ADHD FAQ – Find your answers to all you want to know about ADHD.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a condition that includes multiple behavioral aspects which present differently with every ADDer. Those aspects are summarized as Distractibility – the inability to keep attention on a specific task for a prolonged time – (Attention Deficit) Hyperactivity – Constant movement which can be either gross motor such as moving body parts back and forth or the urge to walk / run around, it can also be fine motor activity such as fidgeting and playing with small gadgets, and recent research added a third type of hyperactivity, brain hyperactivity, the constant nonstop bombardment of thoughts and ideas. Impulsivity – Acting before thinking such as blurting out in class, skipping ahead in lines, impulsive shopping or impulsively reacting to triggers by others. In recent research a complete new dimension was added to the ADHD diagnosis and treatment which is called Executive Functioning skills if the neurology of ADHD is well understood, EF fits right in.
Every person is born with a burning drive do perform and to achieve, is short, this drive is called stimulation, the brain also has a system to sense when an achievement has been obtained and so the drive is somewhat relaxed to allow the achievement action to take place and not to drive the person away from the thing he is in the middle of achieving, the Dopamine neurotransmitter does this function with what’s called the reward pathway, this means that whenever someone experiences a pleasurable experience, the dopamine levels in the brain, increase and as a result the brain understands that it is now satisfied, with ADDers, dopamine is not so readily available, and therefore the feeling of satisfied is not relayed as it is with other people, this causes the ADDer to always feel a desire for new stimulation and that causes him to be constantly drawn to new Interests, so even if he sets his attention on something he wants to do, the slightest distraction (which a non adder would switch off immediately) draws his attention away from what he was doing and thus he becomes interested in it until the next interesting distraction comes along and so on. The same thing explains hyperactivity, gross or fine motor movement is a form of stimulation, it stimulates the brain (think movement Vs boredom) so now we understand how ADHD and ADD are really the same but are expressed differently. The Impulsivity and EF portion of ADD have more to do with the prefrontal Cortex which is the brains stop sign to plan think before you take action, every person has a portion of the brain that has constant desires of all kinds such as food etc. but the prefrontal cortex is the stop sign that make the person think twice if it is worth to fill the desire against future consequences. With ADHD because this part of the brain doesn’t work as it should, inhibition and self regulation is a challenge.
There are some differences in the brain function and in brain maturity size in ADDers. ADDers brains lag about 2-3 years in development Vs. their non add peers. Also the neuro transmitters in ADDers lack certain capabilities that others have. The main known neuro transmitters that are affected are Dopamine which is responsible for movement, motivation and reward and in some ADDers Norepinephrine which is in charge of the Fight or Flight response. The known portion of the Brain that is affected by ADD is the prefrontal cortex which is the portion of the brain that is responsible for Long term planning, prioritization and inhibition.
As mentioned before ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADD is Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity. In the old school these two conditions were viewed as two separate diagnoses the first reserved for those fidgety kids who couldn’t sit still and the latter for kids who were distracted and couldn’t keep there focus, in the 1980s? based on the then available science the 2 were joined and for a while it was referred to as ADHD with hyperactivity and ADHD without hyperactivity, recent research had proven that the neurological core cause of these conditions is the same but they are expressed differently in other words those kids who are inattentive and distracted, it is because their minds are hyperactive and thoughts flow through constantly non stop which causes them to be distracted… so now everything is called ADHD but there are two subtypes of ADHD one is called ADHD predominantly Inattentive and the other is called ADHD predominantly Hyperactive. It should be noted that many times, kids from one type will have a few symptoms of the other type but because the majority of symptoms are of one type, it is referred to as such.
Based on research of identical twins and other thorough research it is believed today that genetics and pre-birth effects are the main cause of ADHD. It should be noted that Attention Deficit or Hyperactivity in school or at work can be caused by many factors, including brain injury, lack of proper sleep, hearing loss, vision problems, and even unstable conditions at home but most professionals would rule out all of these external causes before stamping a diagnosis of ADHD because, for these external causes, the treatment plan must address these external causes instead of just addressing the inattention by medication, treatment of ADHD by medication is reserved for situations in which there is a neurological cause for the inattention or hyperactivity.
The scientifically backed answer is NO. The current science community doesn’t know of a method to cure ADHD, all that they can do is Medication and behavioral change programs such as CBT or Coaching. It is worth to mention, that there are some brain exercise programs and physical exercise that can help to reduce or eliminate many of the symptoms that come with ADHD, my experience is that it does help alleviate some of the symptoms and I explain it by Neuroplasticity, but I have not yet seen FULL healing of ADHD from any such program.
Coaching for ADHD works from several directions to improve the life of ADDers and to actually make them excel and achieve their high potential which in many cases is very very high. Education, knowledge is power. Many ADDers are not aware of the “why” of their challenges, they stumble a lot and try to overcome the challenges but so long as they don’t know the root cause of the challenge, it is difficult to find the right solutions. By educating them and matching their challenge to a known ADD challenge, they can then use the many possible known solutions to their challenge. Boosting self esteem, before ADDers learn all about their unique brain wiring, they face many obstacles and dead ends, this can sometimes give them a feeling of inadequacy, coaching works to shine the spotlight on their possibilities and strengths so that they can look at themselves from a positive perspective and as a results they can strive to higher goals and achieve higher results Finding ways that work for his unique brain. Many of the challenges faced by ADDers are only challenges because they think they need to do things like everyone else does, since ADDers are wired differently, they need to do things differently as well. Coaching aims at finding new ways to look at things and to do things the way their brain works, these new ways are “out of the box” and when adopted make for a smooth road ahead.
The reward pathway is a term used by neurologists when discussing the many wonderful systems that the brain employs to desire, experience, feel and appreciate pleasure. The way the brain communicates with the emotional systems and the way the brain handles thoughts and desires is by creating and converting certain brain-chemical called neuro transmitters these chemicals are sent from one portion of the brain to different portions of the brain in a very complicated system which as a result, the person experiences all of his thoughts and feelings. Brain scientists have identified certain areas of the brain and certain brain chemicals that are responsible for the different tasks involved in pleasure, from the moment the person has a feeling of pleasurable desire, to after the pleasure has been experienced. This complex chain of events is referred to as the “Reward Pathway”.
As indicated earlier, it is known that the ADD brain is affected in the area of the Pre Frontal Cortex and in the neurotransmitter called Dopamine, these two are an integral part of the Reward Pathway, as a result, ADDers can sometimes experience different levels of pleasure than ordinary people. For example the amount of pleasure that would usually satisfy an ordinary person, would either not be enough for the ADDer to experience the same amount of pleasure or it may be too much, [e.g. he would have the same amount of pleasurable experience from a much lesser amount]. This is important to know because sometimes you could
Firstly, it is true that the understanding of ADHD became much more prevalent in recent years, and although it is still far from well understood by the general public, there is a greater awareness of ADHD at large and this may be contributing to the increase in actual diagnosis of ADHD, whereby the same child who, 40 years ago, would have been labeled obnoxious and unmanageable, today that child is better understood and as a result is better treated and given a better chance to prosper. It is believed that even today, only 15% of ADDers are actually diagnosed and treated, this explains how many years ago there were even less people diagnosed with ADHD although they may have had the same qualifications of the diagnostic criteria. It is also true, that in recent years the diagnostic criteria for ADHD was broadened to include some people who would not been covered by the previous criteria and as a result there is an increase in ADHD diagnoses, but here again, based on the better understanding of ADHD that we have today, it is believed that those who didn’t previously qualify for the diagnosis, should have qualified so again, there is no actual increase in the prevalence of ADHD but there is an increase in the population who are correctly diagnosed with ADHD. There are some theories that claim an actual increase in ADHD and that goes together with the underlying cause of ADHD which is not clear to date but these theories who believe that ADD is caused by external environmental causes such as the food we eat etc., they claim that there is a greater amount of ADDers today because of the increase of children who are fed the wrong diets….
ADHD was recognized as a condition as early as 1902 under different names such as “minimal brain dysfunction” in the 1950s and ADD in the 1980s, then came ADHD in the 1990s. The medication for ADHD Ritalin dates back to the 1930s (under a different name) and Ritalin first appeared in the 1950s, since then Ritalin was improved by adding long acting versions and other classes of ADD meds appeared, one other very common medication is Adderal which first appeared in the 1990s.
The first thing you must do when the Meds seam to stop working is to evaluate your situation, has there been any major changes in the routine of the child One major one is a ny change in school routines. Changed teacher, changed subjects, or timings. Then evaluate such as different Sleep patterns, different eating patterns or even changes in his bathroom activity. These can have a major impact on the effectiveness of the Meds. Whether or not there were any changes, you should discuss the new developments with the doctor who prescribed the medications till now [and hopefully he was a well recommended psychiatrist, otherwise please get a recommendation to one.]. ADHD medication is not an exact science and in most cases the initial prescription will not be the final one, it must me “titrated” e.g. adjusted in order to find the exact dosage for this particular person. Once the proper dosage was achieved, it will usually last for a long time and should not encounter any problems, if you do encounter problems, the dose may need to be adjusted up or down or a new type of meds may be tried. Because ADHD medication titration is a skill, it is very important to use a doctor who is well versed and up to date on the ins and outs of ADD meds.
Medically, the criterion for an addiction is 1) Tolerance; the person needs to continue increasing the dose in order to achieve the same effect, 2) compulsive seeking and use; the person continues to use the substance, despite harmful consequences, and 3) Withdrawal; if stopped, the person experiences withdrawal symptoms such as Depression, sadness, and anxiety or mood disorders . With ADHD medication none of the above Is true.
There are many organizations that support ADHD in children and adults such as CHADD and ADDA their website offers tons of information on ADHD, CHADD has a monthly magazine called Attention Magazine with news and updates in the ADHD field. Books, to list a few, Dr. Ed Hallowell who is himself ADHD and is a respected authority, authored several books on child and adult ADD, “Driven To Distraction” , “SUPER PARENTING FOR ADD” and “Answers To Distraction”, Dr Russell Barkley is the top clinical researcher in the US on ADHD he has a book Taking Charge of ADHD that is very informative.
That if you support them and allow them to grow the way they are intended, they will grow up happy functional and successful adults, but if you try to deal with them just like all other children, without attending to their specific needs, the damage is irreversible and they have a 9 in 10 chance to grow up problematic.
Sure, all you need to do, is to let him grow up supporting his unique brain wiring.