Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Backround Information

What is ADHD?

Children who have ADHD display difficulty when it comes to paying attention and concentrating. ADHD affects a child's ability to follow directions, and to stay focused on the task at hand. Children may become easily frustrated or bored with tasks. They may fidget or find it hard to sit still. These behaviors interfere with a child's ability to function at school and at home. ADHD can be diagnosed at any age, but the age of onset is believed to be around the age of 5.

Symptoms of ADHD include:

1) Inattention

2) Hyperactivity

3) Impulsivity

How Common is ADHD?

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has estimated that ADHD affects 3% to 5% of children. Studies show that the numbers of children being diagnosed in only increasing. An increase of 22% has appeared between 2003 and 2007 amongst children diagnosed with ADHD.


Because other mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety have similar symptoms to ADHD a full psychiatric assessment is encouraged to accurately diagnose a child. Once symptoms are clear and present a child is assessed physically and mentally by a doctor, and the child's medical history is reviewed. Doctors may also speak to parents, teachers and family members and others who would be familiar with the child and his/her symptoms.


The cause of ADHD is unknown. Although researchers have a multitude of factors that may contribute to onset. Heredity- ADHD tends to be found in more than just one family member, which suggest that it may be inherited. Chemical Imblance- researchers have discovered that a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters may contribute to ADHD. Brain Changes- Studies have shown that the parts of the brain that control impulse seem to be less active in those with ADHD versus those without ADHD. Other factors- infections, substance abuse during pregnancy, exposure to toxins, brain damage or anything that could effect brain development.


There is no cure for ADHD but with the proper treatment symptoms can be controlled. Treatment includes medication and/or psychosocial therapy. Medication- stimulants can be prescribed by a doctor to control hyperactivity and increase attention span. (concerta, methylin, vyvanse, adderall etc.) Psychosocial Therapy- special education, behavior therapy, counseling, social skills training, support groups

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Teaching Strategy: Self Monitoring Attention and Self Monitoring of Academic Performance

Recently studies have proven that self-regulatory abilities can help improve a child's academic performance. A study conducted by Karen R. Harris of Vanderbilt University in 2005 focused on two self monitoring techniques used in classrooms: Self Monitoring of Attention ( self recordings on a graph and timed beeps to remind students to stay on task) and Self Monitoring of Academic Performance (practice of task with self recording on graph each time the task is practiced correctly). The study was performed on six 4th-5grade students (each diagnosed with ADHD and using medication to treat the ADHD) to identify which technique was the most affective in a school setting. The task observed was students learning ten spelling words. Upon teaching the children both techniques, the students were then individually observed while performing one technique one day and then the other technique the next day. Results showed that during Self Monitoring of Attention the students collectively averaged 94% in regards to on task behavior. Self Monitoring of Academic Performance averaged out to be 92% in regards to on task behavior amongst the students as a whole. Thus showing that both self monitoring strategies have positive effects on students learning and on task behavior. The conclusion of the research stated; "Teachers should carefully consider student's abilities needs, and goals when deciding to use a particular self monitoring procedure." The conclusion goes on to state that some procedures may work better than others depending on the student, but all in all both procedures of self-monitoring prove to be affective in increasing academic performance and on task behavior.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology can have a profound impact on students with ADHD. One type of technology that proves to be beneficial for students is Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI). Because CAI actively engages the student with animation, visuals, games and activities, and visual concepts in motion, it is successful in grabbing and maintaining the students attention versus using a textbook where there is very little stimulation of the senses making it harder for a student to maintain focus and attention.

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Chadd (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a non-profit organization created in response to parents and their children with ADHD who were dealing with frustration and feelings of isolation. Chadd provides, information, support and advocacy for those with ADHD.