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Characteristics of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Characteristics of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


The from attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity , commonly identified by the acronym ADHD is a disorder of neuropsychological development of the child which includes difficulty of attention and concentration, deficits in impulse control and activity level .

These manifestations appear to be generated by the individual’s inability to regulate his behavior in relation to external criteria such as the passage of time , the objectives to be met with the demands of the environment, negatively affecting normal development and social integration.

Contents hide 1 ADHD Diagnosis 1.1 ADHD. Inactive Subtype 1.2 ADHD. Hyperactive Subtype 1.3 ADHD. Combined Subtype 2 Functions Impaired by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 2.1 Development and ADHD 2.2 Therapeutic Intervention

The diagnosis of ADHD

The diagnosis of the disorder usually takes place in school age even if already from the first years of life some specific characteristics may be present that can alert in this regard such as, for example, psychomotor agitation, extreme tendency to switch from one activity to another, and so on . Furthermore, it is observed that in many cases other problems are present such as oppositional provocator disorders, conduct disorders, learning disorders (such as dyslexia , dysgraphia, etc.), anxiety disorders and, less frequently, mood disorders, disorders obsessive-compulsive and tics.

ADHD disorder can develop into three different subtypes, depending on the prevalent symptomatic manifestation:

  • Inattentivo
  • Iperativvo
  • Combined

It should be noted that the diagnosis of an ADHD disorder requires that these modes of behavior are persistent and frequent in all contexts: home, school, play environments, so as to constitute the constant feature of the child.

ADHD. Inactive subtype

The difficulty in paying attention prevails: children show more effort than their peers to concentrate and remain attentive to the same task or activity for an extended period of time . This inattention can be related to details only or to broader aspects, involving trivial “distraction errors”, but also incomplete and disordered tasks and jobs.

The child who manifests symptoms of inattention briefly assumes the following characteristics:

  • is easily distracted,
  • lose sight of the details,
  • forget things,
  • he switches suddenly from one activity to another;
  • has difficulty concentrating on a task or activity;
  • is easily bored,
  • prefers diversified and stimulating play activities;
  • struggles to focus attention on organizing a specific task,
  • shows learning difficulties;
  • struggle to complete or perform unsupervised tasks,
  • tends to lose objects and tools useful to complete the assigned activities;
  • seems inattentive when spoken to,
  • struggle to maintain eye contact ;
  • difficulty processing information with the same speed and precision as other children;
  • struggling to follow instructions.

ADHD. Hyperactive subtype

There are predominantly hyperactivity / impulsivity symptoms . The child experiences excessive psycho-motor agitation, is unable to sit and stand still for a long time and / or when the situation requires it, such as at school. In addition, disharmonious and unfinalized movements of various parts of the body such as legs or arms can be observed.

The hyperactive child briefly shows the following traits:

  • move your hands or feet continuously or shake;
  • gets up in class or in other situations where he should remain seated;
  • runs or climbs excessively even in situations where it would not be appropriate, for example in the classroom;
  • shows difficulty engaging in quiet activities;
  • it is often threadbare and tends to move from one topic to another.

Impulsiveness , specifically, manifests itself in the difficulty of delaying a response supported by adequate reasoning, of curbing or avoiding inappropriate behavior, of postponing gratification, waiting for one’s turn, for example.

Impulsive children tend to respond quickly, to interrupt and “talk over” to others and often perform dangerous actions without thinking about the consequences.

ADHD. Combined subtype

“Combined” in which there are at least six symptoms of inattention and as many of hyperactivity / impulsivity.

Functions impaired by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

If these are the phenomenological characteristics, manifest of ADHD disorder, what are the competences and functions compromised and on which therefore it is possible to work to improve the quality of life of these individuals and those around them?

Attentional competence is mediated by different functions which specific areas of the brain are concerned with, these functions concern orientation, the ability to control and inhibit automatic responses to external stimuli (“impulsive” responses), memory, etc.

The functions implicated in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are:

  • the arousal or alert system that includes those areas of the brain are able to make the individual ready to react to new environmental stimuli, interrupting the physical or mental activities in progress;
  • the orientation system , which controls the ability to orient oneself on a particular object or situation, “canceling” or attenuating the perception of stimuli that are not considered important or relevant to the present task;
  • the executive functions that allow the choice between the various possible behaviors or mental activities in a manner relevant to the external situation, coordinating the behaviors;
  • self-control regarding the ability to inhibit certain responses and behaviors, in order to allow the continuation of ongoing activities;
  • retrospection and prediction in order to achieve a goal, remembering the goal, defining what it takes to achieve it and support motivation.

In the first six years of life, the executive functions are performed externally, i.e. children verbalize aloud or use concrete tools to perform the assigned tasks (e.g. counting with the fingers), then subsequently, the so-called working memory, which is initially verbal becomes non-verbal and the tasks are carried out through acquired cognitive automatisms.

Development and ADHD

In other words, during elementary school, children learn to internalize the executive functions, learn the ability to reflect on themselves , follow rules and instructions, to build “mental systems” to understand the rules; subsequently they learn to regulate their attention processes and motivations , to defer their response and to regulate themselves.

In subjects with ADHD, the ability to retrospect, predict, prepare and imitate complex behaviors is compromised. The maturation of the non-verbal working memory and other executive functions, the internalization of self-directed speech, the self-regulation of the level of attention and motivation are also compromised. Furthermore, the ability to decompose the observed behaviors and the recomposition into new targeted behaviors is also compromised .

The therapeutic intervention

Therapeutic intervention implies a multidisciplinary response that includes both a behavioral, psychoeducational and sometimes pharmacological approach. The intervention should include supportive psychotherapy to cope with the emotional repercussions originating from relationship difficulties and success in life, due to the disorder itself, as well as psychological support for the caregivers of the subject affected by this disorder.