Adhd Should We Be Medicating Children Essay

1688 words - 7 pages

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is classified as a psychological disruptive behaviour disorder, frequently prominent in young children, which according to 'The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2011)' currently affects 3-5% of all American children.The resulting behavioural complications associated with ADHD can impinge heavily on a child's ability to uphold academic, social, emotional, and psychological aspects in life, as it interferes with their capability to implement age-appropriate procedures, both cognitive and behavioural (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2010).Such behaviours indicating ones possession of ADHD are divided into two types, hyperactivity-impulsivity, and inattention. Thus there are three sub-types of the disorder, which correspond to the symptomatic behaviours a child may demonstrate. The tree sub-types are: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominately inattentive, and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive. The majority of children diagnosed with ADHD are diagnosed with the combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive sub-type (National Institute of Mental Health, 2011). Symptoms or key behavioural indicators of ADHD in young children commonly fall within the categories mentioned above, inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. This can include a combination of traits consisting of; forgetfulness, distractibility, fidgeting, restlessness, impatience, difficulty sustaining attention in work, play, or conversation, or difficulty following instructions and completing tasks (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc, 2011). In order to be diagnosed with ADHD a child must experience six or more of these traits to a degree that is more severe than that experienced by most other children their age.As it is normal for nearly all young children to experience small amounts of these kinds of behaviours, ADHD can commonly be misdiagnosed.At this point in time, the exact cause of ADHD in young children is still unknown, whilst there are many theories and presumptions indicating aspects of genetic, environmental, and physical factors to cause the onset of the disorder, no final result has yet been established. Similar to many other disorders, the cause of ADHD is presumably due to a combination of factors (National Institute of Mental Health, 2011).There is strong evidence to support that genetics may be a fundamental factor in the cause of ADHD in young children. Statistics say, if a parent has the disorder, there is up to a 40% chance the child will also develop it (NWHRC Health Center, 2006). The most prominent research to support the hereditariness of ADHD is associated with gene continuation, the transfer of brain functions and features from relative to relative. This can be supported by the recognition that the problems associated with ADHD result from subtle differences in the functioning of the brain (Green & Chee, 1995).Most notably, children with ADHD develop thinner brain tissue in the areas of the brain associated with attention, such as the frontal lobe. (Martin, 2007). Furthermore, those afflicted with the disorder have also been found to have an unusual imbalance or lack of, the message-transmitting chemicals present in the brain, the 'neurotransmitters' (Green & Chee, 1995).The link between genetics producing differences in a child's neurobiology and the cause of ADHD can be seen through the fact that the frontal lobe region of the brain as well as the neurotransmitters in the brain (e.g. Dopamine), play vital roles in the management of similar functions such as initiation for action, impulse control, general behaviour, decision making, attention, learning, social and sexual demeanour and numerous other roles (Centre for Neuro Skills, 2011). Therefore it can possibly be inferred that differences or lack of these brain functions and chemicals, inherited though genetics, may possibly cause the onset of ADHD.In addition to genetics, there is also obdurate evidence to support that environmental factors and or the upbringing of a child may also play an imperative role in the cause or severity of ADHD in young children. The majority of studies suggest that factors such as smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy, complications during pregnancy, and exposure to high levels of lead as an infant (National Institute of Mental Health, 2011), may result in pathological conditions or further alterations in brain functions, therefore conceivably causing or amplifying the disorder.The supposition that ADHD may be caused or intensified by smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy is most prevalent in today's society as paint and plumbing fixtures no longer contain lead, making exposure to high levels of the substance, somewhat unlikely (Schoenstadt, 2011).The act of smoking or use of alcohol during pregnancy has proven to lead to a pathological condition called hypoxia, affecting the foetus in utero by restricting oxygen, possibly altering brain functions, and inturn heightening the risk of the development of ADHD. Although unlikely, high exposure to lead as a child can also affect children quite severely, and can conceivably amplify ADHD and its symptoms (Martin, 2007).The numerous impinging behavioural, emotional, and social complications imposed by this disorder create the need to alleviate the burden of these complications. With ADHD, this alleviation comes most commonly, in the form of medications called 'stimulants' (National Institute of Mental Health, 2011). Whilst medications for children with ADHD have various positive benefits, the medicinal and ethical considerations of medicating such young children with 'stimulants' must be assessed.There are equal positive and negative arguments when assessing the use of stimulant medication on young children. The positives being that, many children may experience reduction and even elimination of the negative behavioural symptoms, children may improve scholastic and social skills without frustration or complication and patients may even gain heightened self-esteem and confidence, therefore possibly further improving various aspects of childhood (Quinn, 2009). Additionally, stimulant medication is greatly significant in the process of teaching a child appropriate and suitable behavioural techniques, as attention and concentration are essential for learning and retention, things ADHD sufferer's may not normally be able to sustain (Kent State University, 2003).However, whilst there are benefits to stimulant medication, drawbacks are also present. The most prominent deficiency of stimulant medication is its side effects, as stimulants are known to possibly cause short-term side effects including loss of appetite, insomnia, dizziness, moodiness and even some growth problems. Long-term side effects such as deficits in future height and weight may also raise concern for the future life of ADHD sufferers (Quinn, 2009). Moreover, these medications, whilst proven to be non-addictive, can generate a psychological dependency for the child, also creating the possibility of withdrawal symptoms in the instance of discontinuing medical treatment. This type of medication does not necessarily work effectively for every patient either, statistics say, only 70-80% of children with ADHD will actually respond positively to stimulant medication (Kent State University, 2003).Lastly, the highest consideration to be taken when vacillating on the decision to medicate such young children is the rate and frequency of misdiagnosis, which in this case, is quite high.With no accurate cause, no existing cure, elevated rates of misdiagnosis, and boundless controversy surrounding the disorder, stimulant medication used on children afflicted with ADHD, whilst helpful for some, merely augments the subjectivity and may generate additional health tribulations for families and children to contend with.Reference ListArthur Schoenstadt, MD. (2011). Causes of ADHD. Retrieved August 5th, 2011, from eMed TV: Martin, Psy.D. (2007). Causes of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Retrieved August 3rd, 2011, from Psych Central: for Neuro Skills. (2011). Frontal Lobes. Retrieved July 26th, 2011, from TBI Resource Guide: Britannica, Inc. (2011). attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved July 5th, 2011, from Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Library Edition:, D. C., & Chee, D. K. (1995). Understanding ADD. Australia, New Zealand: Doubleday.Kent State University. (2003). Medical Treatments for ADHD Children. Retrieved August 8th, 2011, from Institute of Mental Health. (2011). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Retrieved July 3rd, 2011, from National Institutes of Health: Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2010). NINDS attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder information page. Retrieved August 7th, 2011, from Health and Wellness Research Centre: Health Center. (2006). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Overview. Retrieved August 3rd, 2011, from Helath & Wellness Resource Centre:, M. (2009). Pros and Cons of ADHD Medication on Children. Retrieved August 8th, 2011, from Health n Medical:


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