Attention Deficit Disorder, though fairly recently recognized as a specific disorder, is one of the most commonly diagnosed and studied problems among young people today. Often ADD is joined in diagnosis with a similar set of behavioral issues and referred to as ADHD—Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
In casual descriptive practice the terms are used interchangeably with the later addition of ADHD being the more common in keeping with current diagnostic language.. Attention Deficit Disorder is characterized by being easily distracted, difficulty following instructions, difficulty with sustained attention, poor ability to organize goal-directed activities, shifting from one uncompleted task to another, and failure to listen attentively to others. ADD is typically diagnosed in the elementary school age group, though it may manifest in teenage years as well.
Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder, as with ADHD, is most effective with a combination of medication and behavioral therapy rather than using either alone. Among the therapies used to ameliorate the effects of attention deficits are psychoeducational therapy, behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and specially tailored school and parent focused training. In addition some children suffering with ADD have been helped by social skills training. The more commonly prescribed medications are various stimulants, which are intended to help children improve focus and attention span. Some children have negative reactions to the medication, and there are some side effects that can be problematic.
Families of children with Attention Deficit Disorder face challenges, including a higher than average divorce rate. Almost half of the children who have attention deficits will fail to finish high school. Some families who object to the medication of their children have turned to diet and lifestyle changes in hopes of obtaining better results, but the effectiveness of these alternative treatments has not been established.
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