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ADHD Research

ADHD is a disease that has received a large amount of attention in research papers at Paper Masters. Paper Masters has several writers that are experts in researching ADHD from both the medical perspective and the educational perspective. Below is an article that was written by one of our writers regarding ADHD. This is a sample of how to write a research paper on ADHD. There is no citation within the ADHD research paper; make sure your research is cited properly and all statistical data is given due credit.

An ADHD research paper points out that children who suffer with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have difficulty concentrating for long periods of time, have short attention spans, and may have difficulty with schoolwork. These primary grade students also be subject to emotional outbursts. Additionally, the research paper shows that these children suffer from hyperactivity, which can make them more difficult to handle in the classroom situation. In the last decade, more ADHD research papers have focused on this disorder than ever before.

Diagnosing ADHD

According to CHHAD, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder impacts a significant percentage of the childhood population. The disorder is believed to be biological although environmental and social factors may contribute to the degree of symptoms experienced. There are many different approaches researchers use to investigate the causes and consequences of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, including the family system theory, the psychodynamic theory, and behavioral and neuropsychological theories. Additionally, there are several paths to treatment. All of these methods help expand the body of knowledge concerning the disorder and present new avenues for treatment.
A wealth of research is devoted to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). One reason for this is the growing understanding of the behavioral and neuropsychological aspects of the illness. ADHD is a brain disorder that affects approximately 10 percent of children. Although there is a growing body of knowledge concerning the disorder there is still no single method used for diagnoses.

Medical professionals use the behavioral characteristics listed in the DSM-IV as a starting point. The DSM-IV lists nine behavioral characteristics for ADHD. In order to make a diagnosis of ADHD the child must exhibit six of the symptoms for a period of at least 6 months, with some of the symptoms appearing before the age of 7. Despite a list of symptoms, diagnosing ADHD is still subjective in nature, with the medical professional required to make judgments on whether or not the symptoms exhibited are to the degree necessary for an ADHD diagnoses.

Diagnosing ADHD is further complicated by the fact that it is most often coupled with other psychiatric disorders as well as learning disabilities. These psychiatric disorders include:

Teenagers who do not receive treatment are at increased risk for alcohol and drug abuse. Approximately 45 percent of children with ADHD experience some form of language impairment. Others exhibit learning disorders, dyslexia, and motor problems.

Currently, researchers are trying to understand the genetic and neurochemical factors associated with ADHD. There is a general consensus that ADHD usually involves a number of factors although there is disagreement on whether biological or environmental factors are the primary cause of the symptoms of the disease. Most researchers tend to believe ADHD is primarily a biological disorder that is complicated by factors in the environment.

According to neuropsychologic studies, children with ADHD have prefrontal executive function deficits. These deficits account for some of the problem behaviors, including the inability to concentrate, hyperactivity, restlessness and responses not warranted by the environmental or social setting. In past studies on ADHD children researchers found it is the neuropsychological dimension and not the impulsive or hyperactive dimension that determines the level of neuropsychologic impairment.

Studies involving the use of magnetic resonance imaging show differences in the brains of children with ADHD compared to children who do not have the disorder, particularly in the frontal-subcortical system. The studies indicate that in children with ADHD, the cerebral volume is smaller (about 5 percent); the frontal lobe volume is smaller; regions of the basal ganglia are smaller; the right caudate nucleus is smaller than the left caudate nucleus in some children with the disorder; there is a reduction in the area of the posterior corpus callosum or the area of the anterior and; there is a decrease in the size of the cerebellum. These studies indicate that biological factors rather than environmental factors play a determining role in which children will develop ADHD.

ADHD

Origins of ADHD

Research papers on ADHD state cite a nationwide survey conducted in 1997 and 1998 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found that nearly 1.6 million elementary children have been diagnosed with ADHD. According to the study findings presented in the ADHD research paper, many children diagnosed with ADHD also suffer from at least one type of learning disorder. Additionally, three times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with ADHD, and the disorder is more common among whites than other ethnic groups. The conclusion of the research paper on ADHD is that the prevalence of the disorder among American children has focused research on new and better methods of treatment.

Researchers believe genetics play a role in the development of ADHD. Studies indicate that ADHD tends to run in families. For example, if the parents have ADHD there is a 50 percent chance their children will have ADHD. Types and amounts of chemicals present in the body are determined by genes. Some researchers believe that in ADHD individuals neurotransmitters do not function properly or the amount of neurotransmitters may be deficient. This would produce the biological conditions necessary for the impacted individual to lose the ability to control mood and to exhibit self-control.

Researchers have long explored the behavior of children as a consequence of family dynamics. According to the family systems theory children who grow up with overly critical parents tend to develop lower levels of self-esteem and “act out” or withdraw while children of attentive, supporting parents exhibit more desirable behaviors. Research argues that while a large number of researchers have studied family dynamics in relation to ADHD, these studies are remarkably tilted toward the interaction between the mother and son with very little page space dedicated to discussing the father’s role and attitudes. One reason studies tend to focus on boys as study subjects may be due to the differences in prevalence rates among the sexes. Boys are diagnosed with ADHD at a rate that varies from 6:1 to 12:1 depending on the study consulted.

In a search of the PSYCH info database Paper Masters found that of the large number of studies regarding families and children with ADHD, 8 percent included fathers as study subjects and only 3 percent included fathers and daughters. A great majority of the literature published on ADHD since 1990 focuses on mothers and sons. Singh argues one reason for this is the tendency of researchers to link a son’s problematic behavior with the actions and attitudes of the mother. However, several studies indicate that mothering behaviors are a consequence of ADHD symptoms in the child rather than the causing factor. Understanding the role of family dynamics in ADHD syndrome is more difficult when the father is absent from initial diagnostic sessions, follow-up sessions, and research studies. There are several possible reasons for the exclusion of fathers in attempts to understand and diagnose ADHD. The first is that researchers believe a mother’s behavior has a greater impact on children. For example, previous studies show that depression experienced by the mother has a significant impact on the problem behaviors exhibited by a child while a father’s depression does not. Moreover, mothers tend to exhibit more stress and anxiety concerning the problematic behaviors related to ADHD than do fathers. Additionally, studies indicate that in general, ADHD boys tend to behave better for their fathers than for their mothers. As a result, fathers of children with ADHD may not realize the full behavioral aspect of the disorder.
Other studies suggest that ADHD children are better behaved when the fathers adopt a more authoritarian parenting style.

ADHD children with authoritative fathers demonstrate fewer antisocial behaviors toward other children. In a study to investigate the importance of the father in diagnosing and treating children with ADHD, outcomes are more likely to be positive and the diagnosis more complete when the father is involved in the process, even when fathers and clinicians disagree on the specific causes of ADHD. However, problems arise when the father blames a child’s ADHD on the permissive parenting style of the mother and refuses to explore other possible factors. Another problem arises when one parent views the child as overactive and difficult while the other parent believes the child is simply energetic. A parent’s view of the child’s behavior may also conflict with a teacher’s assessment.

ADHD and the Family

Paper Masters contends there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that some disorders are more common in families characterized as dysfunctional or in environments characterized with high levels of adversity. However, the researchers note there is less evidence linking the level of family dysfunction and environmental stress to ADHD. The researchers claim there is two main reasons for the lack of data concerning the level of family functioning and its impact on ADHD. First, researchers find it difficult to measure the link between the two and second, most child practitioners view family functioning and environment as contributory or exacerbating factors on ADHD behaviors.
Many studies do not show a difference in the characteristics of families with ADHD children. Further, children with ADHD are more difficult to control, which may alter parenting styles. In other words problematic parenting styles may be a result of the disorder rather than a cause of the disorder. In situations where the parents respond to the ADHD child with increased levels of control and criticism, the child is at increased risk for developing other disorders such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or conduct disorders. Other evidence suggests there is a direct link between the level of family adversity and dysfunction and the level of ADHD symptoms exhibited.

Parenting styles and how a child is raised cannot cause ADHD. While parenting styles and behaviors can exacerbate or help solve the seriousness of the problem, a child will not develop ADHD unless he or she is biologically predisposed. This theory, while not shared by all, is fairly common in the literature pertaining to ADHD. Most agree that environmental influences appear to be an important factor yet one that is secondary to the biological causes.
The psychodynamic approach to ADHD holds that a child’s interpersonal development, psychosomatic experiences, and intra-psychic development are interrelated. The psychodynamic approach holds that all behavior has meaning and is a form of communication. The behavior of the child is always related to context, whether it be expressing their inner fantasies, their hopes and dreams, or as a response to external pressures. In other words, the psychodynamic approach provides a method of viewing the ADHD child’s behavior in relation to their bonding and interaction experiences with others. The psychodynamic approach places a strong emphasis on environmental and social factors that exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD. Moreover, the approach views behavior as constantly changing over time, which provides medical and mental health experts with another method of analyzing the behavior of the ADHD child. Experts using the psychodynamic approach pay special attention to the timing of behaviors, the timing of the emergence of new behaviors, the characteristics of the family, the characteristics of the child’s environment, and the child’s internal thought processes.

There is some evidence to suggest ADHD can be acquired due to environmental and social factors. It is impossible to tell the difference between acquired and biological ADHD. Children suffering from both forms exhibit the same behaviors and characteristics and both types can be treated with the same types of medication. The view expressed by Voeller is not one found widely in the literature related to ADHD.

There is an ongoing debate as to the best method of treatment for individuals with ADHD. In a two-year clinical trial on ADHD involving 103 children aged 7 to 9 years old researchers found psychosocial treatment alone may be an ineffective treatment. The children in the study were divided into three groups. The first group of children was treated with the stimulant Ritalin; the second group received Ritalin, behavioral therapy, parent training and academic assistance; and the third group received therapy in “attention control” and Ritalin. The psychosocial training involved the use of videotapes and direct interaction in an effort to teach children social skills in group settings. All of the children demonstrated improvement during the trail. However, the evidence indicated the psychosocial treatments made little difference in the outcome. The researchers concluded there was no evidence to suggest drug therapy plus psychosocial treatments provided a better outcome than drug therapy alone. The results are troubling in that there is evidence that drug therapy does not work for all individuals with ADHD.

When a child is diagnosed with ADHD the primary physician usually assumes control over the course of treatment. Although the treatment plan may include the involvement of parents, educators, psychologists and social workers, it is the primary physician who is responsible for prescribing and monitoring medication for the treatment of ADHD. The involvement of other sources of help are the most beneficial when the disorder results in unhealthy levels of family dysfunction, problems at school, or when the parents are at a loss as to how to best manage the ADHD child.

The involvement of a psychologist in ADHD cases is often beneficial in that most ADHD children suffer from psychological problems. Psychotherapy teaches children how to deal with unresolved feelings as well as how to control undesirable behaviors. Psychotherapy is beneficial in teaching ADHD children why their thought patterns and responses tend to differ from their peers. Most importantly, psychotherapy can help resolve problems between the parents and the child that arise due to family dysfunction or as a result of ADHD. Anna Freud stated the importance of psychotherapy on a family level is due to the fact that the problems of the child impact the entire family and vise versa.

Most experts agree that ADHD is a biological disorder that tends to run in families. However, there is also evidence to suggest environmental and social factors play a role in the degree of ADHD symptoms experienced and exhibited. The best treatment option is still medication, although psychotherapy to treat ADHD is gaining in popularity. Children who are not diagnosed and treated are at increased risk for developing other problems in childhood and adolescence, which confirms the need for continued research on the causes, consequences, and possible treatment options for ADHD.

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