Causes of ADHD
While an exact cause for ADHD has not yet been determined, researchers are exploring a variety of factors which appear to relate to the disorder. Current data suggests that heredity and brain functioning are the two most likely causes for ADHD. Studies indicate a genetic link for ADHD is likely, though the exact gene is yet undetermined. Because of the hereditary nature of ADHD, the disorder tends to be common in some families and uncommon in others. This theory was supported by studies done on twins, adopted children, and in families with at least one individual diagnosed with ADHD. The brain functioning element of ADHD relates both to brain structure and brain chemistry. Children with attention deficit disorder tend to lag behind their peers in certain developmental areas by up to three years. This is a physiological brain development issue, not just a social development. Likewise, areas of the brain which control inhibition, memory, organizational abilities, verbal regulation, motor control, mental set, and emotional regulation are all affected in children with attention deficit disorder. Some studies have also shown that children with ADHD have improper levels of certain brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine.
Early exposure to toxic substances may also play a role in the development of ADHD in children. Studies have shown a correlation between alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy and the presence of ADHD in children, as well as a relationship between lead exposure in early childhood and ADHD.
Many parents have expressed concerns over diet, hormone functioning, homelife environment, and television as possible causes for ADHD. While studies have been done in these areas, no correlations have been discovered.
Symptoms of ADHD in Children
Children afflicted by attention deficit disorder frequently share a variety of common symptoms depending on the type of ADHD they are experiencing.
Children who struggle primarily with hyperactivity and impulsivity may relate best to the following list of symptoms specific to ADHD Primarily Hyperactive Type:
- Constantly fidgeting and moving
- Inability to remain seated when it is expected (ie. classroom, dinner table, religious services)
- Frequently running or climbing
- Talks or sings while playing
- Always active
- Blurts out answers, rather than waiting their turn
- Frequently interrupts others
- Inserts themselves into the activities and games of others
- Outbursts of emotions – temper tantrums, or uncontrolled crying
Children who struggle mostly with inattentiveness and distractibility may relate to these symptoms common among children with ADHD Primarily Inattentive Type:
- Has trouble listening and paying attention (both in the classroom and at home)
- Frequently daydreaming
- Appears to not be listening
- Easily distracted by their environment
- Has trouble staying organized, planning activities, and finishing projects
- Often loses things (toys, homework, books, etc.)
Some children with attention deficit disorder may exhibit some symptoms from both of the above lists. It is likely that these children are experiencing ADHD Combined Type.