ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and DAMP (Deficit in Attention, Motor control and Perception) are both diseases under the group of hyperkinetic disorders.
Hyperkinetic disorders are characterized by:
- They occur early in childhood.
- The children find it difficult to maintain attention in activities that require thinking and switch from one activity to another.
- The children act spontaneously without common sence and attention,
Hyperkinetic disorders may be accompanied by disturbances in the children's language and body coordination.
ADHD is a disease, which mainly consists of an attention/awareness disorder. In addition some of the ADHD children display symptoms of hyperactivity. ADHD is a term for disturbances in both the attention, motoric ability and hyperactivity. See also DAMP.
It can sometimes lead to confusion with the different names for almost the same disease. Therefore, it may be beneficial to know the background to the names ADHD, DAMP and hyperkinetic disorders.
Those who have described the diseases early have named them differently.
In United States the disease is called ADHD, while in Europe the term hyperkinetic disorder or disturbances is used. The Scandinavian countries have elected to describe attention disorders with the initials DAMP. It has been the consensus so far, but recently ADHD has gradually become more commonly used.
New guidelines for what to call the disease and diagnostic methods,are on the way.
There are a number of children with ADHD, which meets the criteria of ADHD, while many ADHD children have DAMP symptoms.
The cause of ADHD and DAMP is a malfunction in the brain. This malfunction is believed to be due to hereditary conditions, smoking and/or alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Lack of oxygen at birth, may also be the reason.
There is a significant overrepresentation in boys. ADHD and DAMP are relatively frequent illnesses. Up to 5% of new school entrants may have ADHD or DAMP in varying degrees.
Symptoms of ADHD and DAMP
Awareness/attention disorder, spontaneity, restlesness and hyperactivity are the key words when describing the symptoms of ADHD and DAMP. The symptoms occur early. ADHD children also have problems with the perception of their own body coordination in relation to their surroundings.
The children seem confused and find it difficult to process sensory input. They will find it difficult to follow in school, not because of poor intelligence, but because they cannot maintain attention. The language skills can be poorly developed.
In some cases, children have problems with temperament and frenzy, which can lead to frequent physical fights in the school.
The children might suffer from poor self esteem, as they do not believe that they can do anything right, and that everything is against them. Anxiety and nightmares occur.
Diagnosis of ADHD and DAMP
The child's symptoms must persist in different situations to varrant the diagnosis. For example attention disorder might not only be present in the school but also at home as it could otherwise just be signs of other social problems.
The diagnosis is made after careful observation and study of the child in various situations. It is extremely important to rule out other causes of the child's symptoms. Information from relevant persons at home, at school and day institution are important.
Precautions for ADHD and DAMP
Parents, educators and teachers should be advised and taught the nature of this condition. The child's schooling should be assessed on whether there is a need for special education.
Treatment of ADHD and DAMP
In the event of insufficient effect of coaching and attention medication might be used for example Ritalin. The medicine works in a short time of around 2-4 hours, and the child must be dosed several times during the day. The treatment is effective, but should be stopped around puberty because of the risk of dependence and abuse. See also the treatment of DAMP children .
Development of ADHD and DAMP
Many will have attention and concentration problems in adulthood, and will find it difficult to maintain a job. Some do well, but some develop dyssocial personality and become criminal and depressive, and drug addiction can develop.