Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): What is the latest research telling us?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can have significant ramifications on a child’s life. It can affect how well they do at school and their ability to make and retain friends. Ultimately how well they function in society is influenced by how well they manage this condition.

As research advances, better knowledge leads to better responses to ADHD. We learn about which factors might increase the chances of having ADHD. In time we hope to have definitive answers as to what causes it. 

The research also hopes to improve on current treatments. It will also help to develop and improve resources for those who live with ADHD.

This brief article looks at some of the latest findings concerning ADHD. It is based on research that has come to light in the last eighteen months or so.

ADHD in boys compared to girls

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Boy and girl running

More research needs to be done into girls with ADHD. It does seem that boys with ADHD have more trouble stopping themselves from making certain movements. Boys also tend towards being more hyperactive than girls. They also have greater trouble adjusting to new situations mentally.

Strep throat might make ADHD worse

It seems that the bacteria that causes strep throat could possibly cause some ADHD symptoms to become worse. Impulsiveness and hyperactivity increased in children with ADHD who had had strep throat. Please note only a link has been identified. More research needs to be done to see if strep throat is the cause for increasing traits of ADHD.

Exercise makes a big difference to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - kids playing

Exercise might be an effective natural way to improve mental skills affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Working memory and attention span could be positively impacted. Aerobic exercise seems to be particularly good for ADHD students. It appears that it can help them adjust more easily to new situations. Aerobics also seems to help these pupils think more flexibly.

Researchers studied a group of children from the age of 6 to 10. By the age of 12, girls with ADHD had milder symptoms if they had been exercising regularly. The exercise in view was after-school activities. Those who did not take part in sports after school did not show any improvement. 

High-tech neurofeedback treatment has shown promising results for ADHD

Neurofeedback is a painless process. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s forehead. The patient then responds to cues, such as beeps, or interacting with special video games. The electrodes are used to track the subject’s brain activity. The aim is to see if people can be taught to boost their attention spans by harnessing our brain’s electrical activity.

Parents and teachers rating the results showed positive feedback for children with ADHD. They noted that the symptoms they usually displayed had decreased after these neurofeedback sessions.

There is a downside to all this. According to researchers, people would need about 30 to 40 sessions to show significant improvement. The costs right now for this type of course are very high, in the region of about $4 000 to $6 000. In South African rand terms, that’s between about R60 000 to R90 000, based on a more conservative conversion rate.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and academic performance

ADHD students do not perform as well as other students at a tertiary level. Fewer ADHD students complete college in America than those without the condition. This is especially true of pupils who do not take medication for ADHD. Their grades are also lower on average than other learners.

This highlights the need for students with ADHD to get academic support before going to university. Support should focus on skills that boost mental abilities. Skills like organisation and planning are key to helping people with ADHD do well during and after school.

We have written about the undeniable positive impact remedial education in primary school has on university results. Students with ADHD will benefit from expert teaching already in the primary school years.

Fewer children outgrow ADHD than originally thought

Since the middle of the 1990s it has been believed that a child with ADHD has a 50% chance of outgrowing ADHD. The information at the time seemed to suggest this. It was based on doing a single follow up with adults who had been diagnosed in their childhood.

The culmination of 16 years of research has demonstrated that this is not the case. Children received regular interviews and tests while growing up. This was from the age of 8 to 24. The study found that there are times that the symptoms are more manageable than others. But unfortunately, only 10% of those studied could be said to have completely outgrown ADHD.

It is still unclear what causes the symptoms to flare up. Suggestions have been lack of sleep, lack of healthy eating and lack of regular exercise. Stress and the environment in which children grow up could also be factors. The earlier that children with ADHD get help to deal with its challenges, the more they will be set up to achieve their full potential.

ADHD therapies: to medicate or not to medicate?

New progress continues to be made with medication and ADHD. A new medical drug has shown very promising results in adults. Brain sluggishness, persistent daydreaming and fatigue were all shown to be relieved.

But there is still no silver bullet for managing this condition. The latest findings suggest that both medication therapies and non-medication therapies have a role to play in managing ADHD. A holistic approach is what seems best for those with ADHD.

Some other results…

A new technique making use of machine learning has shown a 99% accuracy in diagnosing ADHD. In another study, a video game showed promise in identifying symptoms of attention deficiency.

The physical differences between an ADHD brain and those without the condition are clearer than ever. Neuroimaging has thrown light on what the differences in brains are. This is further confirmation that children with ADHD are not simply behaving badly. There is a physical reason for their challenges.

Japari is the ideal environment for students with ADHD

Japari’s teachers are experts in dealing with learning challenges. Our staff is equipped to effectively assist a learner with ADHD. We have a range of experts who will provide ongoing assessments. The range of disciplines will mean that results are accurate and unified.

Our classes are kept to a maximum of 15 students. This means the environment is perfect for learners with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. They will be given the attention they need. Distractions are also limited.

Our students each have their own Individual Education Plans (IEP’s). These are specifically formulated to each student’s particular needs. They are monitored and revised each term and will consider any data from assessments. This ensures that each learner is moving towards the correct goals for their academic potential and requirements.

We also have a robust sporting and cultural program. Covid restrictions have interrupted sports. As restrictions ease, we will ensure that sports get back on track, as is appropriate. We encourage each child to participate in at least one sport throughout the year. As we have seen, this will have positive benefits for children with ADHD.

We look forward to meeting your child and seeing them achieve their best potential.

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