Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that presents in various forms, with no two ADHD disorders having exactly the same characteristics. ADHD is classified as a disruptive behavior disorder characterized by ongoing difficulty with attention span, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity. These difficulties occur more frequently and severely than is typical for individuals in the same stage of development.
ADHD is a neurological condition, frequently familial, that affects specific types of brain functioning. The term ADHD is further divided into subcategories that describe the type of ADHD. The three categories recognized by the scientific community are ADHD inattentive type, ADHD impulsive-hyperactive type, or ADHD combined type. Some individuals, including many professionals, still refer to the condition as ADD (attention deficit disorder). However, this term is no longer in widespread use. For individuals who have been diagnosed with ADD in the past, the corresponding current terminology is most likely to be predominantly ADHD, inattentive type.
It is possible to meet the accepted diagnostic criteria for ADHD without displaying any symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity. Each ADHD individual will display a unique combination of symptoms. They will not necessarily have all of the symptoms associated with ADHD, and the levels of severity or impairment are varied from individual to individual. There are mild forms of ADHD in addition to the severe forms that result in significant impairment. Symptoms of ADHD usually begin before seven years of age, and can cause problems in school, jobs and careers, family life, and other relationships. ADHD can be managed through behavioral or medical interventions, or a combination of the two. Despite public controversy over the legitimacy of the disorder's existence, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Surgeon General of the United States, and the international community of clinical researchers and physicians have affirmed that ADHD is a valid disorder that may result in severe, lifelong consequences if left untreated. The Senate of the United States designated September 7, 2004, as National Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness Day.
Maria Basile PhD, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit,