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Children With ADHD Are At Risk For Criminal Life Styles
Prisoners on Bunks
Psychiatrist and ADHD expert Ned Hallowell defines Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) as a collection of symptoms, some positive, some negative. He espouses that ADHD is not a disorder but a trait, a way of being in the world. Only when it impairs your life, he says, then it becomes a disorder. But once they learn to manage it's disorderly aspects, they can take full advantage of the many talents and gifts embedded in this sparkling kind of mind.
For more information on the positives and gifts of ADHD see:http://ladydeonne.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Help-Your-Child-Embrace-And-Celebrate-Attention-Deficit-Hyperactive-Disorder
There are (3)sub-types of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, combined type
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive Type
Teens with the Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive Type are the ones we are targeting in this article. They are prone to boredom and restlessness. They are risk takers and live for the highs and adrenalin rushes. One thing I need to mention is that those of us with ADHD have a chemical imbalance in our brains....a deficiency in the neurotransmitter dopamine. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that is released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by the brain and is linked to it's motivation and reward mechanisms. Deficiencies in dopamine can cause many symptoms, most notably, Parkinson's Disease and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
For example, Bill who has ADHD is very very happy, calm, and content when driving his sports car at high speeds. The exhilaration he experiences causes a rise in his dopamine levels just as a snort of cocaine or the medication Dopamine would. What happens is that every time he feels bored and/or depressed his first thought is to go for a drive, which for him is risky and potentially harmful behavior.
The importance of having a Mental Health Professional evaluate and diagnose your child cannot not be stressed enough. If your child is experiencing ADHD symptoms and receives treatment while in Kindergarten and Elementary School, it is important for you to have him re-evaluated before going on to Middle or High School.
We learned in the late 90's and early 2000s that children do not always outgrow ADHD during adolescence as we originally thought, but that up to 60% of them continue to have symptoms throughout their adult years. One of the negative consequences of undiagnosed ADHD in teens that we are focusing on today is their involvement with the Criminal Justice System.
Teens with ADHD are at risk for many behaviors that are harmful and sometimes fatal. The need for diagnosis and treatment is crucial at this time. Being able to put a name on their behaviors can be helpful as well as empowering. Once teens are diagnosed as one with ADHD, they feel a sense of relief. They come to know that they are not just screw ups or stupid.
Many of these children have been called "stupid," "dunce" or "dumb." Learning that their brains are wired different than that of their peers provides an explanation for their differences and gives them some legitimacy and validation.
I will never forget the immense joy I felt upon learning that I had Adult ADHD. My first thought was, "If only mama was still living. She would finally understand why I was such a difficult baby and child....why I talked non-stop and flitted from one location and one activity to another and why I earned all A's in my subjects and F's in conduct....why I would sneak out of my bedroom window as a teen to go to the movies on a school night. I was described by her as "my brilliant but problem child."
In this post we are dealing with the dark side of ADHD. The dark side is what can happen when ADHD is undiagnosed and untreated. The importance of having a Mental Health Professional evaluate and diagnose your child cannot not be stressed enough.
If your child is experiencing ADHD symptoms and receives treatment while in Kindergarten and Elementary School, it is important for you to have him re-evaluated before going on to Middle and High School.
Those of us in the Mental Health Profession learned in the late 90's and early 2000s that ADHD symptoms did not always diminish or go away during adolescence as originally believed but that as many as 60% of those with the symptoms as young children continue to present with the symptoms throughout their adult lives.
Our concern here is how undiagnosed and untreated ADHD impacts on the lives of teens in the area of criminal activity. Teens with the Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive Type of ADHD have difficulty with impulse control. They do not have a pause mechanism in their brains that enables them to stop and think about their choices or the consequences of their actions. Because they have dopamine deficiencies in their brains, the very thought of doing something illegal and dangerous causes a rise of their dopamine level.
So, when walking home from school one day Bill notices a convertible parked in front of a convenience store with the keys in the ignition, he said to Justin, "Dude, that's one crazy person leaving their keys in the car like that." "Yeh," said Justin. "We need to teach somebody a lesson!n. Man let's take this baby for a spin! "Naw man," said Bill. Suppose we get caught!" "Don't be such a wuss dude,"said Justin, " just think how it'll be when we show up in this baby. It's only four or five blocks to the gym. Larry and Steve will be shocked man. You know they don't think you're cool but this will show them." Wanting to belong for a change, Bill hops on the driver's side, turns the ignition and drives off without any thought other than the fact that his driving the car will prove to Larry and Steve that he is one cool dude.
Bill was so focused on driving the convertible that he ends up driving 55 in a 35 mph zone. From out of nowhere he hears a police siren and hears Justin saying, "Damn, we're in trouble now that police car is right behind you. Dude, why you gotta speed? You really are a f*** up!
Justin and Bill are arrested for auto theft and carted off to the Juvenile Detention Center. They now have a criminal record...a felony, and are at risk for losing their freedom.
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Life Behind Bars
ADHD Teen Crime Report
Some Facts About ADHD and Criminal Behavior
- Anti-social behaviors are common among Teens with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
- 60% of kids with ADHD also have Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
- Impulsive Hyperactive Disorder Teens are more likely to get into trouble with the law than the inattentive ADHD Teens as they crave the stimulation of anti-social behaviors as well as acting on impulse.
- Impulsive Hyperactive Disorder Teens do not plan their crimes or illegal activities. When the feeling hits them, they just do it!
- Teens with ADHD average (2) arrests by age 18.
- ADHD dos not cause Teens or Adults to commit crimes, but the symptoms increase their risks for involvement with the criminal justice system.
- Evidence has shown that proper treatment may reduce the risk for criminal behavior as well as the recidivism rate among ADHD criminals.
- 25% of untreated Teens will be arrested compared with 3% for the general population.
- About 50% of men in prison have ADHD.
- Arson is often associated with ADHD. ADHD Teens are three times more likely to be arrested for arson.
- Teens with ADHD (hyperactive impulsive type) are four times more likely to be involved in auto accidents and get speeding tickets than non-ADHD Teens.
- Teens who do not receive treatment are often plagued by boredom and impulsivity. In order to get their dopamine fix, they crave sensation and excitement. Often times they commit crimes to achieve that fix.
- According to a study by the Medical University of South Carolina Teens with ADHD are three times more likely to be hurt in a car crash, four times as likely to be at fault and six to eight times more likely to have their driver's licenses suspended.
- People with ADHD are more likely to attempt to take their own life.
- Teens with ADHD are more likely to use drugs to self medicate as an unconscious gesture to replenish their dopamine supply.
- Teens with untreated ADHD are ten times more likely to become pregnant or cause a pregnancy than other Teens.
Undiagnosed and untreated ADHD can have far reaching, serious and often fatal consequences for Teens. If your child is exhibiting symptoms, it is imperative for you to make an appointment with a psychiatrist for an evaluation and diagnosis. If your Teen is found to have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive Type, he is at risk for criminal activity because of his impulsivity which he has not learned or is unable to control without treatment and because of his dopamine deficiency.
It is important that you keep in mind that ADHD does not cause criminal behavior but that it increases the risk for criminal behavior. It is paramount that your Teen be evaluated and diagnosed. Your failure to make this happen may mean a criminal life style for your Teen.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, D.C. American Psychiatric Association.
 T. Grisso. Double Jeopardy: Adolescent Offender with Mental Disorder. The University of Chicago Press, 2004
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