Integrating Children with Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity into Youth Sport

By Decker, Jim; Voege, Debra | Palaestra, Summer 1992 | Go to article overview

Integrating Children with Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity into Youth Sport


Decker, Jim, Voege, Debra, Palaestra


Jon is nine years old and playing in a youth soccer game for the first time. He has wanted to play for several years, but his parents thought he was too immature. As the game proceeds, Jon pulls at the grass and is distracted by nearby traffic and spectators, apparently oblivious to game flow and coach's directions. Impulsively, he runs to the sideline to ask his mother about dinner. On the way to the playing field he runs into the back of a teammate and shoves him out of the way. When the game ends Jon runs to the car without talking to his teammates.

Jon's parents are frustrated by his behaviors and are at a loss as to how to help his participate successfully in organized youth sport activities. Even as a toddler Jon acted impulsively, was easily distracted, had difficulty following directions, and threw frequent temper tantrums. Even now, he seldom finishes what he starts, including play activities.

Much of Jon's time is spent playing alone; friendships are characterized by frequent turbulent disagreements. Return invitations to friend's homes are few; consequently, Jon has unusually low self-esteem.

Overall, Jon is a bright, inquisitive youngster who genuinely wants to please those around him. Unfortunately, sometimes he cannot seem to control his behaviors and has difficulty paying attention to anything.

Historically, behaviors exemplified in this vignette have been classified by numerous terms: hyperkinetic reaction of childhood (American Psychiatric Association, 1968); hyperactive impulse disorder (McPherson, 1977); hyperactivity; hyperkinesis; hyperkinetic behavior syndrome; and minimal brain disorder (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 1987). The 1980 Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM III) redefined these behaviors as attention deficit disorder (ADD). DSM III further delineated between two subtypes of the condition--attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD), and attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity (ADD). Furthermore, DSM III denotes an individual who was once diagnosed as having ADD with hyperactivity, but whose hyperactivity has disappeared while other symptoms of ADD persist as having attention deficit disorder, residual type.

CHARACTERISTICS OF ADHD

ADHD is characterized by a) inappropriate attention, b) impulsivity, and c) hyperactivity. Children with the disorder have trouble sustaining tasks to their completion and often give the impression of not listening or not hearing what they have been told. Typically, school performances demonstrate carelessness, omissions, and misinterpretations, even when the child appears well motivated. At home the child is unable to persist with play and other age appropriate activities. Due to lack of self control, children with ADHD frequently have difficulty following rules (Barkley, 1981). Associated features of ADHD include irritability, explosiveness, insensitivity to social situations, obstinacy, negativism, bossiness, bullying, low frustration tolerance, temper tantrums, and nonresponsiveness to discipline (American Psychiatric Association, 1980; Ellenwood & Felt, 1989).

Typically, symptoms of ADHD are present at the age of three, but commonly such children do not receive professional attention until entering school (American Psychiatric Association, 1980). However, due to difficulties in diagnosing the conditions, actual prevalence is unknown. Parker (1990) indicated ADHD could conservatively be estimated to occur in three to five percent of children in the United States. DSM III suggested ADHD is prevalent in as many as three percent of prepubescent children and the disorder may disappear altogether at puberty or may persist, with or without hyperactivity (i.e., residual type), into adulthood. The relative frequency of these courses is unknown (American Psychiatric Association, 1980). However, Ingersoll (1988) postulated that only 20% of children diagnosed as having ADHD were symptom-free by adolescence. …

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Integrating Children with Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity into Youth Sport
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