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The Diagnosis, Etiology and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/hyperactivity Disorder from a Neuroscience Perspective

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Introduction

The Diagnosis, Etiology and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/hyperactivity Disorder from a Neuroscience Perspective Tesni Rowlands Deakin University Waurn Ponds Subject: HPS395 Clinical Neuroscience Assignment: Assignment 1 Essay Student No.: 700165229 Unit Chair: Dr Eric Koukounas and Dr Alexander Mussap Submitted: 6 May 2010 Word Count: 1500 Abstract The diagnosis, etiology and treatment of ADHD are clouded in controversy. The underlying causes of ADHD are still unknown, and heated debates continue as to the origin of the disease. The medical model remains to be the most common form to diagnose and treat ADHD, as neuroscientific research suggests abnormalities in genes, neural activity and brain activity. However, behavioural checklists are used to diagnose a child with ADHD, such as the DSM-IV. Once behaviourally diagnosed with ADHD, these children are given small doses of stimulant medication which is said to be effective, however, harmful long term symptoms are beginning to be identified. While caution should be used when prescribing medication, the socio-cultural perspective believes that the medical perspective is too relaxed regarding prescribing stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin, to children who show behavioural signs of ADHD. Furthermore, the socio-cultural perspective contends that ADHD is a myth created by intolerant parents and teachers of over active children and medication is only used due to the relationship between the medical community and the pharmaceutical companies. ...read more.

Middle

climbs excessively", "Often has difficulty playing quietly" and "Often fails to give close attention to details or makes mistakes in schoolwork" (Stolzer, 2007). Such terms are hard to operationalize and keep consistent across medical professionals, and may therefore differ when diagnosing children from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. When treating children with potentially harmful medication, a complete understanding of their condition should be mandatory and medication should be approached with caution until a better biological understanding of ADHD can be concluded. Six or more of the following signs of inattention have been present for at least 6 months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level (either column A OR column B, but not combined) Column A Column B Inattentive: 1. Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities. 2. Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities. 3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly. 4. Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions). 5. Often has trouble organizing activities. 6. Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn't want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework). ...read more.

Conclusion

Behavioural checklists are used to diagnose a child with ADHD, such as the DSM-IV, however the diagnostic criteria have changed frequently and criteria is subjective in nature. Furthermore, children who are diagnosed with ADHD are given small doses of stimulant medication which has been said to be effective; however, harmful side effects and long term symptoms are beginning to be identified and are raising concern. Caution should be used when prescribing medication, however the medical profession continue to prescribe Ritalin frequently. An alternate view to the neuroscience perspective is the socio-cultural perspective, which believes that the medical community is too relaxed regarding prescribing stimulant drugs to children with ADHD. Furthermore, the socio-cultural believes that ADHD is a myth created by intolerant parents and teachers of over active children and that the prescription of medication will continue due to the relationship between the medical community and the pharmaceutical companies. While the socio-cultural perspective may appear ignorant of scientific research, it is possible that a combination of this and a lack of understanding of the biology behind ADHD is at the heart of all the controversy. Therefore, before instantly medicating children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, further neuroscientific research into the biology and behaviour in children diagnosed should be examined to completely understand the impact biology has on ADHD. Once these issues have been resolved, some of the controversy surrounding this topic may become clear allowing a more comprehensive understanding of ADHD. ...read more.

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