Living Well With ADHD Across the Lifespan: How a Multi-Modal Treatment Approach Can Support Its Management

Living Well With ADHD Across the Lifespan: How a Multi-Modal Treatment Approach Can Support Its Management

Tsuyoshi Imasaka (Sunrise Behavioural Health, Australia), Jahirul Mullick (RMIT University, Australia) and Rajesh Jay Sharma (Sunrise Behavioural Health, Australia)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5495-1.ch009
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Abstract

Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are drawn against a number of challenges including staying on task or taking extended time to complete, having trouble listening attentively, or difficulty sitting still. In the past, it was thought that children with ADHD would eventually outgrow the symptoms of the disorder. However, children generally continue to show symptoms of the disorder well into adulthood. The presence of ADHD transforms over the course of a person's lifespan, and the way in which the disorder affects children also changes dramatically when they are older. In adults, one of the core difficulties is executive functioning, which results in restlessness, disorganisation, deviating attention, procrastination, impulsive decision making, and more. In order to prevent the development and escalation of more deviant behaviours, early assessment and treatment program for ADHD should be considered from young age. A highly effective treatment practice for ADHD is a multi-modal approach that combines both pharmacological and behavioural interventions.
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Introduction

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder, has adverse effect on many aspects of life of a person. It was considered earlier that ADHD is a condition which children could have, and then grow out of it before they reach adulthood. However, recent studies revealed that around 6% to 66% of affected individuals continue to show symptoms of the disorder in their adulthood (Kessler et al., 2006; Rasmussen & Gillberg, 2000). It is also evident in research literature that children with the disorder are at greater risk for adverse outcomes, such as lower academic and employment attainment, and higher criminality and mortality (Barbaresi et al 2013; Frazier et al., 2007). This is because children with ADHD, in general, are easily distracted, often fail to comply with instructions, and unsuccessful to respond to demands placed on them (Wender, 2000). They often perform lower on intelligence tests, which is usually about 7 to 15 IQ points below average, compare to their typically developing peers (Barkley, 1997). Additionally, many children with ADHD show deficits on neuropsychological functions that are related to poor performance in school (Biederman et al., 2004; Butcher et al., 2013). Maintaining

ADHD not only affects children, but also school (approximately 4% to 12%) and college-aged students (estimated 4% to 5%) and adults, because it is often lifelong “with prominent symptoms and impairment spanning into adulthood” (Wilens & Spencer, 2010, p. 97). When children with ADHD get older, the symptoms can be more varied and may be less visible. For example, adults with ADHD can face restlessness, disorganization, deviating attention, procrastination, impulsive decision making and more. The possible consequences of not receiving treatment have multiple dimensions including – a) managing time and task difficult at work, b) controlling impulsivity while responding to others opinion challenging, c) maintaining long-term friendship and romantic-relationships intricate, d) following driving safety hard, e) supporting mental wellbeing without depression and anxiety impossible (Geffen & Forster, 2018). The following sections discusses the impact of ADHD across the lifespan including pre-school years, primary school years, adolescence years, and adulthood.

Pre-School Years

During the preschool years, poor concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness are the common characteristics of typically developing children. Consequently, a high level of supervision is the norm. Even so, children with ADHD may still stand out from their typically developing peers. Pre-school ADHD children will often show an unusually poor intensity of play behaviour and display excessive motor restlessness. In addition, delayed development, oppositional behaviour, and poor social skills may also be present. Even at this early stage of development, the parents of children with ADHD may experience high stress level as their child does not often comply with ordinary parental requests and advice (DuPaul, McGoey, Eckert & VanBrakle, 2001; Sonuga-Barke, Daley, Thompson, Laver-Bradbury & Weeks, 2001). Additionally, parents have less time for themselves as they need to provide high level of supervision and behaviour management for the children.

Having a child with ADHD was found to be associated with many other difficulties for the family members such as strained family relationships, marital problems, and financial and social difficulties (Johnston & Mash, 2001). Siblings of children with ADHD were also found to be negatively affected as they are at increased risk of developing conduct and emotional disorders (Kendall, 1999).

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