Memory is a very intriguing part of daily living. It is very necessary. However, to memorize something can turn out to be difficult. On the other hand, memory can also decline with aging. This is known as Dementia. Nevertheless, there are simple tricks to improve memory. Using these memory-enhancing techniques can help improve your ability to learn new information and retain the information over time.
One of the golden rules of learning and memory is a repeat, repeat, repeat. The brain also responds to novelty, so repeating something in a different way or at a different time will make the most of the novelty effect and allow you to build stronger memories. Examples of using repetition include:
1. Taking notes 2. Repeating a name after you hear it for the first time 3. Repeating or paraphrasing what someone says to you
A day planner or smart phone calendar can help you keep track of appointments and activities and can also serve as a journal in which you write anything that you would like to remember. Writing down and organizing information reinforces learning.
Try jotting down conversations, thoughts, experiences. Review current and previous day’s entries at breakfast and dinner. If you use a planner and not a smartphone, keep it in the same spot at home and take it with you whenever you leave.
Learning faces and names is a particularly hard task for most people. In addition to repeating a person’s name, you can also associate the name with an image. Visualization strengthens the association you are making between the face and the name. For example:
Link the name sandy with the image of a beach, and imagine sandy on the beach.
When you are having difficulty recalling a particular word or fact, you can cue yourself by giving related details or ‘talking around’ the word, name, or fact. Other practical ways to cue include:
Using alarms or a kitchen timer to remind you of tasks or appointments. Placing an object associated with the task you must do in a prominent place at home. For example, if you want to order tickets to a play, leave a newspaper ad for the play near your telephone or computer.
When you’re trying to remember a long list of items, it can help to group the items in sets of three to five, just as you would remember a phone number. This strategy capitalizes on organization and building associations and helps to extend the capacity of our short-term memory by chunking information together instead of trying to remember each piece of information independently. For example:
If you have a list of 15 things on your grocery list, you can group the items by category, such as dairy, produce, canned goods, and frozen foods.
These are some simple tricks to improve memory.
Dementia can knock on the doorstep of even the middle aged.
Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder, with its pathogenesis in neurodevelopmental anomalies. The 5 domains of schizophrenia include:
Positive symptoms (delusions, hallucinations).
Ubiquitous cognitive deficits
Motor symptoms (dyskinesias).
Deficits in social cognition, or socio-occupational functioning.
Negative symptoms include blunted affect, alogia, avolition, asociality, amotivation, anhedonia, ideational constriction, apathy or inertia, and abulia.
Blunted affect: This refers to the decreased intensity and repertoire of emotional expressions.
Alogia: This refers to the paucity in the speech content that is evident in patients of schizophrenia.
Avolition: This refers to the deficits in initiation and maintenance of goal-directed behaviors.
Anhedonia: This is the decreased ability to experience and anticipate pleasure, or pleasurable emotions. Recent studies have pointed out that patients with schizophrenia have the ablility to enjoy the pleasurable experience. However, they display a lack of wanting to experience these pleasurable pursuits or enjoyable experiences. Consummatory hedonia is the ability to experience an emotion. Also, anticipatory hedonia is the want to experience a pleasurable pursuit. Patients with schizophrenia display anticipatory anhedonia. However, negative symptoms have not been unique to schizophrenia alone.
Classification of Negative Symptoms:
Deficits in the brain circuitry concerning reward (nucleus accumbens), motivation and pleasure are the reason for negative symptoms.
Negative symptoms are further classified into:
Enduring Primary Negative Symptoms: The enduring primary negative symptoms can consistently present over long periods of time, despite fluctuations in other aspects of the disease. These enduring primary negative symptoms constitute what is called the deficit syndrome in schizophrenia.
Transitory Secondary Negative Symptoms: Secondary negative symptoms can occur transitory in nature, fluctuate largely over the course of the illness, and abate with reduction in the other aspects of the disease.
What Causes Secondary Negative Symptoms?
These are secondary to positive symptoms. That is, if a patient hears voices commanding him not to venture out of his home, lest he is attacked by his arch nemesis, such an individual is bound to stay at home for the fear of being attacked. Such an individual will also limit his social interaction, and display paucity in his speech content. People mistake this for apathy and alogia. However, in fact it is a reflection of the aftermath of auditory hallucinations, a positive symptom.
Secondary negative symptoms are attributable to chronic social deprivation. This is evident in patients who are chronically institutionalized in asylums. Such long bouts of social isolation serve to remove all motivation in these individuals to interact with the outside world, especially at a time when they are overwhelmed by their illness, and are unable to integrate their inner perceptual experiences. Chronic institutionalization comes across as a severely under-stimulating environment.
Lastly secondary negative symptoms may be due to medications themselves. In medical terms, it is called neuroleptic-induced dysphoria. The medications which are used to treat a psychotic breakdown cause a reduction in the levels of the happy hormone serotonin, and this may produce a depression like picture. However, this is not to be confused with the post-psychotic depression that is commonly seen after a psychotic episode. Although the treatment does not differ in both these scenarios, recognition of the individual clinical scenario has important prognostic ramifications. In theory, risk of exacerbation of the psychotic symptoms exists, when the post-psychotic depression is treated with antidepressants.
Indeed, deficit syndrome or a clustering of these negative symptoms entails a poor quality of life, and impaired socio-occupational functioning.
Subsequently, individuals become unproductive, and lead a life of social isolation and deprivation.
The motivation to go out and do something beautiful, achieve a target, strive towards betterment of oneself diminishes and stops. Also, work towards a greater good of one’s community, all day to day goals in the lives of a regular individual, cease to exist.
Degree of Future Negative Symptoms:
Firstly, Among the strongest predictors of the degree of future negative symptoms is Duration of Untreated Psychosis, or DUP.
Thus, DUP refers to the time lag between the appearance of the first psychotic symptoms, and the treatment sought for these symptoms.
However, greater the duration of the untreated psychosis, greater is the future occurence of negative symptoms and cognitive deficits.
Indeed, an individual with a substantial cognitive reserve offers some protection against the cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, and dementia.
Since the nature of these cognitive deficits is ubiquitous, these may be evident as early as the prodromal phase of schizophrenia.
Indeed, greater the volume of grey matter loss, greater is the cognitive deficit syndrome. Also, greater the duration of untreated psychosis, greater is the grey matter volume loss.
Psychosocial interventions: Indeed, this is as important as psychopharmacological interventions. Thus, forming support groups, and meeting at regular intervals of these groups is important. Nevertheless, these group meetings give voice to individual experiences and problems. So, thereapists give encouragement to client participation. Assessment is done of the progress so far. Therapists also ascertain the goals for the future.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Therapists aid the clients in recognizing cognitive distortions. Subsequently, they help in unlearning older maladaptive behaviors, and focusing on learning newer adaptive ones. Individualized therapy is suitable. Because, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Studies consistently show that individual therapy is better than group therapy in the treatment of negative symptoms.
Cognitive remediation therapy for cognitive deficits: This includes pencil-paper tasks, sudoku, crossword, computer exercises. Therapists tailor some of the exercises to focus on deficits in individual domains like attention, speed of thought processing, verbal working memory, reasoning, and social cognition.
Others: Thus, aerobic exercises help in neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and modulate neuroplasticity.
In fact, Amisulpiride and Fluoxetine treat the negative symptoms. Amisulpride increases levels of the hormone prolactin in the long run. Hyperprolactinaemia can set the precedent for osteoporosis.
However, recent studies have shown that Clozapine has the highest level of evidence in the management of negative symptoms. With Clozapine, the improvements can be visible even after 6 months of initiation of treatment.
Moreover, Clozapine trial requires regular monitoring of the White Blood Cell counts, and causes constipation, weight gain, salivation, postural hypotension, and palpitations as common side effects.
Brain Stimulation Techniques:
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Firstly, TMS of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has proven to be very effective in the treatment of negative symptoms.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). However, it is not as effective for negative symptoms, as it is for depression and positive symptoms.
Novel Treatment Approaches:
Emerging molecular targets – These include GABAergic modulation, targeting oxytocin receptors (implicated in the social cognition deficits in schizophrenia, along with mirror neurons). Also, countering neuroinflammation by using cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors like Rofecoxib. Others include – NMDA (N-Methyl-D-Aspartate) antagonists like Memantine, Glycine-reuptake inhibitors like Bitopetrin, and Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 2/3 agonists like Pomaglumetad. Memantine, Bitopetrin and Pomaglumetad come under the purview of glutamatergic modulation.
There is definitely hope for those afflicted with the deficit syndrome, with researchers identifying a plethora of molecular targets.
With age, most body organs begin to deteriorate in their function. Therefore, memory loss with age is not uncommon. Nonetheless, this happens to the brain too. Thereby, it reduces the overall speed of functioning of most organs. While slowing of bodily movement is visible, the internal organs functioning also slows down. However, this is not that obvious.
Memory loss or dementia is one of the main manifestations of this degeneration of the brain.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The associated symptoms includes reduced reasoning abilities and cognitive defects. Although, it is seen only in the elderly, not all elderly people will have Alzheimer’s. Consequently, the overall quality of life of the affected person is reduced. Thus, there is difficulty with remembering things that were recently learned. It is a progressive disease and as it gets more severe, a full-time caretaker may be required.
In fact, the brain cells are affected by protein masses known as plaques and tangles. Thus, these hamper the way communication between the brain cells happens. Consequently, these also affect nutrition from reaching all parts of the brain. However, this leads to shrinking of the brain, eventually leading to memory loss and other problems. In addition, there is also a strong genetic linkage, as most people with Alzheimer’s have the lipoprotein A gene.
Though memory loss with age is the most common symptom, there are other symptoms:
Being confused about places, people, and times
Inability to find the right words during conversations
Regular objects are misplaced
Becoming irritable, (in someone who was not so previously)
Inability to organize thoughts
Not able to make the right decisions
Repetitive talks and actions
Forgetfulness (not something the person always does)
Difficulty with numbers (again, not something calculations
Difficulty managing everyday tasks and minor problems
Suspicion of others (like immediate family members and friends)
While age is definitely a risk factor, the fact that not all aged people develop Alzheimer’s is to be borne in mind. Nevertheless, other risk factors include the history of stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and poor lifestyle choices.
Whereas, there is no definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s, symptoms can indicate disease. In addition, brain scans and neuropsychological function testing are useful ways to confirm the diagnosis.
Hence, treatment is aimed at two things reducing the rate of disease progression and treat (or reverse) symptoms if possible.
The exam season has arrived. And so has Exam Anxiety and Phobia.
Students can be seen immersed in their books and notes.
Excitement is in the air and so is anxiety.
While the former is a good thing to see, the latter raises concerns in the minds of parents and teachers. However, the fact is that anxiety before exams is a normal thing.
The pressure to perform will make students experience nervousness. Indeed, this is alright, but only if it is up to a limit. If it reaches an unhealthy level, it needs to be managed.
If a student experiences the following symptoms before exams, then the anxiety is unhealthy. and it is time for a session with a psychiatrist.
Difficulty in breathing
These symptoms are an indication of the student being in the grip of panic and fear.
Nevertheless, it can be managed and controlled with the following tips.
Make a study plan for preparation: In some cases, students get anxious because they are not ready with the preparation. However, just days before the exam, they feel at a loss. They become anxious as to how they will answer the questions in the exam. To avoid this, students should make a plan for preparation. Indeed, devoting adequate time to each topic so that the entire syllabus is covered and their preparation is complete.
Meditate and try breathing techniques: Meditation is a great relaxation technique that soothes the mind and body. Also, taking deep breaths (inhaling and exhaling). Example for 15 to 20 minutes can go a long way in controlling the symptoms of anxiety. In addition, meditation gives you confidence, removes negative thoughts and also improves your concentration and memory.
Exercise regularly: Getting involved in physical activity before an exam seems like a waste of time to many. However, it is necessary to avoid tension and stay healthy. So, if sports cannot be indulged into, one should go for exercises such as stretching and aerobics. Indeed, they relax the tensed muscles and keep fatigue at bay.
Eat green vegetables and light food: Eating healthy is also important during exam preparation. If one skips meals or takes recourse to fast foods, it makes anxiety worse. In fact, junk food makes one drowsy. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are light and easy to digest. They also provide complete nutrition and ensure the sustained release of energy during the study sessions.
Sleep well: Many students compromise on sleep. They think that it would help in studies. However, lack of sleep leads to poor focus and concentration which further affects the studies. It also makes one irritable and drowsy. So, one should make sure that one is getting 6 hours of sleep every day.
Exam anxiety and phobia, is not an uncommon phenomenon. In fact, a small amount of anxiety is a good thing. Indeed, it acts as it motivates one to perform better. It leads to nervous energy which keeps one alert. However, the moment it gets out of hand, it is a cause for concern. So, one must seek help if one is experiencing the anxiety symptoms and follow the above-mentioned tips. It will surely help a student. Call your counselor or child psychiatrist to learn more.
Exams and Concentration difficulties are all too common. ADHD, CDD, short-term memory loss, forgetfulness, insomnia and so many more terminologies we would have come across very often.
They all seem to have evolved from a common origin and that is concentration issues. Have you pondered on these questions!! Why can’t it be easy to concentrate? Why can’t it be easy to remember everything? If yes, then read on to know more.
Concentrate! Focus! Pay attention! These are not just words but one huge and complicated process in itself. Many children and as well as adults often develop this issue wherein they find extremely difficult to concentrate.
Science behind exams and concentration difficulties:
When an individual performs a single task; for example reading a book, the image of what he is seeing hits the retina. From the retina, the nerve fibres carry the image to the brain which stimulates the brain cells to fire an action potential. The signal from here moves to the thalamus and proceeds to the visual cortex. This signal activates locus coeruleus which is a brain stimulant. It targets the particular area of the brain becoming the deciding factor as to how one responds to a stimulus, which in this case is an image. When there is deregulation of the locus coeruleus, it is then that a person develops disorders like
ADHD, anxiety, depression, insomnia and others.
Factors influencing concentration:
Concentration is a skill that requires you to prioritize your senses while doing any work. It is an ability to block out distractions.
Dedication to the task
Interest in the task
One’s ability to complete the task
Physical and emotional state
Conducive environment with few distractions.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and concentration deficit disorder (CDD)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and concentration deficit disorder (CDD) are the two predominant concentration issues. The first one is more common among the children while the latter is observed in mostly the adults. Any individual with ADHD or CDD can show abnormalities in their behavior and social life.
ADHD individuals tend to be forgetful and face problems sticking to one task and may even display excessive fidgeting. CDD individuals tend to be lethargic, move slowly and have trouble in staying alert. Adults may become socially withdrawn and exhibit slow information processing.
Solutions for concentration issues:
Concentration issues require a lot of time to be overcome. You can try to figure out what causes the distractions and avoid them as much as possible by refocusing your mind only on what you are doing. You can give yourself timers which comprise of “distraction time” and “focus time”. This strategy helps if one’s mind is actively processing other things.
You may also create subtasks by listing the things you need to do and then ruling out one by one once you accomplish them.
Always breathe better and try for long inhalation and exhalation. This helps to bring down your anxiety levels which hinder the concentration.
Though the above-mentioned strategies are just to help you improve your concentration they are not the ultimate cure for any of the issues.
Every individual is unique and sometimes accepting oneself can solve many complications as it reduces the need for unnecessary thinking. Always bear positive thoughts in your mind as it will act as a driving source.
As a parent, you feel a special deep panic when you realize that your child—your beautiful, clever, funny child, who regularly surprises you with precocious bons mots, who built an ingenious bow out of tubing and rubber bands that can shoot a chopstick across the living room with remarkable accuracy—is having trouble learning to read.
Meanwhile, all the other kids appear to be breezing along, polishing off Harry Potter books while your child stumbles over the difference between “how” and “now.” You don’t want to be one of those hysterical parents who gets all crazy about every little developmental bump in the road, but, hey, your kid can’t really read yet, and the others can. In your darker moments you feel the desolate urge to ratchet down your ambitions for your child from valedictorian to graduating at all. So, How to Help Your Child with reading disorders Learn to Read…
Such fears may be exaggerated, but they’re not irrational. Reading ability does predict school achievement and success (which is, of course, related to income, health, and other factors), and reading gains ever greater importance beyond school, as more jobs are now based on information and technology. Failure to read places significant limits on how one fares in other parts of life. And a lot of people never do learn to read well: Approximately 40 percent of fourth grade children in the United States lack basic reading skills; 20 percent of all graduating high school seniors are classified as functionally illiterate (meaning that their reading and writing skills are insufficient for ordinary practical needs) ; and about 42 million adults in the United States cannot read. So, you’re not nuts to take a reading problem seriously.
Now for some perspective. First, let’s take a moment to recognize that compared with the development of oral language, the acquisition of reading is unnatural. Speech and the ability to understand speech can be considered the result of a natural process in the sense that the requisite skills emerge without formal training. Several species of animal employ sounds such as clicking, whistles, song, or foot tapping in a fashion that constitutes focused and targeted communication (and dolphins actually seem to have names for one another). Before children can speak fluently, they move from sounds to words, words to phrases, and so on, acquiring their growing expertise from exposure to the speech around them. They then make efforts to speak, with little formal guidance. By contrast, children must be taught to read.
The good news for kids who have trouble reading is that while a deficiency in reading may look like an across-the-board failure, it is often a local problem in just one or two of the components that add up to the ability to read. Reading, like golfing or playing the guitar, is not one big global skill but a constellation of many smaller ones. When we read fluently, the little skills weave together so seamlessly that they look like a single expertise.
There are components to – How to Help Your Child Learn to Read – It is important to look at the components because a holdup in the development of any single one may be at fault in a child’s poor performance in reading. If we can identify the component that’s not doing its share, we can do a great deal to improve reading.
The components that make up reading are interrelated and overlapping, but distinguishable:
Vocabulary: knowing the meanings of words. A child’s comprehension of what is read depends on this. Better vocabulary better prepares a child for reading.
Comprehension: understanding and being able to interpret what is read, connecting the printed words and sentences with human experience.
Phonological awareness: identifying and manipulating units of oral language, such as words, syllables, onsets, and rimes. Children who have phonological awareness can recognize that sentences are made up of words, words can be broken down into sounds and syllables, sounds can be deleted from words to make new words, and different words can begin or end with the same sound or have the same middle sound(s).
Decoding: breaking down words into their constituent sounds and building words from those sounds. This begins with blending sounds (“puh” plus “al” equals “pal”) and extends into sounding out words the child has never seen before by recognizing the sounds of letters and syllables that form them.
Fluency: reading smoothly with accuracy, speed, and expression that conveys the sense of what’s being read.
As a parent with no particular professional expertise in teaching literacy, there’s a lot you can do on the level of normal play and routine home life to promote reading—and without turning it into a chore or a high-pressure struggle.
To start with:
Parents can begin working on the components of reading when their child is still an infant and extend the process throughout childhood. To begin with, the more the child knows about oral language, the better. When she begins to read, she will draw upon a reserve of expertise that she first built up as a speaker and listener: vocabulary, comprehension, phonological awareness, connecting words to things.
With infants, talk to the child and encourage him to make a range of talk like sounds. Begin reading to the child, and keep books around, including some within the child’s reach. Do what you can to make reading fun, enjoyable, peaceful, and engaging, setting the stage for what comes next at the toddler level. You are building command of sounds, love of reading, and an appreciation of the value and importance of books.
With toddlers and pre-schoolers, it helps to connect reading to some routine such as bed time, nap time, or a pre or after meal lull. Select topics she likes; let the child select books for you to read. Get in the habit of activities or games that rhyme and otherwise play with sounds: songs, jingles, made-up phrases (e.g., “Billy is silly” to catch the rhyming sounds, “Sally sounds silly” to catch the sound of the initial S). Nursery rhymes are especially rich in words, rhyming, and other fundamentals. Talk about a greater range of subjects, even very mundane ones—like pointing to the parts of a car or animal in an illustration and labelling them.
As you read, stop and ask a gentle question: “What do you think Babar is thinking here?” or “What do you think will happen next?” These are great for comprehension. If the question is too difficult, offer a little more guidance by attaching a statement: “I’ll bet Babar is a little lonely. What do you think would make him feel better?” Also, you can encourage your child to experiment with writing, which helps reading because she uses sounds to try to write the word. You might see the child write “sn” for “sun,” a great start that shows awareness of sounds and the breakdown of words into sounds.
How to Help Your Child Learn to Read:
As your child continues in elementary school and begins to work hard during the school day on reading, it’s a good idea to continue reading with and to him, mixing in casual writing practice (some kids will go for the idea of alternating entries in a journal with a parent) and talking over dinner and in other family settings about what the child has read.
If there’s a series of books that speaks to one of your child’s enthusiasms, helping him get into that series will allow him to become familiar with continuing characters and engage with a larger story, which makes even new books seem familiar.
Keep a dictionary around and easily accessible, and use it once in a while. Thus, inviting your child to do this with you. The dictionary not only reinforces vocabulary and comprehension, it helps your child decode words. Hence, by showing that they are composed of syllables that can be sounded out.
Make up word games to play while driving or in a store. “Think of words that sound like snow” is good for a first or second grader. However, you can work up to more complicated games for older children. If you make the play competitive (if your family is into that), please resist the temptation. The temptation to rattle off 50 words in a row and then do your special taunting wiggly victory dance.
And, of course, continue to show by your actions. Not just your pronouncements – that reading is engaging, relevant, and a path to fresh experiences. Keep books around where your child can pick them up in the natural course of things. And don’t forget to pick up a book yourself. Model the desired intimacy with books; don’t just preach it.
You can’t add becoming a fulltime reading tutor to the already fulltime demands of parenting. Nonetheless, children will vary in interest, ability, and attention. So, you’ll inevitably have to select just a few of the many possible activities to promote reading skills. In general, go for regularity—a little almost every day. And, as part of a routine that links reading to the more relaxed moments in the day. Rather than a Shakespeare marathon one Saturday a month. That is How to Help Your Child Learn to Read.
And when setting priorities, bear in mind that two activities are clearly the most critical:
Firstly, read aloud to the child. So, it shows that reading is important, part of everyday life, and fun. Also, it allows you to model the basic component skills. However, it’s fine to read the same books over and over, as many children like to do. Research indicates that repeated readings help a child to integrate words better; comprehend meaning; and connect sounds, words, and meaning. Even on the 50th time through the same story, interact during the reading to bring the child into the activity. “What is Pooh doing? What do you think is in the jar?”
Secondly, help the child understand that letters are related to sounds and that words can break down into sounds. Finally, the child’s reading will advance by being able to sound out words, not by memorizing individual words. There are alphabet books to help you work with your child to connect letters to sounds. In the middle of reading, stop and sound out a word. “Let’s sound this out together: Err … un. Run! He’s getting ready to run.”
Reading may be important and complex and very scary when your child has trouble with it. However, parents should take heart. And remember that mundane low-pressure practice during games and other activities with you can make an enormous difference. Even a slightly increased sensitivity to breaking down sounds or rhyming may help. Also, a slightly heightened familiarity with books and motivation to engage with them, can provide a significant boost at school. Reading preparation is at the top of the list of factors that make a difference in school achievement. Such preparation need not – and should not – feature threats, severity, and drudgery. Instead, help your child to read by doing what you do anyway. This includes, playing with him, talking with her – in a slightly more purposeful manner. How to Help Your Child Learn to Read may be difficult. Indeed, you may need a school counselor or a child psychiatrist.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
Inattention means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence,
has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized; and these problems
are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension.
Hyperactivity means a person seems to move about constantly,
including in situations in which it is not appropriate; or excessively
fidgets, taps, or talks. In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or
wearing others out with constant activity.
Impulsivity means a person makes hasty actions that occur in the
moment without first thinking about them and that may have high
potential for harm; or a desire for immediate rewards or inability to
delay gratification. An impulsive person may be socially intrusive and
excessively interrupt others or make important decisions without
considering the long-term consequences.
Signs and Symptoms
Inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity are the key behaviours of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Some people with ADHD only have problems with one of the behaviours, while others have both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Most children have the combined type of ADHD. In preschool, the most common Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptom is hyperactivity. It is normal to have some inattention, unfocused motor activity and impulsivity, but for people with ADHD, these behaviours:
are more severe
occur more often
interfere with or reduce the quality of how they function socially, at school, or in a job
People with symptoms of inattention may often:
Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
Have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores,
or duties in the workplace or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get
Have problems organizing tasks and
activities, such as what to do in sequence, keeping materials and
belongings in order, having messy work and poor time management, and
failing to meet deadlines
Avoid or dislike tasks that require
sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens
and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms or reviewing
Lose things necessary for tasks or activities,
such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys,
paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
Be easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
Be forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments
People with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may often:
Fidget and squirm in their seats
Leave their seats in situations when staying seated is expected, such as in the classroom or in the office
Run or dash around or climb in situations where it is inappropriate or, in teens and adults, often feel restless
Be unable to play or engage in hobbies quietly
Be constantly in motion or “on the go,” or act as if “driven by a motor”
out an answer before a question has been completed, finish other
people’s sentences, or speak without waiting for a turn in conversation
Have trouble waiting his or her turn
Interrupt or intrude on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities
Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
This requires a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed clinician, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or child psychiatrist with expertise in ADHD. For a person to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be chronic or long-lasting, impair the person’s functioning, and cause the person to fall behind normal development for his or her age. The doctor will also ensure that any ADHD symptoms are not due to another medical or psychiatric condition. Most children with ADHD receive a diagnosis during the elementary school years. For an adolescent or adult to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms need to have been present prior to age 12.
ADHD symptoms can appear as early as between the ages of 3 and 6 and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD can be mistaken for emotional or disciplinary problems or missed entirely in quiet, well-behaved children, leading to a delay in diagnosis. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have a history of poor academic performance, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships.
ADHD symptoms can change over time as the person ages. In young children with ADHD, hyperactivity impulsivity is the most predominant symptom. As a child reaches elementary school, the symptom of inattention may become more prominent and cause the child to struggle academically. In adolescence, hyperactivity seems to lessen and may show more often as feelings of restlessness or fidgeting, but inattention and impulsivity may remain. Many adolescents with ADHD also struggle with relationships and antisocial behaviours. Inattention, restlessness, and impulsivity tend to persist into adulthood.
Scientists are not sure what causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Like many other illnesses, a number of factors can contribute to ADHD, such as:
Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or drug use during pregnancy
Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy
Exposure to environmental toxins, such as high levels of lead, at a young age
Low birth weight
ADHD is more common in males than females, and females with ADHD are
more likely to have problems primarily with inattention. Other
conditions, such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorder, conduct
disorder, depression, and substance abuse, are common in people with
Treatment and Therapies
While there is no cure for ADHD, currently
available treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve functioning.
Treatments include medication, psychotherapy, education or training, or a
combination of treatments.
For many people, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. Medication also may improve physical coordination. Sometimes several different medications or dosages must be tried before finding the right one that works for a particular person. Anyone taking medications must be monitored closely and carefully by their prescribing doctor.
The most common type of medication used for
treating ADHD is called a “stimulant.” Although it may seem unusual to
treat ADHD with a medication that is considered a stimulant, it works
because it increases the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine,
which play essential roles in thinking and attention.
Under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe. However, there are risks and side effects, especially when misused or taken in excess of the prescribed dose. For example, stimulants can raise blood pressure and heart rate and increase anxiety. Therefore, a person with other health problems, including high blood pressure, seizures, heart disease, glaucoma, liver or kidney disease, or an anxiety disorder should tell their doctor before taking a stimulant.
Talk with a doctor if you see any of these side effects while taking stimulants:decreased appetitesleep problemstics (sudden, repetitive movements or sounds);personality changesincreased anxiety and irritabilitystomach-achesheadaches
A few other ADHD medications are non-stimulants. These medications take longer to start working than stimulants, but can also improve focus, attention, and impulsivity in a person with ADHD. Doctors may prescribe a non-stimulant:
when a person has bothersome side effects from stimulants;
when a stimulant was not effective;
or in combination with a stimulant to increase effectiveness.
Although not approved specifically for the treatment of ADHD, some antidepressants are sometimes used alone or in combination with a stimulant to treat ADHD.
Antidepressants may help all of the symptoms of ADHD and can be prescribed if a patient has bothersome side effects from stimulants.
Antidepressants can be helpful in combination with stimulants if a patient also has another condition, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or another mood disorder.
Doctors and patients can work together to find the best medication, dose, or medication combination
Adding psychotherapy to treat ADHD can help patients and their families to better cope with everyday problems.
Behavioural therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help a person change his or her behaviour. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events.
Behavioural therapy also teaches a person how to monitor his or her own behaviour give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting
Parents, teachers, and family members also can give positive or negative feedback for certain behaviours and help establish clear rules, chore lists, and other structured routines to help a person control his or her behaviour.
Therapists may also teach children social skills, such as how to wait their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the tone of voice in others, and how to respond appropriately can also be part of social skills training.
Cognitive behavioural therapy can also teach a person mindfulness technique, or meditation. So, a person learns how to be aware and accepting of one’s own thoughts and feelings to improve focus and concentration. The therapist also encourages the person with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting, or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks.
Family and marital therapy can help family members and spouses find better ways to handle disruptive behaviours, to encourage behaviour changes, and improve interactions with the patient.
Education and Training
Firstly, children and adults with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents, families, and teachers to reach their full potential and to succeed. So, for school-age children, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family before a child is diagnosed. However, parents and children may need special help to overcome negative feelings. Thus, mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it affects a family. In addition, they also will help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.
Secondly, parenting skills training (behavioural parent management training) teaches parents the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviours in their children. Thus, it helps parents learn how to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child’s behaviour. So, parents are taught to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviours they want to encourage, and ignore or redirect behaviours that they want to discourage. Finally, they may also learn to structure situations in ways that support desired behaviour.
In addition, stress management techniques can benefit parents of children with ADHD by increasing their ability to deal with frustration so that they can respond calmly to their child’s behaviour.
Support groups can help parents and families connect with others who have similar problems and concerns.Groups often meet regularly to share frustrations and successes, to exchange information about recommended specialists and strategies, and to talk with experts.
Tips to Help Kids and Adults with ADHD Stay Organized
Parents and teachers can help kids with ADHD stay organized and follow directions with tools such as:
Firstly, keeping a routine and a schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime.
In addition, include times for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Also, keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen.
Then, write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.
Organizing everyday items. As such, have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.
Accordingly, using homework and notebook organizers. Therefore, use organizers for school material and supplies. So, emphasize to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books.
Being clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.
In addition, giving praise or rewards when rules are followed. Children with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behaviour, and praise it.
Indeed, a professional counsellor or therapist can help an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder learn how to organize his or her life withtools such as:
Making lists for different tasks and activities
Using a calendar for scheduling events
Using reminder notes
Assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork
down large tasks into more manageable, smaller steps so that completing
each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.