What Is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by a combination of inattentiveness, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Five to seven percent of children are diagnosed with this developmental disorder. Some simply cannot concentrate; others become disruptive, defiant and have trouble getting along with parents, peers, or teachers.

ADHD is controversial: Is it a true disorder or a collection of naturally occuring behaviors that are less tolerated in today’s high-demand world? There are competing theories about what, if anything, triggers ADHD in the brain, although executive functioning (attention, emotion regulation, and decision-making) is invariably affected. Up to 50 percent of children eventually outgrow the condition, but even if so, early developmental delays may create enduring learning problems.

Experts disagree over whether treatment should be behavioral (training of attention, increased play, greater structure) or pharmacological (stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall), although a combination of both may work best.

Work, school, and managing household tasks can be very challenging for people with ADD and ADHD. Fortunately, those afflicted can learn coping skills to work around shortcomings and harness their talents — as many successful people with ADD and ADHD have done.

Dig Deeper in the Diagnosis Dictionary



Find an expert in your area.

ADHD Tests

Attention

Can't concentrate? Learn how to focus your attention.

Attention Span Test

Do you focus on a task or zone out?

Concentration

Can you focus on the task at hand?

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?

Child Development Blogs