Few psychological conditions have generated more discussion in recent years than attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). Yet, people continue to harbor many mistaken beliefs about it. Read on to learn the truth about AD/HD.
AD/HD has been recognized as a legitimate diagnosis by major medical, psychological, and educational organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education. The American Psychiatric Society recognizes ADHD as a medical disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the official mental health bible used by psychologists and psychiatrists.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (also known as attention deficit disorder) is biologically based. Research shows that it's a result of an imbalance of chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, within the brain. Its primary symptoms are inattention, impulsiveness, and, sometimes, hyperactivity. People with AD/HD typically have a great deal of difficulty with aspects of daily life, including time management and organizational skills.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools address the special needs of all children with disabilities, including children with AD/HD. Special accommodations, such as extra time on tests, simply level the playing field so that kids with AD/HD can learn as successfully as their non-AD/HD classmates.
More than 70% of the individuals who have AD/HD in childhood continue to have it in adolescence. Up to 50% will continue to have it in adulthood. Although it's been estimated that 6% of the adult population has AD/HD, the majority of those adults remain undiagnosed, and only one in four seek treatment. Yet, without help, adults with AD/HD are highly vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. They often experience career difficulties, legal and financial problems, and troubled personal relationships.
Girls are just as likely to have AD/HD as are boys, and gender makes no difference in the symptoms caused by the disorder. But because this myth persists, boys are more likely to be diagnosed than girls.
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