Child ADHD and Poverty Abstract


Child ADHD and Poverty


Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD is a common disorderaffecting over 30 million children worldwide. It is characterized bypersistent and developmentally deliberate levels of inattention,overactivity and impulsivity. Living in poverty as well as living inpoverty concentrated neighborhoods poses various risks for childdevelopment and for general health and wellbeing of a child. Povertyis a major risk factor for different mental, behavioral and emotionaldisorders. The symptoms exhibited by ADHD individuals includeappearing not to listen when in a conversation, disruption of otherpeople’s activities as well as difficulties in taking turns amongothers. The condition is caused by both genetic and environmentalfactors. The genes that are dominant in the development of ADHD areserotonin and dopamine transporters as well as D4 and D5 receptors. Environmental factors that lead to the development of ADHD entailexposure to lead and prenatal smoking. Most children with ADHD have arelated learning disorder of reading, arithmetic, writing andspelling. Children cannot be expected to learn successfully inacademic setting if they are disruptive, inattentive and aggressiveand show problems with planning, organization and with their workingmemory. These children usually experience problems including generalcognitive ability and acquiring primary pre-reading and mathematicsskills. Treatment of ADHD involves pharmacological treatment, the useof stimulants as well as behavioral intervention strategies. Use ofstimulants and behavioral intervention strategies are the most commonapproaches used in the treatment of the condition. This essay looksat poverty and children with ADHD.

Child ADHD and Poverty

Living in poverty as well as living in poverty concentratedneighborhood poses various risks for child development and forgeneral health and wellbeing of a child (Komro, Flay &amp Biglan,2011). Poverty remains a major risk factor for different mental,behavioral and emotional disorders besides other developmental issuesand physical health problems (Lee, 2011). Children brought up inpoverty or in disadvantaged neighborhood have negative health anddevelopmental results. Child poverty as stated in Lee (2011) standsat different worrying rates. In Australia, child poverty was at 11.6percent in 2000’s. Similarly, child poverty rate varied from 2.4percent in Denmark to a high 24.8 percent in Mexico.

Families living in poverty struggle to meet basic needs like food,shelter and clothing. There are also several risks associated withincome poverty which hinder healthy development of a child. Forinstance as Lee (2011) points out, children in poverty encounter awide spectrum of suboptimal conditions including low level ofparental monitoring and responsiveness, neighborhood disadvantage,high degree of parental stress, low quality housing, poor qualitylearning environment, and low quality ambient environment like air,toxins, noise and water (Bussing et al., 2003).

Studies have proved a great link between persistent povertyespecially during the first years of development and childrendevelopment. Most importantly, poverty affects cognitive developmentmore than it does on social-emotional development of a child. Bigelow(2010) argues that, most types of learning disorders including ADHD,FAS/FAE and LD are either worsened or actually brought about bypoverty. Early neglect of a child affects the growth and developmentof the brain and leads to mild mental retardation (MMR) and otherspecific learning disabilities like ADHD and LD. Besides, lack offunctional availability to family, community and extra familialresources for the poor affects their adjustment to the children’slearning disorders (Bigelow, 2010).

Families which are financially and socially stable families areusually more able to sufficiently cope with the special needs oftheir children. There are 30 million children living in poverty. Lackof early support system influences a child’s earning abilities.Children brought in poor families face various challenges that hindertheir psycho-social development. These effects later affect a child’sability to learn.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is common disorderwhich is diagnosed with regard to persistent and developmentallyunfortunate levels of inattention, overactivity and impulsivity. Thepathophysiology and etiology of ADHD are not completely understood(Wickens and Tripp, 2009). According to Smoot, Boothby Gillett (2007)the conditions affects about 4-8 percent of children globally. Thusthe prevalent and complex nature of ADHD necessitates extensiveevaluation concerning parents, clinicians and teachers of childrenaffected (Smoot, Boothby &amp Gillett 2007 Pimentel et al., 2011).

If not well managed, attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder canresult to severe long time effects including morbidity, mortality orimpairment of key life activities. Patients with ADHD also showgreater challenges in areas of functional impairment. Schoolstherefore become a main source of referrals due to both academicunderperformances and disruptive behavior. Children with ADHD portraysignificantly poor performance on standardized tests and higher ratesof suspension, grade retention and dropout as compared with theirnormal children (Smoot, Boothby &amp Gillett, 2007).

Besides, children and youths with ADHD are likely to use health careservices other than ADHD treatment and are also more probable toengage in risky behavior both sexually and physically and generallyshow difficulty with higher levels of managerial functioning (Smoot,Boothby &amp Gillett, 2007).

Symptoms of ADHD begin before the age of 12 years. Although somepeople outgrow the symptoms, the symptoms persist beyond adolescencethrough adulthood in most people (Friedman &amp Rapoport, 2015).

Symptoms of ADHD

According to American Psychological Association APA DSM-IVguidelines, for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, she or he mustshow some inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive behaviors for aperiod of more than 6 months before attaining the age of 7 and shouldbe evident in school and home environments and should significantlyaffect routine functioning.

Basically, a person with ADHD shows difficulty taking turns usuallyappear not to be listening during a conversation, talks excessively,tends to disrupt and interrupt on other in games, classroomdiscussions and conversations (Daley &amp Birchwood, 2010).Incidents of ADHD are concentrated in school going children eventhough there is evident of preschool going children, adolescents aswell as adults showing symptoms of ADHD.

Besides the main symptoms of inattention, impulsivity andhyperactivity, individuals with ADHD usually experience otherco-morbid issues including oppositional defiant disorder in children,anxiety and bipolar disorders.

Studies from neuro-imaging of children with ADHD show shrinking ofthe prefrontal cortex. It is therefore expected that some prefrontalexecutive functions are inadequate including response inhibition andworking memory (Daley &ampBirchwood, 2010).

Causes of ADHD

ADHD is associated with both genetic and environmental factors.Genetics plays a major determinant in the development of ADHD. Genesinvolved with both serotonin and dopamine transporters have beenlinked to the development of ADHD. In addition, D4 and D5 receptorshave also been associated with ADHD. Environmental factors includingfamily conflict, obstetric complications, and antenatal exposure allappear to contribute to the development of ADHD. Home environment,peer influence and parental skills are factors that influencesymptoms of ADHD even though they are not the primary causes for thecondition (Smoot, Boothby &amp Gillette, 2007).

There is thus a great interplay between genetic and environmentalfactors as genes lead to the development of ADHD while environmentalfactors enhance the symptoms of the condition. In addition, there arerisk factors that increase the likelihood of ADHD. Exposure to leador PCBs in early pregnancy are known to increase ADHD developmentrisk. In addition complex relations between environmental and geneticfactors like the link between prenatal smoking and ADHD. Parents’lack of resources to care for their children or access resourcesincreases the effects for ADHD.

Academic Performance Poverty and a Child’s Learning Disability

Most children with ADHD have a related learning disorder of reading,arithmetic, writing as well as spelling. Children cannot be expectedto learn successfully in academic setting if they are disruptive,inattentive and aggressive and show problems with planning,organization and with their working memory. These children usuallyexperience problems that entail: general cognitive ability andacquiring primary pre-reading and mathematics skills.

Hyperactivity and inattention are associated with inadequate readingachievement. Nevertheless, not all people showing early signs of ADHDproceed to express completely the disorder or experience the relatedacademic inadequacies (Daley &amp Birchwood, 2010).

Intervention and Treatment

There are different interventions and treatment options for ADHD andinclude both medical and therapeutic approaches. The most commontreatment for ADHD is stimulants and behavioral therapy as will beseen in this essay.


The objectives of medication entail control of symptoms, improvinginterpersonal relationships, improving academic performance andultimately enhance transition to adult life. Therapy monitoringentails subjective reporting of behavior. Expected outcomes may beparticular for individual patients and include teacher reporting ondisciplinary issues, time spent on school assignments and involvementin other activities outside school activities (Smoot, Boothby &ampGillett, 2007).


Stimulants are the most widely used form of treatment of ADHD eventhough there is exploration of new options for treating ADHD.Cerebral stimulants were explored for the treatment of ADHD overseven decades ago but remain the choice of treatment for thecondition to date. The mechanism of action for stimulants is notactually understood but different theories have been put forth toexplain their action. Stimulants are ideally thought to inhibit there-absorption of dopamine and norepinephrine, enhance the dischargeof these transmitters from the presynaptic neuron or thwart monoamineoxidase (Smoot, Boothby &amp Gillett, 2007). These activities leadto heightened sympathomimetic activity and the central nervous systemas well as the respiratory stimulation. Cerebral stimulants carry outthese functions at various degrees thereby creating somewhat variousmechanisms of action. As such, failure of therapy with a givenstimulant does not mean failure to all and another stimulant can thusbe applied.


Atomoxetine is the newest treatment choice for ADHD and has been inuse for just a few years. Although recommendation for its applicationis not listed in the original guideline publication by the AAP sinceit was not available for listing when the guide was being created, itis still used (Smoot, Boothby &amp Gillett, 2007).

Behavioral interventions

Besides pharmacological and stimulant treatment, behavioralinterventions have been very useful in managing ADHD. Theseinterventions include peer and parental tutoring where an ADHD childis connect to a peer tutor to carry out given academic activity withthe peer teacher offering one on one instruction and guidance at theADHD person’s own speed (Sonuga-Barke et al. 2014). Other strategytraining, task and instructional modifications, homework-focusedinterventions, and peer and parent tutoring are among the strategiesused for enhancing learning of ADHD individuals (Daley &ampBirchwood, 2010). In addition, professionals like communitycounselors, school counselors, and teachers all play an importantrole in helping children obtain the needed resources for successfullearning.


Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD is a common disorderaffecting children worldwide. It is characterized by persistent anddevelopmentally unfortunate levels of inattention, overactivity andimpulsivity. Living in poverty as well as living in povertyconcentrated areas poses various risks for child development and forgeneral health and wellbeing of a child. Poverty remains a major riskfactor for different mental, behavioral and emotional disordersbesides other developmental issues and physical health problems.Children brought up in poverty or in disadvantaged neighborhood havenegative health and developmental results. ADHD presents learningdifficulties among children and individuals affected. The symptomsexhibited by ADHD individuals include appearing not to listen when ina conversation, disruption of other people’s activities as well asdifficulties in taking turns among others. The condition is caused byboth genetic and environmental factors. The genes that are dominantin the development of ADHD are serotonin and dopamine transporters.In addition, D4 and D5 receptors have also been associated with ADHD. Environmental factors that lead to the development of ADHD entailexposure to lead and prenatal smoking. Most children with ADHD have arelated learning disorder of reading, arithmetic, writing as well asspelling. Children cannot be expected to learn successfully inacademic setting if they are disruptive, inattentive and aggressiveand show problems with planning, organization and with their workingmemory. These children usually experience problems that entail:general cognitive ability and acquiring primary pre-reading andmathematics skills. Treatment of ADHD involves pharmacologicaltreatment, the use of stimulants as well as behavioral interventionstrategies. Use of stimulants and behavioral intervention strategiesare the most common approaches used in the treatment of thecondition. Not all people showing symptoms of ADHD grow to show thefull developed condition of ADHD. Some of them outgrow the condition.


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