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Attention Deficit Disorder Mini Fact Sheet


Description: Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects 3-5 percent of all American children. It interferes with a person's ability to sustain attention or focus on a task and some patients may be unable to control impulsive behavior. Some of the warning signs of ADD include failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and school work, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, leaving projects, chores and homework unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to both minor and important details.

Treatment: The usual course of treatment may include medications such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) or pemoline (Cylert), which are stimulants that decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity and increase attention. Most experts agree that treatment for ADD should address multiple aspects of the individual's functioning and should not be limited to the use of medications alone. Treatment should include individual tutoring, parent education (to address discipline and limit-setting), and individual or group behavioral therapy (or both) for the child.

Prognosis: There is no "cure" for ADD. Children with the disorder seldom outgrow it; however, some may find adaptive ways to accommodate the ADD as they mature.

Research: Several components of the NIH support research on developmental disorders such as ADD. Research programs of the NINDS, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) seek to address unanswered questions about the causes of ADD, as well as to improve diagnosis and treatment.

These articles may provide more in-depth information on ADD:

"Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Recent Literature." Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 40:7; 699-707 (July 1989).

"Attention Deficit Disorder: Current Perspectives." Pediatric Neurology, 3:3; 129-135 (1987).

"Attention-Deficit Disorder in Adults." Clinical Therapeutics, 14:2; 138- 147 (1992).

"Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder--Residual Type." Journal of Child Neurology, 6; S44-S50 (1991).

"Diagnosis and Management of Attention Deficit Disorder: A Pediatric Perspective." Pediatric Clinics of North America, 31:2; 429-457 (April 1984).

Information may also be available from the following organizations:

Children with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD)
499 NW 70th Avenue, Suite 109
Plantation, FL 33317
(305) 587-3700

Challenge, Inc.
P.O. Box 488
West Newbury, MA 01985
(508) 462 -0495

National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc.
281 Park Avenue South, Suite 1420
New York, NY 10016
(212) 545-7510

Learning Disabilities Association of America
4156 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
(412) 341-1515
(412) 341-8077

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Building 31, Room 2A32
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
(301) 496-5133

National Institute of Mental Health
Parklawn Bldg, Room 7C02
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857-8030
(301) 443-4515

Information provided by the NIMH.