ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD is a disorder that is frequently diagnosed during childhood although it often continues into adulthood. ADHD’s hallmark features include difficult paying attention, sustaining focus, and controlling impulsive behaviors. Individuals can also be hyperactive which means they display excessive amounts of physical activity. These symptoms make it difficult for the afflicted individual to function in many settings, including at school, home, work, and socially. There are different subcategories of ADHD, based on presentation: Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and a combination of the two. Individuals who are predominantly inattentive show significant deficits in what’s called executive functioning; focusing, tracking and completing tasks, and maintaining an activity without becoming distracted. Individuals who are predominantly. The Hyperactive-Impulsive individual have difficulty sitting still and exhibit excessive motor activity. They frequently move around incessantly and are unable to remain in one place for any extended period of time. Combination-type individuals exhibit features of both inattention and hyperactivity. These individuals are unable to focus or sustain attention, complete tasks, or remain still for any reasonable period of time (based on chronological age).
How is ADHD Diagnosed?
ADHD is diagnosed through evaluation and assessment conducted by an educational or mental health professional. Evaluators will also gather information from appropriate collateral sources including parents, teachers, caregivers, and partners, depending on the circumstances and age of the examinee. Intellectual and neuropsychological testing typically a component of the assessment process. Boys are diagnosed with the Disorder at over twice the rate of girls.
Some mental health experts have expressed a belief that ADHD is “over-diagnosed” in children. However, early detection and treatment of ADHD is extremely important to mitigate future behavioral problems and their resulting consequences. ADHD in children and adolescents is associated with behavioral dysfunction such as Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The presence of Conduct Disorder during childhood is required to diagnose an individual with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Individuals who engage in behaviors associated with the above disorders during childhood have a higher likelihood of continuing to engage in such behaviors as adults.
Can ADHD be Treated?
ADHD can be managed with various treatments including behavioral therapy and psychotropic medications. Behavioral therapies frequently focus on impulse control, self-esteem, and behavior modification. Psychopharmaceutical interventions frequently consist of stimulant and hypertension medications.
How are ADHD and Criminal Behavior Connected?
Recently, researchers discovered interesting relationships between ADHD and criminal behavior. Studies suggest that the prevalence of ADHD is higher within correctional institutions than in the general public. Researchers also determined that incarcerated individuals with ADHD are responsible for significantly more behavioral infractions than those without the Disorder.
Not all children diagnosed with ADHD grow up to engage in criminal activity. Research suggests, however, that children diagnosed with ADHD, and untreated, have a greater likelihood of engaging in criminal activities as adults.)
So What Should We Do?
Researchers are still working to clarify the connection between ADHD and criminal behavior. Based on the link stated above, the early detection, intervention, and treatment of ADHD cannot be overstated. It is important to provide children who struggle with the disorder, and their families, with the proper education, treatment, and support for managing ADHD.
It is also important to provide incarcerated individuals with psychopharmacological and behavioral interventions and resources to improve their functioning during detention and possibly increase behavior management outcomes.