Attention Deficit Disorder / Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)

Attention deficit disorders are considered to be a neurobiological disability that interferes with a person’s ability to sustain attention or focus on a task and to control impulsive behaviour thus impacting on learning successes. While we may all have difficulty sitting still and paying attention at times this disorder is so chronic and persistent that it gets in the way of all aspects of life.

Current research has shown that AD/HD is caused by a deficiency of specific neurotransmitters in a specific set of brain circuits. Depending on which areas of these circuits are involved, the person may be distractive, impulsive or hyperactive. These disorders are not related to gender, level of intelligence, or cultural environment but have been found to have a high co-morbidity with learning disabilities.

The diagnosis of AD/HD is based upon 6 (or more) characteristics that have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is chronic and inconsistent with the development level. A comprehensive evaluation by a medical doctor or psychologist is needed to rule out other causes and make a diagnosis. For further information please select this link – add fact sheets from LDAC.

Features of ADD/ADHD

The primary features of attention deficit disorders include the following observations:

  1. Difficulties with selective attention, including easy distractibility;
  2. Difficulty with impulse control;
  3. Problems with maintaining task-related activities;
  4. Excessive physical and mental restlessness;
  5. Difficulties with planning and / or organization of cognitive (thinking) tasks;
  6. Problems in recognizing and responding to social cues;
  7. Difficulties in following rules or directions;
  8. Low frustration tolerance.

These symptoms are sometimes expressed in a different manner, the most common of which are found in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual”, third edition revised, of the American Psychiatric Society. Another version of the criteria for diagnosis is found in the “International Classification of Diseases”, tenth edition, of the World Health Organization (Appendix II).

Source: This definition is supported by a background fact sheets from the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, March 2005. For more information please select this link.