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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (cont.)

Can ADHD Be Seen in Brain Scans of Children With the Disorder?

Neuroimaging research has shown that the brains of children with ADHD differ fairly consistently from those of children without the disorder in that several brain regions and structures tend to be smaller. There is also a lack of expected symmetry between the right and left brain hemispheres. Overall, brain size is generally 5% smaller in affected children than children without ADHD. While this average difference is observed consistently, it is too small to be useful in making the diagnosis of ADHD in a particular individual. In addition, there appears to be a link between a person's ability to pay continued attention and measures that reflect brain activity. In people with ADHD, the brain areas that control attention appear to be less active, suggesting that a lower level of activity in some parts of the brain may be related to difficulties sustaining attention. It is important to reiterate that these laboratory observations are not yet sufficiently sensitive or specific enough to use to establish or confirm the diagnosis of ADHD or to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Can a Preschool-Aged Child Be Diagnosed With ADHD?

The diagnosis of ADHD in the preschool-aged (under 5 years old) child is possible, but it can be difficult and should be made cautiously by experts well trained in childhood neurobehavioral disorders. A variety of physical problems, emotional problems, developmental problems (especially language delays), and adjustment problems can sometimes imitate ADHD in this age group. It is certainly not mandatory that the preschool-aged child showing ADHD-suggestive symptoms be placed in a preschool. The first line of therapy for children of this age showing ADHD-like symptoms is not stimulant medication therapy but rather environmental or behavioral therapy. This type of therapy can be carried out in the home with appropriate training supplied to the parents. If the child is to be placed in a preschool, the caretakers must be equally trained in the techniques of behavioral therapy. Stimulant therapy can reduce oppositional behavior and improve mother-child interaction, but it is usually reserved for severe cases or used when a child does not respond to environmental or behavioral interventions.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/14/2016
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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder »

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental condition of inattention and distractibility, with or without accompanying hyperactivity.

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