The term attention deficit is often misleading. In general, the current predominating theories suggest that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), actually have difficulty regulating their attention.
They have difficulty inhibiting or changing their attention away from nonrelevant stimuli. They have a talent for focusing too intensely on specific stimuli to the exclusion of other things, even if those other things are more relevant.
In one sense, rather than too little attention, many persons with ADHD (ADD) pay too much attention to too many things at once, leading them to have a reduced ability to focus on a particular task, or carry it through to the end.
Three basic forms of ADHD (ADD) are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV), the reference manual for the American Psychiatric Association (APA). These forms are;
- 1) attentional;
- 2) hyperactive/impulsive; and
- 3) combined, which is most frequently a combination of attentional and hyperactive forms.
The 6 major tasks of executive function that are most commonly distorted with ADHD (ADD) include;
- 1) shifting from one mindset or strategy to another (ie, flexibility),
- 2) organisation (eg, anticipating both needs and problems),
- 3) planning (eg, goal setting),
- 4) working memory (ie, receiving, storing, then retrieving information within short-term memory),
- 5) separating affect from cognition (ie, detaching one's emotions from one's reason), and
- 6) inhibiting and regulating verbal and motoric action (eg, jumping to conclusions too quickly, difficulty waiting in line in an appropriate fashion).
Contrary to some media accounts, ADHD (ADD) is not new, it simply went unrecognised and therefore undiagnosed. In the early 1900s, diagnosis emphasised the hyperactivity component. Today, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are the areas of focus.
Children with ADHD may have a greater likelihood for learning difficulties and adults may have anti-social or criminal tendencies. Both are of concern to a caring society.
However, throughout medical history, clinical reports have alluded to disorders involving hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention in conjunction with distractibility and inappropriate arousal patterns. Symptoms we recognise today as being part of ADHD
What is new?
The increased awareness and recognitionof ADHD (ADD). This has prompted new research and therefore greater collaborative efforts and sharing of research findings amongst the clinical community.
The addition of ADHD in the much aclaimed DSM took place in 1980, and this was a clear and positive sign of acceptance and growing interest, which is continuing today.
The future for ADHD sufferers should bring better and more effective treatment, based on greater understanding of this debilitating condition.
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