Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often persists into adulthood. ADHD is a chronic disorder that can negatively impair many aspects of daily life, including home, school, work, and interpersonal relationships. To avoid misdiagnosing individuals who show only isolated difficulties, at least 6 inattentive symptoms and/or 6 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms must be present to possibly qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. In addition, these symptoms must have been present for at least 6 months to a degree that is considered inappropriate for the individual's age.
There are three primary subtypes:
ADHD - Inattentive Type
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
- Has difficulty sustaining attention.
- Does not appear to listen.
- Struggles to follow through on instructions.
- Has difficulty with organization.
- Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.
- Loses things.
- Is easily distracted.
- Is forgetful in daily activities.
ADHD - Hyperactive Type
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair.
- Has difficulty remaining seated.
- Runs about or climbs excessively.
- Difficulty engaging in activities quietly.
- Acts as if driven by a motor.
- Talks excessively.
- Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
- Difficulty waiting or taking turns.
- Interrupts or intrudes upon others.
ADHD - Combined Type
- Individual meets both sets of inattention and hyperactive/impulsive criteria.
Multimodal treatment is the most effective form of treatment for children and adolescents with ADHD. This treatment approach includes multiple elements that work together and support each other. These various interventions or "modes" of treatment reinforce each other and produce the best outcomes for children and adolescents with ADHD. The elements of the multimodal treatment approach include:
- parent and child education about diagnosis and treatment
- specific behavior management techniques
- stimulant medication
- appropriate educational program and supports
It would be incorrect to think that one intervention, by itself, is sufficient. Although an individual child might respond to one intervention more fully than another, these should not be understood as "either/or" options.
Virtual reality therapy may be very useful in treating ADHD. Virtual reality technology allows the client to role-play in a virtual classroom where different situations can be practiced and then discussed. The therapist can work with the client to improve their concentration skills, as the client is able to practice concentrating on specific tasks while different distractions are introduced. The client is also able to interact with the teacher and classmates, allowing him or her to develop social skills and learn to stay on task.
As ADHD often requires a multimodal treatment program, virtual reality therapy is easily combined with other therapies to provide the most comprehensive and effective intervention plan. Attentional tests imbedded in the VR world can be given to the child prior to beginning therapy. This same assessment can be repeated to provide a precise measurement of treatment progress.
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