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Australia, the US and Channel 4 agree it all ADDs up.

WHAT used to be referred to as hyperactivity in children is now a recognised condition called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

In the United States and in Australia, ADD, which is believed to be linked with neurological changes in the brains of some children, has been widely accepted for 30 years.

There, doctors have accepted that one in eight children may suffer from it and the drug Ritalin is commonly prescribed.

In Britain, ADD is increasingly being taken seriously, though many in the medical profession still regard it with scepticism.

There are now 90,000 prescriptions of the drug each year compared to 2000 six years ago.

Sympathetic experts believe a high proportion of people in prison suffer from undiagnosed ADD.

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Boys are five time more likely to suffer from ADD than girls.

A recent Channel 4 series, Kid in the Corner, starring Scots actor Dougie Henshall as a caring father, highlighted the growing awareness of the problem and the horrors it can inflict on a family.

The drama showed the relief the parents of an ADD child felt when they realised they were not alone in the world.

Many families who have managed to get Ritalin prescribed for their children have described how it has turned their lives around and saved marriages.

There is an opposing school of thought that says children should not go through life in a permanently sedated state.

No one knows what causes ADD. Some medics believe children with ADD have a shortage of a substance called dopamine in their brains.

Other suggestions include pollution, food allergies, caffeine or the stresses of modern life.

An American doctor believes the rise in the condition is directly related to the drop in physical exercise among children in our increasingly desk-bound and car-dominated society.

10 things to look out for

MOST children will display some of these symptoms at different times, but if eight or more symptoms are constantly present, an ADD diagnosis might be made.

1 Difficulty concentrating and easily distracted. Has difficulty following instructions.

2 Inability to recognise danger and often puts themselves at physical risk.

3 Always interrupting and intruding on people.

4 Has very few friends and alienating school mates.

5 Displays impulsive or manic behaviour.

6 Sometimes can be physically aggressive and even violent.

7 Sleeps badly and family rarely gets a full night's sleep.

8 Talks excessively, loses things needed for tasks and blurts out answers.

9 Has difficulty playing quietly and does not seem able to listen.

10 Has difficulty remaining seated and shifts from one activity to another.

Where to seek help:

ADHD Family Support Group. Tel: 01373 826045

Hyperactive Children's Support Group. Tel: 01903 725182

American Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder website http://www.chadd.org

American National Attention Deficit Disorder Association website http://www.add.org
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 23, 2000
Words:476
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