Child's Mind (Scientific American Special Online Issue No. by Scientific American

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Most researchers now believe that ADHD is a polygenic disorder—that is, that more than one gene contributes to it. Early tips that faulty genetics underlie ADHD came from studies of the relatives of children with the disorder. For instance, the siblings of children with ADHD are between five and seven times more likely to develop the syndrome than children from unaffected families. And the children of a parent who has ADHD have up to a 50 percent chance of experiencing the same difficulties. The most conclusive evidence that genetics can contribute to ADHD, however, comes from studies of twins.

If a task is complex, such as a huge jigsaw puzzle or a timeconsuming construction project for school, help children figure out how to divide up the work. Explain the value of focusing and completing one piece at a time, instead of trying to grapple with the entire job at once. After the student is under way, he or she may be quite content to work independently, converting what was just learned into his or her own persistence. Remember that a child’s capacity to concentrate is considerably less than that of an adult, so adjust your expectations and possible criticism accordingly.

G. J. LaHoste et al. in Molecular Psychiatry, Vol. 1, No. 2, pages 121–124; May 1996. 34 SCIENTIFIC AMERIC AN EXCLUSIVE ONLINE ISSUE COPYRIGHT 2006 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INC. ” Who among us never heard that exhortation in grade school or from our parents? Of course, it is genuinely difficult for children to ignore distractions and dedicate themselves to a task at hand. Yet school counselors and cognitive therapists see the inability to concentrate as a widespread learning problem. Some straightforward steps can improve concentration power—for students and adults.

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