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Attention- Deficit Disorder

Psychological Disorder

Also Known as: Hyperactivity Disorder (Hyperkinetic Disorders)

ADHD or ADD is characterized by a majority of the following symptoms being present in either category (inattention or hyperactivity). These symptoms need to manifest themselves in a manner and degree which is inconsistent with the child's current developmental level. That is, the child's behavior is significantly more inattentive or hyperactive than that of his or her peers of a similar age:

Persisting for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and immature, the patient has either inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity (or both) as shown by:

Inattention. At least 6 of the following often apply:

Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless errors in schoolwork, work or other activities.

Has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play.

Doesn't appear to listen when being told something.

Neither follows through on instructions nor completes chores, schoolwork, or jobs (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand).

Has trouble organizing activities and tasks.

Dislikes or avoids tasks that involve sustained mental effort (homework, schoolwork).
Loses materials needed for activities (assignments, books, pencils, tools, toys).

Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.


Hyperactivity-Impulsivity. At least 6 of the following often apply:

Squirms in seat or fidgets.

Inappropriately leaves seat.

Inappropriately runs or climbs (in adolescents or adults, the may be only a subjective feeling of restlessness).

Has trouble quietly playing or engaging in leisure activity.

Appears driven or "on the go".

Talks excessively.


Answers questions before they have been completely asked.

Has trouble or awaiting turn.

Interrupts or intrudes on others.

Begins before age 7.

Symptoms must be present in at least 2 types of situations, such as school, work, home.

The disorder impairs school, social or occupational functioning.

The symptoms do not occur solely during a Pervasive Developmental Disorder or any psychotic disorder including Schizophrenia.

The symptoms are not explained better by a Mood, Anxiety, Dissociative or Personality Disorder.

Associated Features: 

Learning Problem.

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Age-appropriate Behaviors in Active Children;
Mental Retardation;
Understimulating Environments;
Oppositional Behavior;
Another Mental Disorder;
Pervasive Developmental Disorder;
Psychotic Disorder;
Other Substance-Related Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.


ADHD is not caused by poor parenting or family problems. One early theory was that attention disorders were caused by minor head injuries or damage to the brain, and thus for many years ADHD was called "minimal brain damage" or "minimal brain dysfunction." The vast majority of people with ADHD however have no history of head injury or evidence of brain damage however.

ADHD is likely to be caused by biological factors which influence neurotransmitter activity in certain parts of the brain, and which have a strong genetic basis. Studies have shown a link between a person's ability to pay continued attention and the level of activity in the brain. Specifically researchers measured the level of glucose used by the areas of the brain that inhibit impulses and control attention. In people with ADHD, the brain areas that control attention used less glucose, indicating that they were less active. It appears from this research that a lower level of activity in some parts of the brain may cause inattention and other ADHD symptoms.


A wide variety of treatments have been used for ADHD including, but not limited to, various psychotropic medications, psychosocial treatment, dietary management, herbal and homeopathic treatments, biofeedback, meditation, and perceptual stimulation/training. Of these treatment strategies, stimulant medications and psychosocial interventions have been the major foci of research.  Overall, these studies support the efficacy of stimulants and psychosocial treatments for ADHD and the superiority of stimulants relative to psychosocial treatments. However, there are no long-term studies testing stimulants or psychosocial treatments lasting several years.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Psychosocial treatment of ADHD has included a number of behavioral strategies such as contingency management such as those utilising; point/token reward systems, timeout, response cost. Clinical behavior therapy (parent, teacher, or both are taught to use contingency management procedures), and cognitive-behavioral treatment (e.g., self-monitoring, verbal self-instruction, problem-solving strategies, self-reinforcement). Cognitive-behavioral treatment has not been found to yield beneficial effects in children with ADHD. In contrast, clinical behavior therapy, parent training, and contingency management have produced beneficial effects.

Pharmacotherapy [ See Psychopharmacology Section ] :

Methylphenidate (MPH).

DSM Code

314.00 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

F90 Hyperkinetic Disorders.

Disorder Sheets

ADD/ADHD Family Support

Mrs Gillian Mead. (President)
1a The High Street,
Dilton Marsh,
Nr. Westbury,
BA13 4DL.


MK ADHD Family Support Group
31 Ramsons Ave
Milton Keynes
MK14 7BB

Tel: +441908676779


Recommended Book

Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adolescence - Click Here to View


Attention- Deficit Disorder

Misc Information


Read the following article:

Non-Medical Treatment of
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
By Preeti Gupta, Clinical Psychologist

Click here to read

Attention-Deficit Disorder
By Jef Gazley, M.S.