Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a real medical condition, not merely poor behaviour. That’s the message from Dr Helen Boon, a researcher at James Cook University. Whether ADHD is caused by nature or nurture, or a bit of both, is still to be determined, but having this neurological starting point drains the issue of dogmatic speculation and gives it a scientific framework.
ADHD manifests in children aged 6 to 12. Symptoms include problems paying attention, excessive activity and impulsivity. It is diagnosed three times more frequently in boys than girls, and affects between 5 and 7 per cent of children. Management includes behavioural therapies, changes to diet and medication.
“International surveys indicate that many teachers are ambivalent about recognising ADHD as a real disease,” Boon said. “They don’t know how to approach it and they get frustrated. In addition, school resources and support staff such as teacher aides are not automatically provided to children with ADHD unless they have major cognitive impairments or additional disabilities, like autism.”
Boon said she perused 174 neuroimaging studies involving MRI scans, comparing them against a control group, and found differences.
“The brain circuitry in someone with ADHD is different from someone without – no question,” she surmised.
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