Attention Deficit Disorder Treatment
Children and adults may need attention deficit disorder treatment programs to help them appropriately cope within a structured school or work environment. The diagnostic terms of "attention deficit disorder" (ADD) and "attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder" (ADHD) are often used interchangeably, however the latter term is the one used in the current diagnostic manual. ADD may indicate someone who is or is not hyperactive and is sometimes referred to as the inattentive type of deficit disorder. ADD and ADHD are controversial because the diagnosis is based on behavior and symptoms rather than on specific physiological conditions. Additionally, many researchers, educators, and parents are concerned about the rising numbers of medications that are being prescribed to children. Researchers report that the number of boys being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD is significantly higher than the number of girls who are diagnosed with the disorder. In more recent years, more adults are being told that they have ADD or ADHD. But this basic question remains in many people's minds: is ADD or ADHD a legitimate medical condition? And if it is, is medication the most appropriate type of attention deficit disorder treatment, especially for young children?
It's a rare prescription medication that doesn't come with a long list of side effects. Researchers, educators, and parents need to ask themselves, on behalf of the children, if the cure is worse than the disease. The long term effects of prescription drug usage aren't really known, but researchers have discovered one disturbing trend: medicated children become adult drug addicts. As unwelcome as this news is, it can hardly be shocking. If children grow up being told by adults that they need a drug to cope with the world around them, then adults can hardly be surprised that these children continue to depend on drugs when they become adults themselves. This is a real, but unintended, consequence of using prescription drugs for attention deficit disorder treatment. Medicated children become medicated adults. Certainly, there are legitimate conditions that require a routine regimen of prescription drugs. But the addiction to drugs and the sheer numbers of children involved feed the controversy over using prescriptions to treat behavior and symptoms. It's sad to realize that a medicated child may no longer exhibit the symptoms that led to an ADD diagnosis, but to know that the child still has the learning disability or underlying behavioral issues indicated by the symptoms.
Some researchers are suggesting that there are other attention deficit disorder treatment plans that may alleviate symptoms without the use of drugs. Nutritionists have released research data that show modern children are actually addicted to sugar and refined flour in numbers much greater than previous generations. Nutritionists and other researchers suspect that excessive sugar and refined flour create physiological problems in developing bodies. Additionally, different food additives are of concern. Many children are known to have allergic reactions to additives that are designed to preserve food or to give food a certain color or look. When a child is having difficulties in school, the parent may want to evaluate the foods that the child is eating. It could be that changing the child's diet helps change the child's behavior. Some researchers also believe that toxic pollutants are at least partially to blame for the increase in ADD/ADHD diagnoses. Here again, a parent can evaluate a child's environment and take steps to protect the child from contaminants. Nutrition and environment are two important aspects of a multi-pronged attention deficit disorder treatment plan.
Jesus once said: "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea" (Mark 9:42). This is a strong warning to take care of children. Second-guessing a physician's diagnosis isn't necessarily wise, but when a doctor diagnoses a child with ADD/ADHD, the parent has an obligation to become as educated on this topic as possible. Instead of simply agreeing to an attention deficit disorder treatment program that includes prescription drugs, the parent needs to ask a lot of questions and do her own research on the latest findings concerning ADD/ADHD. She also needs to find out as much as possible about the drug that is being prescribed, including all side effects.
Adults sometimes seek attention deficit disorder treatment when they realize that it's difficult for them control their moods or to maintain positive relationships. Perhaps the affected adult showed external symptoms of ADD/ADHD as a child. What researchers have learned is that a maturing child learns coping mechanisms so, as an adult, the symptoms of ADD/ADHD are often internalized and become manifest through emotional difficulties. Impulsive behavior, boredom, and a tendency to procrastinate may be indications of adult ADD/ADHD. Of course, these may also be indications of a lack of maturity. It's important to note that researchers don't equate hormonal imbalances with adult ADD/ADHD. Hormonal imbalances indicate a physiological condition that is often treated with a prescription drug regimen. The medication assists the body to restore balance. An adult needs to be sure that a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is accurate before beginning an attention deficit disorder treatment. An adult may find that time management training helps with impulsivity and procrastination. The flip side of the negative tendencies is that many people with ADD/ADHD are energetic and creative risk-takers. Affected individuals may want to seek career counseling so that they can find vocations that appropriately channel their creativity and energy. This will help to alleviate boredom.
Attention Deficit SyndromeAn attention deficit syndrome is more commonly known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or AD/HD. This is a controversial diagnosis because the syndrome involves behavior instead of a tangible symptom. For example, if a young child breaks her leg, the physician can x-ray the broken limb and set it into a cast for healing. After several weeks, the leg operates as before. But a diagnosis of AD/HD is based on a checklist of different behaviors that have to do with such observations as the individual's ability to pay attention and level of hyperactivity. Though the diagnosis has been applied to children for a few decades, researchers are now applying it to adults, too. Where it was once thought that children outgrew the disorder, researchers now believe that the child simply learns coping mechanisms that help him to mask the behavioral symptoms of the attention deficit syndrome as he grows up. However, this doesn't mean that syndrome has gone away or that it doesn't continue to have an affect on the adult individual.
AD/HD affects boys much more often than girls. The disorder also is associated with certain learning disabilities that affect the child's reading and writing ability. The child may be diagnosed as being dyslexic, which means that he sees the letters in a word in a different order than they actually appear. However, that is a simplistic explanation and dyslexia is more complex than that. The inability to adjust to a classroom environment, either because of a learning disability or the difficulty of sitting in one place for long periods of time, is one indication of attention deficit syndrome. Some people believe that the increase in AD/HD patients would be reduced by providing more play time at school. In previous generations, school children often had recess two or three times a day. Today's school children seldom get the opportunity for unstructured play. Should educators and parents be surprised, then, that little boys get restless sitting in hard chairs when their bodies were made for running and jumping?
Some researchers attribute the rise in attention deficit syndrome to, at least in part, poor nutrition. Today's child eats more sugar and refined flour than her parents and grandparents did. Fast foods and food additives also contribute to poor nutrition in today's youth. The rate of obesity in U.S. children is rising at an alarming rate. The kids are eating poorly and aren't exercising nearly enough. Here again, a lack of recess may be contributing to the children's poor health. The apostle Peter once wrote: "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; . . . Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:13, 16). Adults need to ask themselves if the educational environment is doing more harm than good to our children. How does poor nutrition and lack of exercise injure young bodies? How are their imaginations and creativity being stifled because of a lack of unstructured play and recess? Are these factors adding to the increase in attention deficit syndrome among young children?
Some researchers say that poor nutrition and lack of play time has nothing to do with AD/HD. They cite studies that indicate an imbalance in neurochemicals in the brain for those who are diagnosed with the disorder. Additionally, some studies suggest that the disorder can be inherited. Perhaps this is true for some individuals. Yet the effects of poor nutrition and too much structure can't be completely ruled out as having an adverse affect on many children. Another controversial factor is ineffective parenting. Researchers should not close their eyes to the role some parents have in not teaching their offspring to behave appropriately. These children may not have an attention deficit syndrome except in the sense that they lack appropriate parental attention. Parents have a responsibility to teach children to have good manners and positive social skills. A child who lacks such teaching may find it difficult to interact with other children and adults.
Another controversy that surround attention deficit syndrome is the excessive use of prescription medications that are given to children who are diagnosed with the disorder. Studies are finding that children who take medications to cope with their behavior are more likely to become drug addicts as adults than those who don't take daily medications during childhood. Though some children, especially those with properly diagnosed hormonal imbalances, may benefit from medication, many children are being drugged for the convenience of the adults in their lives. Instead of resorting to medications, new studies and innovative researchers are looking at the positive side of those diagnosed with AD/HD. These researchers are viewing AD/HD patients as creative, intelligent, intuitive individuals who have a lot to offer society. They are questioning whether it's not society and the restrictions of mass education that create attention deficit syndrome in young children. Here again, hard questions need to be asked. Is individual imagination and creativity being stifled instead of encouraged in classroom settings? When a teacher has to monitor twenty or thirty squirming little bodies, how can she possibly ensure each child gets needed attention and the proper outlet for energy? Is it time to re-think how society teaches children and look for more innovative methods that reflect new understanding that not every child has the same type of intelligence? As research continues, those interested in the education of children can only hope so.