Culture Vs. Biology: What Causes ADHD?

Understand the role that genes, culture and environment play with your child's ADHD brain 👉

7/24/2021 10:10:00 PM

Understand the role that genes, culture and environment play with your child's ADHD brain 👉

Most researchers point to genetics and heredity as causes of ADD or ADHD. Some scientists are investigating whether certain genes, especially ones linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine, may play a role in developing attention deficit disorder. Other experts contend that our fast-paced, stressed-out, consumer-driven lives are also triggers for ADHD.

: “We know enough about ADHD to offer science-based suggestions that can help reduce the likelihood of someone developing this condition.He advises expectant mothers not to “indulge in alcohol, cigarettes, or illicit drugs, or mistreat yourself or your unborn child in any other way. And get good prenatal care. Poor health care [while expecting a child] brings the risk of developing ADHD.”

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“Make sure you have excellent medical care during [your] delivery….Lack of oxygen at birth, trauma during birth, and infections acquired during delivery can cause ADHD.”“Once you give birth or bring home your adopted child, rejoice. The exciting and momentous journey of parenthood begins. That being said, your enchanting infant requires a lot of work. You may be sleep- and time-deprived, and tempted to plant your [child] in front of the TV to keep him occupied. But don’t. Studies have shown that infants and toddlers who watch more than two hours of television a day are more likely to develop ADHD than other children.”

“As you turn off the TV, turn on human interaction. Social connectedness bolsters the skills that minimize ADHD’s impact. So have family meals often, read aloud together, play board games, go outside and shoot hoops or throw a Frisbee — play, play, play. Also make sure that your child’s school is friendly and encourages social interaction.” headtopics.com

“These are practical measures that can help reduce the likelihood of a child developing ADHD. Remember, too, that inheriting the genes that predispose toward this condition doesn’t guarantee getting it. It is not ADHD that is inherited, but rather the predisposition toward developing it. Simply by reducing your child’s electronic time while increasing interpersonal time, you reduce the likelihood that the genes for ADHD will be expressed as he grows older — even if they were inherited.”

“A final note: You may not be able to prevent your child from developing ADHD, and that’s just fine. I have ADHD, and two of my three kids have it as well. With proper interventions, ADHD need not be a liability. In fact, it can be a tremendous asset. While a person can learn the skills to compensate for its downside, no one can learn the gifts that so often accompany ADHD: creativity, warmth, sharp intuitive skills, high energy, originality, and a ‘special something’ that defies description.”

If a child already has ADHD, can a change in the environment help control symptoms?Dr. Ruff: “The brain can relearn executive functions like planning and attention well into the fourth decade of life. Consistent discipline, less TV and video games, and an emphasis on exercise, seem to be key. Exercise promotes on-task behavior and helps relieve the ‘desk fatigue’ that makes it hard for kids to sit still in class.”

Colin Guare, a 24-year-old freelance writer and co-author ofSmart But Scattered Teens: “If playing video games for hours guaranteed future success, I would be President by now.“This isn’t the case, of course. Still, much of my mental dexterity and sharper executive function — brain-based skills required to execute tasks — can be chalked up to my hours spent in front of a screen. Gaming has helped me manage my ADHD-related shortcomings.” headtopics.com

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ADDitude editors: Though parents will argue that video games are distracting, and an obstacle to learning, research suggests otherwise. In his book,What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, James Paul Gee, Ph.D., notes that what makes a game compelling is its ability to provide a coherent learning environment for players. Not only are some video games a learning experience, says Gee, but they also facilitate metacognition (problem solving). In other words, good games teach players good learning habits.

Several video games offer individuals with ADHD the chance to have fun and to polish their executive skills at the same time. Four popular, entertaining, mentally rewarding, and cool games for teens are: Portal and Portal 2, Starcraft and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, The Zelda Franchise, and Guitar Hero.”

Randy Kulman, Ph.D., founder and president ofLearningWorks for Kids: “Watch your child play Minecraft or other skill building games for a few minutes, and you’ll see that he plans, organizes, and problem-solves while engaged in a video game — skills we’d all like our ADHD kids to develop. Wouldn’t it be great if he could transfer those game-playing skills to everyday tasks? He can, with a little help from you. Use the following three steps to tap into the skill-building potential of video games:

Help your child identify the thinking and problem-solving skills that are necessary to play the game.Encourage metacognition and reflection by talking about how these skills are used in the real world.Engage your child in activities that use these skills, and then talk with your child about how the skills connect to game play.” headtopics.com

Kulman recommends the games Bad Piggies, Roblox, and Minecraft to build these skills.How about medication?Dr. Ruff: “There’s no doubt that medication can help control symptoms of ADHD. However, it’s problematic when doctors and parents believe ADHD to be simply the result of a ‘chemical imbalance,’ while failing to consider that a ‘lifestyle imbalance’ may also be involved. Even if medication is part of your child’s treatment plan, you still need to get the TV out of his bedroom.”

ADDitude editors: There’s no disputing that a healthy lifestyle — nutrient-rich foods, lots of water, exercise, and less stress — is better for ADHD. However, according to a study published online in theJournal of Attention Disordersin 2016, just the opposite is happening — children with ADHD engage in fewer healthy lifestyle behaviors than do their peers without the condition. There’s definitely room for improvement.

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[]1https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/5509182Kühn, S., Gleich, T., Lorenz, R. C., Lindenberger, U., Gallinat, J. Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: Grey matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game.Molecular Psychiatry

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/241664073Richard J Haier, Sherif Karama, Leonard Leyba and Rex E Jung. MRI assessment of cortical thickness and functional activity changes in adolescent girls following three months of practice on a visual-spatial task.

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