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Maladaptive Behavior

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Maladaptive behavior such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is common among children. The diagnosis of ADHD in adults can be more difficult than in children. There are many controversial issues surrounding adult/child (ADHD) which include history, symptoms, treatment, and causes.

Historically speaking, ADHD is generally thought to be a childhood disorder. However, data suggest that many adults, both male and female are affected. Most patients diagnosed during childhood carry the disorder into adulthood. Studies show that out of the number of adult cases, over 50 percent were ADHD as children. Nevertheless, women tend not to be diagnosed as children because they never made trouble. Instead, they are often called daydreamers or disorganized. However, the cognitive problems such as being attentive exist. In addition, of the children diagnosed with the disorder, over 80 percent were boys.(Searight 1)

This disorder presents different symptoms in adults than in children. Adults are first evaluated according to their personal account of symptoms. Some of these symptoms may include problems with organizational skills, being easily frustrated, unable to prioritize, quick tempered, impulsive, trouble coping with stress, finding it hard to finish tasks, trouble keeping a job, and defiance of authority figures. The individual may also forget important engagements or speak out of turn, giving no thought to what he or she says. Personality traits of the individual may range from being creative, intelligent, and driven to pessimistic, worrisome, underachiever, or destructive. Persons having ADHD throughout childhood seem to undergo changes as an adult. In the place of hyperactivity, adults tend to have feelings of being completely out of control.

Although some adults may be able to exercise self-control while sitting through a lecture, they probably will not comprehend anything that was said. They may also experience problems with short-term memory and math skills. Studies conducted by Doctor Julie Scweitzer on adult males with and without ADHD reveal a difference in the brain. The men without ADHD had no problem with adding given strings of numbers. However, the men with ADHD had trouble recalling stored information, while processing current information. Symptoms in children may include rage, aggressive behavior, hurting other children and learning disabilities. (Searight 2,4) ( Fine3,4,5)

There are various treatments for (ADHD) patients. One treatment, currently under fire, is the drug Ritalin. Many lawsuits have been filed against the maker of the drug. Side affects related to Ritalin include loss of appetite, insomnia, and mood swings. Another drug used is Adderall, primarily for women. Aside from drugs, there is a natural approach to treatment. According to an article published in Infants and Young Children, “Treatments include herbs, homeopathy, nutrition and dietary supplements, acupuncture, therapeutic touch and massage…Herbal treatments include caffeine and other herbal stimulants; herbal sedatives such as valerian, lemon balm, and kava kava; and other herbs and supplements such as gingko biloba, fish oil, pycnogenol, evening primrose oil (EPO), and blue-green algae…” However, these treatments are not free from side effects. (Nickel 2,4) (McCarthy 1)

A great debate exists among parents, doctors, educators, and scientists about the causes of ADHD. Some physicians think that poor nutrition is a cause for ADHD. The remedy they say, is cut out the sweets, no Kool-Aid, gum, chocolate, candy, ice cream, cookies, or birthday cake. Others view the disorder as just plain ridiculous. They believe that if parents take control of their ill-mannered children, there would be no need for drugs. Although, on the other side of the coin, there are people who think that this is nothing short of frustrated parents pushing their children to be adults. Furthermore, they believe that ADHD is not an actual disorder at all, but rather a normal childhood response to their environment. One article in USA Today states,

Childhood itself has come to be viewed as a suspect phase. Children of all ages and means are being squelched on the playground and in class, not because they are unmanageable or unruly, but simply because they are behaving as youngsters should. Diagnosed with problems that used to be recognized as normal childhood traits-impulsiveness and exuberance, spontaneity and daring -thousands of kid’s are being diagnosed as hyperactive and drugged into submission. (Arnold 2)

However, there are others who view ADHD as having nothing at all to do with parental control, but consider the brain to be the cause. Currently companies are testing equipment in combination with drugs that would allow for biological answers. This method must be studied further to gain conclusive evidence. Hence, it must go through a rigorous process to be FDA approved. Another probable cause to consider is genetics. Many physicians think that genetics and heredity cause ADHD. In an article wrote by David Dremer, he states “Most practitioners in the field now agree that the characteristic problems of people with ADHD stem from a genetically-based neurobiological malfunctioning. The prevailing finding is that the activity of groups of inhibitory neurons located in the frontal cortex of the brain are depressed and are unable to inhibit or control information from lower brain structures, most notably the limbic structures that mediate emotion and the reticular activating system that controls arousal.”(Arnold 1,2) (Bowman, 1) ( Drehmer, 3 )

Currently, the debate about ADHD is ongoing and remains unresolved. In any case, children and adults are suffering from something very real. Whether it is caused by their environment or a biological malfunction, it will continue to be hotly debated until scientific facts can be proven. Further studies need to be conducted to come up with the answers for the millions of people suffering from ADHD. For now, the controversial issues concerning the history, treatment, and causes of ADHD, continue to remain an unsolved mystery.

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