A story from my memory: “X” was only five years old when I saw him for the first time. A smiling face greeted me to enter his house. I cuddled him, held his hand and stepped inside. Within few minutes, he ran away. While I was talking to his mother, he came atleast for thirty times to give me a look and then went away. Once I called him and asked to sit beside me, he did. But he couldn’t stop himself from moving hands, legs, eyes in a restless manner. I asked him about his favourite pass time, he replied (with a little calmness all over) watching wrestling games. Within a while, we became good friends. I started visiting his house quiet often. Everyday he used to return from school with a list of complaints. His parent was frustrated, depressed, disgusted. I told them to consult a doctor but they had a strong belief that whatever was happening, was just because of his childishness! They eagerly waited for the moment he would become matured! Years passed, he grew up, albeit situation remained the same. Rather it got more complicated! Now he is 28, he is an academic failure, an inconsistent professional and an addicted personality. He is confused about his own life. A year before, his parents took him to a doctor, where for the first time, they came to know that their son is a longtime sufferer of ADHD.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a state of mind that superficially deviates from a normal condition, but not well addressed as a disorder in social context!!! Biologically it is a neurodevelopmental complication. Worldwide, about seven out of hundred are affected. In India, the prevalence rate is quiet high among school goers.
As the name indicates, the primary manifestations are in the form of age inappropriate hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. The disorder mostly has a childhood onset, between three to seven years of age, but often can start around the age of twelve. There is a less common adult variant as well.
The children suffering from ADHD are often miss understood for their excessive agility, disobedience and disruptive behaviours. Since many are unaware of the actual scenario, these children are frequently stigmatised as “spoilt child”. Irresistible agility for most of the children (but not all) appears as the first concern for parents. This excessive agility often mask more alerming deficits in higher order mental functions like learning, memory, reasoning, self control, which develop slowly with time. Apart from the core issues, they are also prone to develop addiction, mood swings, oppositional behavior. Adults are inconsistent in social, professional and personal life ( similar to “X”).
Starting from familial predisposition to early age toxic exposure, all add some percentage of risk for developing ADHD. But the disorder ultimately flourishes itself through a faulty attention network. Since attention is a core mental function involved in almost every task, the children having a weak attention network suffer from major executive dysfunction leading to lack in organising and prioritising tasks. The misleading fact is that their agility (hyperactivity) is reduced with age. This often lead to a false hope for parents that everything would get back to normal soon. But, it didn’t happen to “X” and doesn’t happen in many of the cases!
As a general process of development, motor movements are less stringently controlled during earlier age and so children are agile by nature. Once brain starts maturing, our conscious execution holds a grip on motor activities, movements become contextually relevant. It means, while we grow up, we develop the sense “when to stop and when to go”. But in case of ADHD, brain maturation is delayed, so what a healthy brain can function in 7 years, their brains can do close to 9.5 years. More certainly this delay in development leads to changes in different brain circuits. Thus all together, ADHD brain suffers from a perplexed condition!
This is how a simple story of overtly agility remains as a tip of an iceberg in these children! Timely medication, non invasive therapies, constant monitoring and a tricky parenting can make a huge difference. On top of everything, awareness is a must. Without awareness, the stigma of “spoilt child” would never go off. The parents of such children will always be ashamed and embarrassed. They would never get the required social support!
*All children are special. They have every possibility to flourish themselves. Nurture each of them as “Special one”!*