What is ADHD

Prof’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are the most common behavioral issues that children face (Furman 994). The exact origin of ADHD and ADD, and even their very existence, has been a matter of intense debate for some time now (Kirkpatrick 19), because many of the conditions are simply considered normal or slightly abnormal expressions of childhood behavior. The exact cause of ADHD is unknown as of yet, but the two main contenders for its cause are neurochemical imbalance (as in the case with other behavioral issues such as depression) and social conditioning factors such as family life and lived experience. While it is clear that brain chemistry plays some role, the latter explanation seems more compelling and fully developed.
Brain chemistry is one of the two main ways that one can theoretically approach ADHD and ADD. Using this theory, one would treat ADHD like a number of other neurological problems such as depression and anxiety, and treat it with drugs that affect the brain’s chemical balance in order to solve the underlying problem. The problem with this approach, however, is the fact that ADHD has never been conclusively linked to any particular brain imbalance, and no neurological test can be used to definitively identify its symptoms, unlike a large series of other neurological disorders (Furman 994). Thus, it seems that what we consider a disorder is actually a collection of symptoms that has not actually been associated with other neurological issues (Furman 998). The cause of ADHD thus does not appear to be a chemical imbalance in the brain.
The competing hypothesis is essentially that there has been a great deal of social and lived experience that contributes to the development of these disorders. There is a great deal of support for such an argument: primarily, it seems that treating the co-morbid issues of children facing ADHD (such as family issues, learning problems and so forth) has a direct impact on their experience of ADHD, a reason why a variety of treatments, including family counseling and educational assessments, are necessary in dealing with ADHD (Furman 999). This theory, thus, constructs ADHD as more of a volitional disorder (Garro and Yarris 603), which, like many behavior problems, has its roots in choices that children make along with the environment in which they develop. This cause-effect relationship is better supported by evidence than the brain-chemical model, which is directly disputed by the prevalence of co-morbid issues, and the fact that no neurological test can actually identify ADHD.
ADHD is a complex disorder, and it is unlikely that anyone will ever truly uncover exactly what its cause is. The two competing theories are a brain-chemical model and a social-behavioral model, each of which has its issues. The fact is, however, that the brain-chemical model has been directly refuted by a number of tests that would help identify its veracity, so we must conclude that ADHD is caused by more social and behavioral factors.
Works Cited
Furman, Lydia. What is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorer (ADHD)? Journal of Child Neurology 20.12 (2005): 994-1002. Print.
Garro, Linda C., and Kristen E. Yarris. ‘A massive Long Way’: Interconnecting Histories, a ‘Special Child,’ ADHD, and Everyday Family Life. Cult Med Psychiatry 33 (2009): 559-607. Print.
Kirkpatrick, LaVonne. ADHD Treatment and Medication: What Do you Need to Know as an Educator? Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin (2005): 19-26. Print.