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Biology 103
2003 First Paper
On Serendip

Attention Deficit Disorder

Bessy Guevara


Attention Deficit Disorder is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects thousands of people in the United States. Over the past decade, media focuses have been primarily on children with the disorder and the effects of the traditionally used medication, Ritalin. It is important to note that A.D.D. does not target only children, but it also greatly affects adults because it is not a condition than can be outgrown or cured. Furthermore, it has become critical, since more doctors have become specialists on this disorder, thus presenting the many ways in which it affects the life of a human being. The identification of Attention Deficit Disorder dates to the early 1900's when it was called "minimal brain dysfunction"; researchers found that children with encephalitis and soldiers who had received some brain damage (after World War I), demonstrated hyperactivity, impulsivity, and conduct disorders. (1) Consequently, researchers made the assumption that since brain injury could cause hyperactivity then all hyperactivity would be caused by brain damage. After many years of new observations, this statement has been shown to be untrue; however, there are still many misconceptions and rumors about the causes of A.D.D., which limit the general understanding of the disorder.

The topic of A.D.D. is of great interest to me since two of my siblings have been diagnosed with the disorder. This first assignment has given me the opportunity to explore the causes and the many faces of A.D.D. I found myself to be one of many people who believed many rumors and misconceptions to be true about A.D.D. as well as learning about the newest most commonly accepted observations and conclusions about the causes of this disorder. For example, A.D.D. does not occur in one form only; in fact, there are two major types of A.D.D.:
Inattentive: In general, people with this type have trouble keeping focus and attention and are not consistent with hyperactivity.
Often failure in paying close attention to details/making mistakes in assignments
Difficulty in retaining attention in tasks
Seems not to listen/forgets daily activities
Failure to follow instructions or finishing assignments
Constantly loosing belongings

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: In general, people with this type are in constant overactivity and are highly impulsive, which leads to the inability to remain focused and attentive.
Fidgety and squirmy/ not being able to stay seated
Feeling restless
Often "on the go" or acts if "driven by a motor"
Often talking excessively
Impatience/Difficulty waiting for a turn or in lines (2)
In looking at the types of the disorder it is inevitable to ask: What are the causes of A.D.D.?

Contrary to what many people think, A.D.D. is not an illness nor is it a sign of low intelligence. (3) As other rumors suggest, it is also not caused by bad parenting. A prime example is my own family; two of my siblings have A.D.D. and I do not, although we were all raised by the same parents. In fact, there are several suggested factors which possibly contribute to the cause. For example, women who have an intake of drugs and alcohol affect the development of a fetus; thus, the child is likely to have cerebral damage that would lead to A.D.D.. Furthermore, the diet is a critical factor because it also affects the functioning of the brain. When the body does not receive an intake of the necessary nutrients, the brain suffers. Studies have also shown that "a child is [seventy] percent more likely to have A.D.H.D. or A.D.D. if they have a parent with either disorder." (4) This is most interesting because it indicates that the disorder may be genetic. This latter observation calls for further investigation since A.D.D. may become a greater concern to the overall public. The genetic factor implies that this condition is inevitable and that it cannot be contained. Since these factors are only observations and no definite factor(s) has been established as the cause(s) of A.D.D., there is much disagreement among scientists; thus allowing for additional research on this condition.

Most concepts surrounding A.D.D. appear to be negative since media focus is primarily concentrated on the problems of it. Despites its negative influence on people's lives, there are many people who have managed to lead successful lives. Many adults with A.D.D. have learned to live with the condition without having been previously diagnosed in their youth; many have used their hyperactivity as a tool for their success. However, focus remains on children with the condition and not so much on the adults. Perhaps equal investigation should be made of adults with A.D.D. in order to create a broader view and better understanding of the disorder; deeper understanding relies on the source of the problem as well as the positive and negative outcome.


Sources

1) ADD WareHouse , Facts about Attention Deficit Disorder
2) Better Health Channel
3) Born to Explore , The Other side of ADD
4) www.add-adhd-helpcenter.com/adhd_causes.htm


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