Attention Deficit Disorder is only an excuse for parents who cannot control and who do not discipline their children. It does not exist.
AD(H)D is the result of a neurological dysfunction within the brain. Symptoms include distractibility and inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.
Ongoing research suggests that AD(H)D can be either inherited or acquired and may be due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters within the brain, which are used to control behaviour.
A glucose metabolism in the Central Nervous System has also been theorized as a possible cause of AD(H)D.
Recent research also shows that a high percentage of kids with AD(H)D have frontal lobe and basal ganglia that are reduced by about 10% in size and activity. 3 to 5% of the school age children are estimated to have this disorder. Boys outnumber girls by 3:1.
Kids, by definition, have difficulty sitting still and paying attention in school and other activities. Kids "diagnosed" with AD(H)D are no different, they are just being kids.
Children diagnosed with AD(H)D exhibit symptoms that reveal behaviour greatly different than that of their peers.
This behaviour is continuous and occurs in many different settings and situations - in camp, school, home. In addition, the behaviour causes significant social, academic or occupational impairment.
AD(H)D can be prevented.
Unfortunately, AD(H)D cannot be prevented. Its causes are genetic and biological. Action, however, can be taken at camp in order to control behaviour.
All children with AD(H)D are hyperactive and have learning disabilities.
Symptoms may or may not include hyperactivity. Those who are hyperactive are referred to as undifferentiated or AD(H)D.
Though a large number of AD(H)D children do have learning disabilities, the disorders have quite different effects on children.
AD(H)D affects the child's behaviour ultimately causing inattention and impulsivity. Learning disabilities affect a child's ability to learn and process information.
With the proper medication, AD(H)D can be cured.
Like any disorder, medication will only moderate the effects of the disorder for as long as the person is taking it.
Ritalin, Cylert and Dexedrine are used to stimulate the production of two neurotransmitters (dopamine and norephinephrine) and have been effective in 70% of those prescribed medication.
Benefits include an obvious and immediate increase in attention, control, concentration and goal-directed effort. Medication also reduces disruptive behaviours, aggression and hyperactivity.
There are side effects however to stimulant medication - the most popular being loss of appetite, weight loss, sleeping problems, irritability, stomachache, headache, rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, sudden deterioration of behaviour and symptoms of depression with sadness, crying and withdrawn behaviour.
It is important to note that side effects and their intensity will vary from one individual to another.
Most experts recommend a multi-method treatment including the following:
- Behaviour management techniques at home, school and activities such as camp.
- Classroom accommodations
Medication is only to help children focus in a school environment and children must be given "medication holidays" throughout the year.
The need to focus and the social demands are often as great if not greater in a recreational setting such as summer camp.
While medication is not a cure, if they help a child to "make it" in any given environment, then why take him/her off the medication.
Children will outgrow AD(H)D as they mature.
For 50-80% of children with AD(H)D, symptoms continue into adolescence.
In 30-50% of these cases, these children AD(H)D will still be present in adulthood characterized by poor academic performance, poor self-image and problems with peer relationships.
Controlling the behaviour of children with AD(H)D is difficult. There is little that camp counsellors can do.
Positive reinforcement is key to improving behaviour in children with AD(H)D and appropriate rewards should be given to those who exhibit this desired behaviour such as remaining quiet when asked or completing assigned tasks or homework.
In addition, mild reprimands can decrease negative and undesirable behaviours if they are given out with immediacy.
It is important to note that these children must be aware of the potential consequences of their misconduct. Rules must be enforced on a consistent and immediate basis.
Children with AD(H)D should be segregated into a setting appropriate for special education.
While most AD(H)D children can succeed in a mainstream setting, as long as the staff provides a positive motivating environment and varies teaching style, materials and activities, some children may require and benefit greatly from a segregated environment until such time as they have the confidence and the skills required to succeed in a mainstream setting.