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Attention deficit or selective attention in ADHD

Attention deficit or selective attention in ADHD

May 6, 2021

Nowadays, cases related to Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity are frequently attended in consultation, and parents are often anxious because, years ago, they did not hear about this term as it happens today; which is why, sometimes, they do not know how to manage this type of cases well.

When parents or teachers consult me: How do I keep him quiet, because he spends a lot of time making noises and does not let other children concentrate? I usually answer that asking them not to move or make noise is like asking you not to blink. They are children who have the will to obey, but simply can not.

Therefore, the first thing we must do is understand what this disorder is about, which affects children and adults. Let's see what it is about attention deficit .

Attention and attention deficit

Let's start with the basics. What is attention? It is a process of selective concentration in one or several discrete units of information about elements of the environment or thoughts in which other units of information are ignored.

In the case of attention deficit, what happens is that the subject fixes his attention on that information that is attractive, useful or meaningful, according to criteria that do not always obey what is expected socially of each situation and context. Therefore, it is not a deficiency of attention, but a selective attention. In other words, these people involuntarily concentrate on details that, in the eyes of others, should be ignored.

Because of this, parents report that they seem "deaf." In effect, the term fictitious deafness is used, since they only listen to what is of their interest or benefit and, at times, they can deconcentrate with their own thoughts. We all have dreams and long for things, but we learn to control our dreams in such a way that it does not affect our performance; people with attention deficit, however, do not achieve that control and often fantasize or daydream in moments when they expect very specific actions.

Different priorities and selective attention

Added to this, behaviors that affect the organization and sense of priority are presented causing people with attention deficit easily forget their obligations, as well as losing toys, books, school supplies or clothing. It is also frequent the difficulty in managing time, which leads them to be unpunctual or unfulfilled.

Also, obeying orders is often complicated if an instruction contains several actions or steps, because they fail to retain unless it is very clearly stated, or make mistakes due to lack of attention to detail.

Main symptoms of attention deficit

Let's see now in what ways the attention deficit is expressed.

Impulsivity in attention deficit

Further, Many of these people have impulsivity problems . This adds to the symptoms of lack of attention, but in reality it is, in part, a consequence of this.

I usually explain to parents that, as we grow up, we learn to use, without realizing it, regulation brakes, that is, we learn when to give our opinion and when to shut up , when to intervene in a matter and when to keep us at a distance; Although we feel the need to get involved, we must stop to promote healthy relationships or meet objectives or assigned tasks.

However, in the case of children with this disorder, they feel the impulse but can not stop it, they have no brakes to regulate their desires (impulsivity). Therefore, usual behaviors can be: interrupting people and not stop talking, playing and playing with everything they see, saying inappropriate comments, using lies to get by, answer before the end of the question or show difficulty to save the turn in group activities.

Likewise, the attentional deficit affects these people, making them seek to change activities quickly by being carried away by other, more striking interests that do not require a continuous effort, but very likely not a priority, causing them not to finish their homework and chores .


Added to this, people with attention deficit need to release the excess energy they possess (hyperactivity) , therefore they tend to keep in constant movement or wriggle in one place, or constantly look for new activities that are attractive to them. Cases of insomnia are also frequent.They prefer to stand or "walk", so they prefer "active" play activities, quiet games are not usually to their liking.

It is also common to tend to entertain themselves with their own body (hands, arms, hair, mouth, etc.), which involves making sounds or noises that alter other people.

The tolerance to frustration

Finally, people with attention deficit have low tolerance to frustration. Therefore, they are usually very impatient, which leads to tantrums and inappropriate expressions of anger. This often makes people look explosive, anxious or frustrated.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Therefore, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that leads to a certain immaturity in the systems that regulate the level of attention, impulsivity and movement. Important fact is that it belongs to disorders of onset in childhood, childhood or adolescence, that is, the symptoms must be presented before age twelve to be classified in this category.

A very usual question that parents ask is: How is ADHD accurately diagnosed?

In these cases, it is best to consult a professional (child psychiatrist, pediatrician, neurologist), who performs an interview with the parents and then assesses the child. Only specialists of this type can make a diagnosis, and should do so after a personalized review. Questions usually asked in the interview would be:

  • How is your mood most of the time?
  • Do you have problems maintaining order and / or organizing?
  • Is it usually punctual?
  • Are there people with similar characteristics in the family?
  • Is your behavior the same at school, home and other environments?
  • Have you had problems since you were little?

As well may be delved into the history of pregnancy and childbirth or that medical examinations may be requested to rule out another cause .

Helping in the diagnosis

In short, although it is true sometimes requires time to establish the diagnosis, they are not complicated tests, the most advisable is always to provide the professional with the most honest and accurate information possible.

Many times, parents do not accept that their children have some difficulty, and believe that hiding information prevents diagnosis. This only complicates the intervention on attention deficit problems.

ADHD Symptoms & Treatments : Testing for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (May 2021).

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