Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder that affects 3 to 5 percent of children, at least one child in every classroom in the United States ( There are three core features which characterize a child with ADHD: inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Stephen Hinshaw defines inattention, as related to ADHD, as the inability to sustain attention, specifically with the presence of repetitive stimuli (27). Children with ADHD tire under a demanding workload, particularly when they are not interested. They are easily distracted, both in concentration of thought, and following through actions. Automatic attention may be given to activities they enjoy, however, focusing conscious attention to organizing and completing a task or learning something new is difficult (Understanding the Problem, 5) Hyperactivity or motoric overactivity, Associated features of children with ADHD include: sensitivity to reward, motivational deficits, and interpersonal difficulties.

Scientists have been unable to pinpoint what causes ADHD, however there are some risk-factors and influences which are related to the disorder.

Genetic Factors: Some symptom patterns of inattention and hyperactivity are partially heritable, but there is still room for environmental factors. Perinatal/congenital influences: include low birth weight, prenatal difficulties, disease of infancy, but no specific predictions can be made. Toxic factors may include lead intake, which may disrupt brain development or brain processes and lead to ADHD symptoms (Winshaw, 46). Lastly, environmental influences such as discordant families, may contribute to this disorder, however recent research seems to point more to biological causes rather than environmental causes (Understanding the problem).

ADHD may "co-exist" or be comorbid with other problems/disorders. Ten to thirty percent of children with ADHD have a comoribidity with Learning Disabilities, not to be confused with the underachievement that is often accompanied by ADHD, usually the result of inattention and distractibility of students with the disorder.