by brain injury. Some children who have suffered accidents leading to brain injury may show some signs of behavior similar to that of ADHD, but only a small percentage of children with ADHD have been found to have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Food Additives and Sugar
It has been suggested that attention disorders are caused by refined sugar or food additives, or that symptoms of ADHD are exacerbated by sugar or food additives. In 1982, the National Institutes of Health held a scientific consensus conference to discuss this issue. It was found that diet restrictions helped about 5 percent of children with ADHD, mostly young children who had food allergies. A more recent study on the effect of sugar on children, using sugar one day and a sugar substitute on alternate days, without parents, staff, or children knowing which substance was being used, showed no significant effects of the sugar on behavior or learning.
Attention disorders often run in families, so there are likely to be genetic influences. Studies indicate that 25 percent of the close relatives in the families of ADHD children also have ADHD, whereas the rate is about 5 percent in the general population. Many studies of twins now show that a strong genetic influence exists in the disorder.
Though the exact causes are not yet clear, the treatment of ADHD shows great promise. The use of medication, such as psycho-stimulants and anti-depressants, in combination with behavioral interventions, classroom accommodations, and proactive parents provide the best treatment option.