Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD in children have come under close scrutiny in past ten years. Causative theories ranging from toxins in diet and environment, oxygen deprivation during birth, dysfunctional parenting to genetic factors have swamped both professional and public areas.
More recently, researchers focusing on brain chemicals suggest that Attention Deficit Disorder may be caused by a deficit in the metabolism of neurotransmitters that function naturally as mood regulators.
What New Research Tells Us about ADD and ADHD
One recent research suggests that children with attention deficit disorder suffer primarily from a delay in brain development, nor from a deficit or flaw in brain function.
Two studies, published in separate journals in 2007, have prompted a re-evaluation of causative factors in children's hyperactive and disruptive behavior.
One study conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and McGill University used a new and highly precise brain imaging technique to pinpoint the thickening and thinning of thousands of cortex areas in children and teens with or without ADD or ADHD.
The peak thickness of the cortex area is a sign of brain maturity. What the researchers found was that in children with attention deficit disorders , the process of maturation in the brain follows a normal pattern.
they have also discovered was that among 223 youth with ADHD, half of
40,000 cortex sites attained peak thickness at an average age of 10.5,
compared to 7.5 in a control group of children without the disorder.
This discovery means that the brains of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD are normal; they follow a normal pattern of development. The only difference is a delay in the process.
In another study conducted at Georgetown University Center on Health, an international team of researchers analyzed data tracking reading and math skills, measures of emotional stability, concentration and attention from over 16,000 children. What they found was that disruptive, aggressive and antisocial behaviors in kindergarten had little impact on academic performance at end of elementary school.
It seemed that by the end of fifth grade, children who manifested anger outbursts and disruptive behavior fared equally well in reading and math as their more well-behaved peers of the same abilities.
Even children who defied instructions and picked fights performed equally well in academics as their more restrained counterparts of the same abilities.
There is no doubt these studies explain why 33% of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder outgrow their diagnosis by middle school. By the end of high school, 50% of all A.D.H.D. children outgrow the disorder. ADHD in children is not necessarily a permanent condition.
Other studies have found that while specific areas in the brain are compromised in children with ADD or ADHD, these areas can be rewired through training. The brain is neuroplastic or flexible enough to be changed.
One area in the brain the researchers have focused on is the anterior cingulate cortex or ACC; it demonstrates low activity in children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Executive attention is the ability one develops for self regulation and self management. In children, executive attention is developed by the activation of a brain network that includes the anterior cingulate cortex.
In children with attention problems, the network associated with the ACC remains unactivated. However, researchers have also shown that activation can be realized through training and body work like exercise or Integrative Body-Mind Training.
What Treatment Options Are Available to Children with ADD and ADHD?
a)Medication: Although drugs can help children settle down and focus on school work, they have become the center of controversy in a recent debate about their effects on children.
In 2006, Health Canada issued a warning for all ADHD drugs, claiming their possible connection with episodes of agitation, hallucination and other psychiatric problems among children.
In 2008, Health Canada claimed it had received 189 reports of adverse reactions associated with a non-stimulant A.D.H.D. drug purported to have caused 55 suicide attempts, 41 among children aged 6 to 17 and 12 among adults between 18 and 45.
As well, the safety of
antidepressants prescribed for hyperactivity in children is questioned.
Ritalin and SSRIs like Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac can produce
The question we now face is this: Is medication necessary for ADD and ADHD Children?
There are other treatment options.
b) Cognitive Behavior Therapy is designed to change negative and disruptive behavior patterns. The child is taught to change behavior by changing negative thoughts and beliefs.
c) Family counseling allows the family to understand the relationship between family dynamics and behavior. It promotes family healing as a way to change unwanted behavior.
d)Neurofeedback for ADHD is the use of an Electroencephalograph Biofeedback (EEG Biofeedback) machine to monitor a child's behavior. An ADHD child monitors his own behavior by focusing on brain waves produced during various activities. The child is trained to adjust unwanted behavior by correcting his brain wave patterns.
More About about EEG Biofeedback in this Video.
e)There are activities that can help build attention and focus.These include brain exercises,games and puzzles that deliberately stimulate the executive functions of the brain.They are techniques that help build concentration and attention.
A new computer game has shown great results helping the working memory of children with ADHD.
specifically an adherence to a gluten-free, sugar-free,dairy-free diet,
has produced remarkable improvement in child behavior. The key as well
is avoiding sugar, starches, additives and food coloring.
g) A new meditation therapy known as IBMT or Integrative Body-Mind Training is under research study at the University of Oregon in the USA and the Dalian University of Technology in China. So far, data from these studies suggest reasons why IBMT can be an effective treatment for ADHD.
h) Exercise Therapy is another highly successful option. Studies have shown that a consistent exercise program can be a natural remedy for children with ADHD. Cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling and swimming as well as Martial Arts Training ( which demands focus and attention) have produced remarkable results in children with attention deficit disorder. One reason is that exercise functions as a mood enhancer.
Research also shows that
exercise improves learning.
i)Yoga is an ancient art that has been found to be successful in helping ADHD children develop focus and concentration. Yoga and ADHD is another viable option.
j)Sometimes hyperactive behavior can be caused by
The most significant aspect of treatment is early intervention. Delay
in treatment ( whether it be diet, exercise of behavior therapy) can
produce low self-esteem, depression or anxiety disorders).These
problems, when untreated, can escalate to become a more serious problem
40 to 90 percent of ADHD cases ( diagnosed in childhood) are resolved when these individuals reach adulthood.
Many lead highly successful lives. Michael Phelps, 8 time Olympic Gold Medalist, is a case in point.
Find out how the Total Transformation Program can help your child with attention and behavior issues.
As well, read
Dr. Quinn`s critical analysis of this program.
Disclaimer: The above information is meant only to inform and should never displace professional consultation.
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