What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)?

“People who spend more time playing video games have more attention problems, and individuals who are more impulsive or have more attention problems subsequently spend more time playing video games.” (Swing et al, 2010)

 

  • Working-at-DeskAttention and focus is dependent upon many factors, inclusive of environment, level of interest, task demand, stress level, fatigue, nutrition, and overall processing abilities.
  • Although attentional difficulties can exist independently, it is important to rule out underlying processing difficulties that may be contributing to end-product attentional difficulties, inclusive of Speech and Language evaluation, occupational therapy evaluation, neuropsychological evaluation, and most importantly feedback from school/teacher, who sees the child on a daily basis, over time, in a learning environment.
  • The formal diagnosis of ADHD is a clinical diagnosis, usually by medical/psychology professionals, through reports of history, home questionnaires, school questionnaires, and observation.
  • ADHD can best be described by symptomotology of inattention (initiating, sustaining, and shifting attention), hyperactivity (sometimes), and impulsivity, with several diagnostic subcategories more explicitly defining specific functioning in these areas. 
  • Organizational skills are also compromised and it is difficult for the individual to demonstrate and access his/her skills and abilities.
  • Studies by the SPD Foundation found that 50% of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have coexisting Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). If a child struggles with sensory processing skills, then this shows up as in-attention, distractibility, fidgeting, inability to sit still, and poor visual focus.
  • Of 500 pediatric occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologists 2/3 had seen children with deficits processing and integrating sensory information who had been misidentified as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This finding is significant, given that the treatment for ADHD is medication, while the treatment for SPD is sensory-based therapy.
  • Scientists and parents alike are keenly interested in understanding the relationship between Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Although the neurological basis of the two disorders is different, children with the sensory-seeking subtype of SPD are especially likely to be diagnosed and treated for ADHD because their behaviors are similar to behaviors in children with Attention Deficit Disorder.
  • 69% of boys diagnosed with ADHD had underlying tactile defensiveness. (Parish, 2007).
  • The rise of ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the past years has coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the symptoms and promote pills to doctors, educators and parents. With the children’s market booming, the industry is now employing similar marketing techniques to focus on adults with presenting symptoms. This will become even more profitable to pharmaceutical companies. (Schwartz, 2013).
  • Occupational Therapy evaluation focused on sensory processing can determine if sensory processing difficulties underlie or contribute to attentional difficulties. If so, occupational therapists can treat the underlying sensory processing causes of inattention first, prior to starting with treatment of secondary attentional difficulties, which is typically medication.

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