Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
by Keri Spielvogle, M.C.D., CCC-SLP
Among parents and educators, there are a lot of questions regarding the difference
between two commonly diagnosed childhood disorders, CAPD (Central Auditory Processing
Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). When should the
child receive speech therapy? How can I help this child? What exactly are the symptoms
of each? Am I doing the right thing? Who do I turn to?
The previous handout focused on children diagnosed with Central Auditory Processing
Disorder (CAPD), and as in the previous handout, the purpose of this handout is
to provide parents, educators, and therapists with a general overview of the causes,
symptoms, diagnosis methods, and treatments for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder). Hopefully, a comparison of the two using these handouts will provide
a much clearer understanding of these similar childhood disorders.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: I UNDERSTAND what you say, I just CAN'T
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects many children. Generally, a child
afflicted with this disorder can understand oral and written commands/directions,
but is unable to effectively complete the tasks due to the inability to focus on
the tasks for extended periods of time.
Although this is a common childhood disorder, scientists still have not isolated
one cause of ADHD. Some feel that there may be a genetic component, with studies
indicating an increase of occurrence if a child has one or more parents demonstrating
characteristics of ADHD. Also, studies show that children diagnosed with ADHD
have brain areas smaller in ratio than children without the disorder. Also, some
studies link maternal smoking during pregnancy to a higher incidence of ADHD. Others
feel that ADHD is often a misdiagnosis due to children exhibiting signs and symptoms
of daily stressors including divorce, a recent move, etc. Others feel that ADHD
is a misdiagnosis.
Children diagnosed with ADHD may exhibit all or some of the following symptoms.
(Again, this list is to serve as a general guideline and some children may present
with other symptoms.)
- Easily distracted (unable to complete tasks due to inability to attend).
Impulsive (acting without planning for consequences).
- Inability to attend, even
- Difficulty following directions, poor organizational skills,
tendency to lose things, and forgetting things frequently.
- Some children may
also exhibit signs of stubbornness, temper, defiance, or may have a diagnosis of
a specific language disorder.
The proper diagnosis of ADHD must come from a licensed health professional, such
as a medical doctor. The health professional has a list of behavioral characteristics
a child with ADHD may exhibit.
This handout intends to be a generalized list of treatments. Your child's health
care provider will determine and implement the proper treatment for your child.
- Medication (psychostimulants)
- Behavioral Therapy – "teaching" parents/teachers
how to work with the child to make the best environment, focusing of reinforcement
ratios for negative and positive behaviors, and modifying the child's school, social,
and home environment.
- A combination of each of these.
CAPD and ADHD are similar and sometimes difficult to identify in children. The
best way to treat children with either disorder is to educate yourself, familiarize
yourself with the child's strengths and weaknesses, and provide individualized instruction.