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Attention deficit disorders begin in childhood and for many persist into adulthood. A review of ADD/ADHD includes the definition, description of behaviors, diagnosis, possible causes, perceptions and misperceptions, and treatment strategies. Diagnosis, causes, and treatment remain controversial topics.

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are chronic disorders that begin in early childhood. These problems in children remain the most common neurobehavioral challenges to children, families, schools, and pediatricians. Due to a deleterious impact on cognitive, social, and school functioning, there is a considerable amount of research regarding the disorders. It is estimated that 3 percent to 5 percent of children suffer from ADD/ADHD. The diagnosis and treatment are still controversial. Most diagnostic and treatment regimens require extensive resources; pediatricians tend to rely on information about ADD/ADHD in the pediatric literature and parental and teacher reports which may vary or contain misperceptions. It has been found that there are high levels of comorbidity between ADHD and conduct disorder (30-50 percent), mood disorders (15-75 percent), and anxiety disorders (25 percent). ADHD is found to persist into adulthood in 10-60 percent of childhood-onset cases (Kwasman, Tinsley, & Lepper, 1995; Milberger, Biederman, Faraone, Murphy, & Tsuang, 1995).

Confusion still exists regarding the definition of ADD/ADHD due to the many terms used over the centuries. Early descriptions of children who were excessively active and distractible, impulsive or unruly, and difficult to manage, were associated with brain damage or disease. This confusion was compounded in 1918 by the encephalitic epidemic, where doctors observed children developed this type of behavior following recovery from encephalitis. Terms such as minimal brain damage, gave way to labels of hyperkinetic and hype...

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