This web site was created for use by students in PSY 501.  The material on these pages is not intended for use by individuals not enrolled in that course.



Attention Deficit Disorder

(A teachers guide to ADD)

As an infant and toddler, Max never liked to be left alone. He was gregarious and active. When he learned how to walk, it was almost impossible to childproof the house, Max was so fast. Cute as he was, it was exhausting to take care of him. As one of his baby-sitters said,somewhat vengefully, after a long night with Max, "You have a very high-maintenance baby."

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is one of the most common childhood disorders,affecting approximately 5% of school age children, or at least one child in every classroom. Although there is no published literature on teachers knowledge and attitude towards ADD, they are frequently involved in the assessment and treatment process. Attention Deficit Disorder is a syndrome which is usually characterized by serious and persistent difficulties resulting in:
a) poor attention span
b) weak impulse control

ADD also has a subtype which includes hyperactivity (ADHD). It is a treatable (note not curable) complex disorder which affects approximately 3 to 6 % of thepopulation (70% in relatives of ADD children). Currently, the diagnostic category of ADHD reflects a conceptualization in which motor and cognitive components co-exist. ADHD involves heightened motor activity, impulsivity, deficits in attention, and deficits in rule-governed behavior. In addition to the cognitive and behavioral components, ADHD ofteninvolves a relatively high association with conduct problems and aggression.(Kendall 1993) Boys with ADD tend to out number girls by 3 to 1, although ADD in girls is under-identified. The term ADD is usually referring to ADHD. ADDwithout hyperactivity is also known as ADD/WO (With Out) or UndifferentiatedADD.

What is the nature of the cognitive dysfunction in ADHD?

That impulsive children often act without thinking is generally accepted and has been widely researched for decades. These children nevertheless have many essential features in common. Researchers traced the difficulties of hyperactive children to deficiencies in the "mechanisms that govern (a)sustained attention and effort, (b) inhibitory controls, and (c) the modulation of arousal levels to meet task or situational demands." Inattention and impulsivity are twosymptoms of ADHD that are cognitively related.

Is this a new Disease?

No. It has been identified in medical literature more than 100 years ago. A popular German tale (Hoffmann's "Struwel Peter") written in rhyme for children portrays a child with ADHD. Although not identified specifically asADD, we can now take our knowledge of the disorder and link it topeople in history who fit the ADD profile.

What other names are associated with this disorder?

- Minimal brain dysfunction (MBD) -
Conduct disorder [used in Britain -not the same implications as the North American reference the Diagnosticand Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 3rd Edition, Revised (DSM-III-R)].
- Hyperactivity (hyper-kinetic)

ADD has many negative connotations and unfortunately because of this, allthe wonderful characteristics people with ADD possessare overlooked. This is ironic, as people with ADD need more positive reinforcement than others.

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This web site was originally created by Daryl Jerabek in 1999.