Defining Attention Deficit Disorder

Dr. Purushothaman
October 2, 2013

Attention deficit disorder (abbreviated as ADD) is a syndrome exhibited usually by children aged seven years and below. The disorder is characterized by the child's persistent impulsiveness, hyperactivity and very short attention span.

The name attention deficit disorder has been widely used to refer to the disorder, but in 1994, researchers, experts and psychologists reached a consensus to use attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder to refer to the condition. In this article, attention deficit disorder would be used to refer to this neurological disorder.

Attention deficit disorder is not a disease. Many parents wrongly take the condition as an ailment, but in fact, the condition is just a behavioral disorder. Many studies have been conducted to pin down its cause, but up to this day, no concrete reason is yet established to explain the occurrence of the situation.

It is estimated that about 3% to 5% of the United States population is affected by this behavioral disorder. Because most of attention deficit disorder patients are kids aged four years old and above, people associate the disorder to young age.

It is estimated that globally, about 8% to 10% of school-age children are affected by this behavioral condition. What is more interesting is that based on statistics and reported cases, boys are more prone to be diagnosed with the condition. The number of girls with attention deficit disorder is really less compared to boys.

But there are reported cases of young adults and even adults that exhibit the manifestations of attention deficit disorder. It is assumed that these adults have retained the attention deficit disorder from their childhood.


Studies over attention deficit disorder are yet to establish the real causes of this behavioral condition. The scientific community treats attention deficit disorder as a very young medical or mental case that is yet to be given full-scale research attention.

But because through the years, the number of patients diagnosed with attention deficit disorder is on a constant rise, the global scientific community is started to become alarmed. Statistics show that although the volume of patients with attention deficit disorder worldwide is still modest, it is growing rapidly.

Attention deficit disorder is becoming more common nowadays. Children from all sorts of families, wealthy, average or poverty-stricken, are becoming increasingly exposed to this condition. Even some famous celebrities' children are diagnosed with such a disorder.

As the awareness over attention deficit disorder increases, so does the actual volume. That may be one reason why many parents are suspecting that their children may be affected by this disorder, surging the number of reported cases.

Causes of attention deficit disorder

Early studies suggest that attention deficit disorder can be linked to biological disturbances. The disorder may be linked to brain development problems that occurred while the child was in his development years. Some assert that mild defects to the child's brain during birth may be blamed for attention deficit disorder's onset.

Genetic links are still being considered. Several research efforts indicate that most of the children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder come from families with several members who also experienced the disorder. Although there is still no concrete evidence to back this assertion, some experts readily accept this as a viable explanation.

Physiological observations also indicate that attention deficit disorder is present mostly in children whose brain sizes are about 5% to 10% smaller than the average. Possibly, chemical reactions and changes involving neurons in the brain region can also cause the disorder.

One interesting idea studies are also looking at is the relationship between attention deficit disorder and excessive watching of television among very young kids. Thus, experts advise parents not expose children under the age of two years to television.

Lastly, some experts cite the mother's pregnancy condition for the onset of attention deficit disorder. It has been initially found that moms who still smoked during their pregnant months tend to have children that exhibit attention deficit disorder symptoms. Premature birth is also looked at.


No definite medication is yet identified or developed to specifically treat children with attention deficit disorder. However, there are several drugs that are administered and prescribed to such children, although doctors remind parents that the treatments are not directly curing the condition.

Many children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder tend to outgrow the condition as they grow up and mature. Thus, it is important that parents know how to handle the situation well. Their patience and understanding may be the only effective treatment there is, for now.

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