Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) are the most common mental disorders diagnosed among children in the United States (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder..., 2009). Primary care physicians provide a major component of the care for children with these diagnoses and more often than not, children with these disorders are prescribed psychotropic medications such as Ritalin and Dexitrine (Wolraich, Wibbelsman, Brown, Evans, Gotlieb, & Knight et al. (2005). ADD/ADHD affects approximately one to three percent of all elementary school-aged American children and its symptoms include higher than average levels of inattention, impulsivity, and/or over-activity (Dupaul & White, 2006).
At issue in this analysis is an assessment of the symptoms of and diagnostic criteria for ADHD, a description of its causes, and a discussion of treatments that are employed in ameliorating symptoms. ADHD is a complex phenomenon that adversely affects the capacity of children to advance academically and to adapt socially; it also affects adults, many of whom may have been experiencing symptoms for some time without a diagnosis or treatment (Weisler & Goodman, 2008).
Early diagnosis and treatment, using a variety of different interventions, can improve outcomes often quite significantly (Weisler & Goodman, 2008).
Symptoms and Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD
It is estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of American children or about 2 million individuals have ADHD. In a typical classroom of 25 to 30 students, therefore, it is likely that at least one child will have ADHD, which may or may not be diagnosed and hence, may not be treated (Working with the ADHD student, 2006). The concept of ADHD has proved remarkably popular with the public and with child and adolescent mental health services. It has become the most commonly and widely used term to describe the pattern of severe hyperactivity...