Neurological Diagnosis and Treatment for Learning Disabilities

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Clinical Reference Guide:
What We Diagnose, How We Diagnose and Treatment Options

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Disorders We Diagnose and Treat
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adults
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Digital EEG and Evoked Potentials Assessment (DEEP)
Cognitive Guidance for High Achievers
Developmental Coordination Disorder
Learning Disabilities
Speech and Language Disorders
Physical Therapy

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adults

What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that begins in early childhood and may continue into adulthood. Being restless and very easily distracted are the most common features of the adult disorder. It is often called by an older name, attention deficit disorder (ADD). Between 3% and 7% of all school age children have ADHD. Some children with ADHD will carry symptoms into their adult years.

How does it occur?
The cause of this disorder is unknown. Both genetics and factors in the environment may play a role. Research suggests that it may have a biological cause. People with ADHD have several small differences in their brain structure. These differences are in the front part of the brain (an area involved in self-control) and in some parts in the center of the brain.
ADHD runs in families, especially through the males in the family line. Research continues in an effort to find out why it occurs in those without a family history.

What are the symptoms?
There are 3 main symptoms of ADHD:

  • Trouble focusing and short attention span. If you have ADHD, you are very easily distracted by things you see or hear around you. You will often begin a task but then become distracted before the task is completed. Distractibility is the main problem for many adults with ADHD.

  • Poor impulse control, or impulsiveness (having a hard time with patience and waiting). With this symptom, you often react to things quickly and without thinking of the outcome. You may tend to interrupt others in conversations, begin tasks without enough planning, and be impatient. Impulse buying, impatience in driving, starting too many projects, and being very quick to anger are common. You may have social problems caused by being aggressive, loud, or impatient in groups and conversations.

  • Hyperactivity (excessive movement). If you are hyperactive, you are always on the go and constantly restless. You seldom sit still, and even when sitting, usually fidget or play with things. You may dislike activities such as watching movies or playing a quiet game of cards. You also tend to become bored very quickly. You may have difficulty slowing down at night to get to sleep.

Symptoms may change from childhood to adulthood. The most common changes occur during adolescence and are a reduction in hyperactivity and better self-control. Difficulties with attention change the least between childhood and the adult years.

For many people, childhood ADHD leads to other difficulties during adolescence and adulthood. Children who are hyperactive and have poor impulse control may be more likely to develop other mental health problems than those whose only symptom is being easily distracted. The most common problem for adults with ADHD is depression. Other problems include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Learning disorders
  • Manic-depression (bipolar disorder)
  • Personality disorders (such as borderline personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder)
  • Impulse control disorders (such as gambling addiction)
  • Explosive anger

About half of children with ADHD also have serious behavioral problems such as defiance or aggression. Many adults who have ADHD continue to have behavior problems.

About one-third of children with ADHD have trouble learning to read or do math. Some adults with ADHD continue to have problems with reading, writing, or math.

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