Upon shadowing a fourth grade teacher at Deer Ridge Elementary School, I decided to talk with her about the students in her classroom. Mrs. Riley first set the scene of the school for me by stating that it was in the southwest suburban area of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and this particular school was not hurting for money. She then began to explain the different children in her classroom. There were twenty-eight students from a variety of different backgrounds. There were also two students with ADHD. My first thought was, "What exactly is ADHD?" and, "Would these two children stick out from the rest of the students in the classroom?".
These questions are commonly asked by people who are unfamiliar with ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD children have specific symptoms, in which no one is certain as to what causes these symptoms to occur. Some ADHD children do have other problems associated with this disorder, for example behavioral and social problems. Children with ADHD might stand out from other children, only if they have not had the proper treatment prescribed for them.
ADHD is the "developmental failure in the brain circuitry that underlies inhibition and self-control" (Barkley, 1998), or "inability to inhibit thoughts"(NIMH, 1996), that affects about five percent of school age children (McEwan, 1998). Loss of control and thought may be believed to be caused by certain impaired brain functions that are important for children to maintain attention. The prefrontal cortex, caudate nucleus, and globus pallidus are three parts of the brain that are involved with regulating attention (Barkley, 1998).
In a Scientific American article, entitled "Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder", is a picture of the brain structures, which is shown below. It shows the cerebellum, in which the prefrontal cortex is located, in the frontal lobe, just behind the forehead. It serves as the brain’s command center, that helps with "editing" behavior, resisting distractions, and developing awareness (NIMH, 1996). The caudate nucleus and globus pallidus, which are more commonly known as the basal ganglia, are located near the middle of the brain. They are "at least two of the clusters of nerve cells deep in the brain" (Barkley, 1998). The caudate nucleus and globus pallidus translate the commands, given by the prefrontal cortex, into action (NIMH, 1996). Researchers have found that these parts of the brain, which are in the right hemisphere of the brain, are smaller in children with ADHD than in children without this disorder (Barkley, 1998). The right hemisphere of the brain is normally larger than the left hemisphere, but some researchers have thought that due to this abnormality in ADHD children that this could be a cause of the disorder (Barkley, 1998).
Another hypothesis that has been considered for the cause of ADHD is genetic inheritance. It is stated in Barkley’s 1998 article in...