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The first reason a child should be treated with a medication is to control inattentiveness. Inattention is the predominate characteristic displayed by children. Often the child will lose things, makes carless mistakes, and is easily distracted. Inattention is caused by a neurological brain disorder in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the central management of the brain and controls focus and memory. These are executive functions that control attention and willpower. These functions depend primarily on two neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. The release of dopamine promotes motivation from happiness. (Brown, 2005) Stimulant medications are made with one of these chemicals allowing for treatment.
The second concurrent condition that should be controlled by medication is hyperactivity. Hyperactive children are constantly in motion. The tension at home and school can mount if the hyperactivity is not controlled. It can cause incomplete assignments, and the child can become disruptive to the entire class. (Steer, J. 2009) This can cause a pattern of suspensions from school perceived as bad behavior. The child will climb or run about, talks excessively, and have difficultly playing a quiet activity. This interpretation ultimately leaves the child with dramatic consequences of feeling isolated and a failure. Effort and activation are the impaired functions which affect hyperactivity. Stimulant medication will enable the ability to activate to work by organizing and prioritizing.
A child’s impulsivity should be controlled by medication. A child’s impulses create them to act before thinking. This may leave the child blurting out answers before they are asked, or have difficulty in waiting their turn. A pharmaceutical medication would allow the child’s neurotransmitters to process information before responding. Emotions and actions are impaired functions. Not being able to manage one’s own emotions can create an imbalanced child that cannot put into words how they feel. Also, self regulation and monitoring are impaired without the proper chemical treatment. Allowing these side effects of ADHD to go untreated can lead a child to low self-esteem and a negative image about themselves.
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Results of a major study sponsored by the NIH concluded that “non-medication treatments at their best did not improve the core symptoms of ADHD anywhere near as much as did the carefully monitored medication treatment.” (MTA, 1999) All six symptoms can be effectively treated as a cluster and respond together to stimulant treatment. (Brown, 2005) Since symptoms are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain the best treatment is a reintroduction of these missing chemicals. This allows the brain to send messages through neurotransmitters in a timely reliable fashion.
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National Institute of Mental Health. (2008) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Publication No. 08-3572 Retrieved May 29, 2011, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health /publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/complete-index.shtml#pub1
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