What is ADD/ADHD?
ADD/ADHD is a neuro-behavioral disorder. There are lower than normal levels of certain neuro-transmitters eg Dopamine within the areas of the brain that are responsible for regulating behaviour and attention. I can talk A LOT about Dopamine and what is meant to do but I won’t because this post will be too long, so here’s a link that explains Dopamine in all its glory. I looked all over the internet for something more straightforward but alas, that was the only one I could fine. Also, there are significantly lower levels of Serotonin present which results in poor behaviour control and more risk-taking. There would thus be a higher need for external stimuli as well as frequent praise.
Approximately 5% of children globally are affected and start displaying symptoms before the age of 7.
In other words, ADHD is a cluster of symptoms with a consistent pattern of:
- Short attention span
- Higher than normal levels of distractibility
- Abnormal Impulsivity
- Hyperactivity – many kids are busy but trust me, as a Mother you would KNOW if there is more to the busy-ness than meets the eye.
- Poor concentration
ADHD is not:
- Unintelligence or even a learning disability, though learning disabilities can be a co-morbid condition. I’ll be doing a post on the co-morbids later this week.
- Something to be embarrassed about (well, this is what I am teaching my son because really, it is what it is and he wouldn’t be embarrassed if he was diabetic or asthmatic or epileptic or something)
- Poor parenting – although poor parenting where there is a clear lack of boundaries and discipline CAN make it a lot worse
When I try to explain to people what ADD/ADHD is, then I usually use the analogy of depression. Everyone feels depressed or bleh or out of sorts from time to time. To “get over” this feeling, some people can get away with eating a chocolate or going for a run or praying or meditating or having a glass of wine. However, the folks who are TRULY depressed often need to medicate and go for intensive therapy and make significant changes in their lives in order to effect the brain chemistry.
The same with ADD/ADHD. We all go through periods of distractibility or periods when we are simply unable to focus on or complete a task. Mostly we can give ourselves a pep talk or re-prioritise or just get down and DO IT ALREADY!
The person with ADD/ADHD REALLY battles to do this. In fact, me telling Child1 to FOCUS and stop bouncing off the walls is like telling someone in a wheelchair to stop acting disabled and just get up and walk already!
Tomorrow I will focus on primary and secondary symptoms of ADD/ADHD but in the meantime answer this question for me:
When you read what I have written so far, do you recognise any kids or even adults in your life that you think could possibly have ADD/ADHD bearing in mind that a lot of those symptoms can be indicators of other issues at play?