Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) is much more prevalent in todays societycompared to previous generations. More and more people are being diagnosed at an alarmingrate.
To our surprise, I learned this disorder does not only affect children. There are many adultswho suffer from it also. ADHD characteristics are neuro-biologically based, and they oftenchange as the individual gets older. One does not out-grow ADHD even though the behaviors, orsymptoms may not be exhibited in the same manner or with the same intensity.
After learningthis fact, I thought it would be very interesting to see how this disorder affects both children andcollege students. Therefore, I choose one journal article which relates ADHD to children, and theother which deals with the effects of ADHD on college students. The first journal article I researched, An Intervention Approach for Children withTeacher and Parent Identified Attentional Difficulties, explained that inattention, impulsivity,distractibility, and restlessness are all signs of a child with an attention-deficit hyperactivitydisorder. There are three subtypes of ADHD which have been defined by the Diagnostic andStatistical Manual of Mental Disorders as: predominantly inattentive, predominately hyperactiveimpulsive, and combined (Semrud-Clekeman, Nielsen, Clinton, Sylvester, Parle, and Connor,1999). Usually children who exhibit these subtypes have difficulty completing assignments,displaying high qualities of work, and maintaining good behaviors. Children with thehyperactivity-impulsivity subtype do not display significant attentional problems, though they areidentified as young as pre-schoolers.
However, symptoms of inattention dont typically emergeuntil the later ages, which must be why the predominately inattentive and combined subtypes ofADHD have been found in older school-age children. These children who have been identified as having ADHD, show an inability touse effective problem solving over a period of time. When researchers looked at their brainstructures, they found that the frontal-striatal regions are involved with the childs ability toinhibit, focus, and shift attention. Researchers have formed interventions involving the behavioral or cognitivemanagement of children with ADHD. Attention-training strategies, classroom-basedcontingency systems, home-school contingencies, and peer-mediated contingencies are examplesof these interventions. In an effort to measure students with ADHD, in addition to medicationand intervention strategies, researchers conducted two types of tests.
The first test, the visual attention task, required the child to scan fourteen rows ofds, each d had one to three marks around it. The child was instructed to select the ds with twomarks around them. The children were also told to move down to the next row every twentyseconds. The score is calculated by subtracting the errors from the total amount correct. It wassuggested that this task assesses the capacity for sustained attention as well as accurate visualscanning and inhibition of rapid responses(Semrud-Clekeman, Nielsen, Clinton, Sylvester,Parle, and Connor, 1999, p. 585).
The second test, the auditory attention task, required the child to listen to randomletters and numbers. Afterwards, they were asked to remember how many letters or numbers theyheard. The child must keep in mind the letters and numbers they heard for each stimulus at thesame time. The test starts out with four stimuli and finishes with twelve. This task has beenhypothesized to be a measure of auditory divided attention as well as sustainedattention(Semrud-Clekeman, Nielsen, Clinton, Sylvester, Parle, and Connor, 1999, p.
585). The results of this study confirmed that children with ADHD who had helpthrough the intervention programs showed an increase in their performance on visual andauditory attention tasks, while the other children without the help of intervention programs didnot show any improvement. These children most likely represent a continuum of attention andactivity / impulsivity problems and may describe the population of children with significantattention problems who are infrequently referred for an assessment beyond thepediatrician(Semrud-Clekeman, Nielsen, Clinton, Sylvester, Parle, and Connor, 1999, p. 587). Itseems very probable that children with attention and work completion difficulties withoutsignificant behavioral and learning problems often go unaided in classrooms today. The second journal article I selected is titled Psychological FunctioningDifferences Among College Students With Confirmed ADHD, ADHD by Self-Report Only, andWithout ADHD.
In an attempt to understand attention- deficit hyperactivity disorder, professorLee A. Rosen, psychologist Cori Ann Ramirez, and doctoral student Tracy L. Richards haveresearched the effects this disorder has had on college students. College students were researchedbased on three categories: those with confirmed ADHD, those with self-reported, and studentswithout ADHD. The team of researchers had difficulty in diagnosing students with ADHDbecause of three factors: establishing a childhood history of ADHD, conducting carefuldifferential diagnoses, and assessing for comorbid diagnoses (Ramirez, Richards & Rosen,1999, p. 299) Researchers also found that the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol, as well as variousother diagnoses are usually associated with ADHD.
As I learned from the first research article, symptoms of this disorder includeinattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. When researchers noted the symptoms in collegestudents, they found many of these students exhibiting restlessness, impulsivity, distraction, poorperformance in academic settings that require sustained attention and behavior regulation. Tomeasure students for ADHD, researchers used several tests: the Brief Symptom ScreeningForm(BSSF), a self- report measure of ADHD, a Background Questionnaire, which involvesinformation of ethnicity and medical history, and the ADHD Behavior Checklist for Adults wasused to measure the symptoms of ADHD over the past six months of the persons life as well astheir childhood. The other tests used were the Wender Utah Rating Scale(WURS), which helpedto measure an adults assessment of their own childhood, the Symptom Checklist-90-R(SCL-90-R), that consists of ninety items to assess psychological symptoms of psychiatric andmedical patients, and the last analysis used was The Conduct Disorder Scale, which instructedstudents to admit to any delinquent activities they took part in within the past twelve months.
After researchers measured the scores from the aforementioned tests, they foundthat ADHD students and self-reported ADHD students scored very similar. Although the resultsbetween the two groups showed similarities, there were many problems in assessing the scores. Self-reported students and their parents did not agree on their condition. The article states, thatparental recall of childhood behavior is more valid than patient recall because often timesstudents may forget, exaggerate, or underestimate their own childhood behavior (Ramirez,Richards & Rosen, 1999, p.
304) Also, students of the self-reports could have been lying whenanswering the questionnaires. As one can see, this study may not be the most accurate way todetermine if someone truly does have ADHD. Overall, researchers agree that attention- deficit hyperactivity disorder is acommon issue amongst college students, especially those who do not know why they areexperiencing certain inabilities. Researchers feel that without proper measurements, manystudents who suffer from ADHD will not receive the appropriate assistance deemed necessary,and they will continue to have attentional problems that will interfere with their academicperformance. The popular media article found in U.
S. News and World Report , Taking aPicture of a Mind Gone Awhirl, focuses on a new imaging method used to diagnose ADHD. Itis said to be the first definitive test for ADHD. The new diagnostic exam, developed bypsychiatrists at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.
, uses an infrared tracking device to measuredifficult-to-detect movements of children as they attempt a tough but boring attention test,pressing the space bar each time a particular kind of star appears for a brief moment somewhereon the computer screen (Schrof Fischer, 2000). Researchers began a study on eleven boys whohad previously been diagnosed with ADHD and six boys who do not have this disorder. If theboys pressed the space bar too quickly, it demonstrated how impulsive they were. If they did notnotice one of the stars on the screen, it determined how much their attention wandered.
Usingthis rigorous screening, only six of the eleven boys were confirmed to fit a strict definition ofADHD (Schrof Fischer, 2000). This in turn means that five of the boys did not fit the strictdefinition of ADHD. Therefore they must have been misdiagnosed at some point. The article alsodiscusses a part of the brain called the putamen and how it is different in an ADHD child. It seems as if this new test could be a much better way of diagnosing someonewith ADHD compared to the methods used in the two journal articles.
I feel the researchpresented in the journal articles does support the report in our popular media article byillustrating that there is continuous research taking place that just seems to be getting better astime goes by. All three articles also helped confirm my awareness of the fact that ADHD ispresently such a widespread problem. The articles also helped me to realize how manyindividuals are misdiagnosed. All types of disorders, from anxiety to manic-depression toconduct disorders, are now mistaken for ADHD, and everyone suffers for that diagnosticsloppiness (Schrof Fischer, 2000).
It comes as a relief to know that with modern technology,comes more accurate ways a determining whether an individual is suffering from ADHD. If thisnew test is confirmed to be reliable, it could help correct both the overuse of Ritalin and theundertreatment of kids whose ADHD is missed by the naked eye (Schrof Fischer, 2000). All inall, Ive learned a great deal about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and I am glad to now know that there is hope for our future generation to be prepared with more improved methods to accurately diagnose people with ADHD.