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Theoretical Approach to ADHD: Case Study Analysis

Overview of the EF Theory

In the case of Leko, the executive function (EF) theory by Russel Barkley is applicable in understanding and developing strategies to improve the child’s learning process. It is worth noting that there is adequate evidence to believe that Leko has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Therefore, it is appropriate to apply the EF theory in the situation. Russel Barkley’s EF theory uses the idea that inabilities to have self-regulation are cause the various challenges that individuals with ADHD face in their lives, especially in childhood (Elosúa et al., 2017). According to this theory, individuals with ADHD are unable to have delayed responses.

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Consequently, they are likely to act impulsively and without enough consideration of the consequences of their actions, whether negative or beneficial to them and others. To simplify the theory, Barkley breaks down the executive functions into principal areas- nonverbal working memory, verbal working memory, reconstitution, and self-regulation of effect (Shuai, 2017). Executive functions play a number of roles in the control of human behavior that ranges from those involving external events to those concerning mental representations of those specific events. For instance, EF controls others for self-control, present to the possible future, and immediate reinforcement to delayed gratification (Elosúa et al., 2017).

According to the model, the ability to inhibit a preponderant response is the primary EF on which all the other functions develop (Elosúa et al., 2017). This type of behavior inhibition is crucial for developing EF, such as verbal and nonverbal working memory, regulations of volition and emotions, and reconstitution.

Application of EF Theory to a Case Situation

Based on the EF theory, it is possible to identify its important aspects that can be used when applying to a case situation. Berkeley’s theoretical model describes behavioral inhibition as the principal EF because it helps a person to have the capacity to think before taking action and responding and employ other EFs (Shuai et al., 2017). The other EFs employable include working memory which allows an individual to move beyond the current event, regulate effect and motivation, internalization of speech, problem-solving, and reconstitution (Shuai et al., 2017). Noteworthy, reconstitution allows one to recombine behaviors, memories, thoughts, and analyses and engage in the necessary behaviors for finding solutions.

Based on this model, a professional can view Leko as having the skills for planning and regulating her behavior, as well as sustaining her attention. However, she has difficulties in performing these behaviors; thus, the current problem she is having at school and at home (Rapport et al., 2020). Therefore, intervention strategies to improve Leko’s behavior should be implemented at this point of performance, as the model suggests.

The Three Criterions of ADHD

In South Africa, it is appropriate to apply recognized methods of diagnosis developed in other parts of the world. As per the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Association, the DMS-5 standard helps to ensure the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of ADHD (Grzadzinski et al., 2016). Furthermore, applying similar standards across communities throughout South Africa can help determine the population of children suffering from ADHD and how the condition affects the country’s public health. Consequently, it is imperative to conduct a review of the criteria used in the DSM-5 diagnosis.

The DSM-5 criteria for ADHD focus on an individual’s symptoms in the behavior in its diagnosis and treatment approach. In this case, three major symptoms, known as the three criteria for ADHD, are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (Grzadzinski et al., 2016). The inattention criterion involves looking at about six symptoms in children of up to 16 years and five or more for those aged 17 and above.

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An individual with this condition falls short of paying attention to details quite often and frequently makes careless mistakes in various areas. For example, the child makes some avoidable errors in his or her homework, during play, and in other activities (Grzadzinski et al., 2016). Such an individual often has trouble holding attention both in play and when conducting tasks. There is a problem with following instructions, and completion of tasks is always difficult. Organizing tasks becomes a problem, and the individual will avoid, dislike or become reluctant to perform tasks, especially those that require mental efforts such as homework (Grzadzinski et al., 2016). Furthermore, the individual will often lose materials and other things required to perform tasks such as books, pencils, keys, mobile phones, and others. Moreover, the person will easily forget things in daily activities and will easily get distracted when performing tasks.

The symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity criteria are combined for ease of understanding the individual with ADHD. In this case, six or more symptoms for children up to 16 years and five or more for those aged 17 and above are likely to be present in an individual with ADHD (Colomer et al., 2017). The individual often fidgets or taps the feet and hands or squirms when setting. Such an individual will leave the seat in circumstances that require him or her to remain seated. For children, running about or climbing when such an action is not necessary is a common behavior. For adolescents and adults, the behavior includes the feeling of restlessness (Grzadzinski et al., 2016).

Children and adolescents are likely to avoid participating in leisure activities or remain less active when forced to take part. Individuals with the condition are likely to talk excessively, remain moving as if driven by an engine or a motor, and burst put with an answer before the question is complete. In addition, such an individual does not like waiting for their turn in activities or even interrupts and intrudes on others.


Colomer, C., Berenguer, C., Roselló, B., Baixauli, I., & Miranda, A. (2017). The impactof inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms, and executive functions on learning behaviors of children with ADHD. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 540.

Elosúa, M. R., Del Olmo, S., & Contreras, M. J. (2017). Differences in executivefunctioning in children with attention deficitand hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 976-988. Web.

Grzadzinski, R., Dick, C., Lord, C., & Bishop, S. (2016).Parent-reported and clinician-observed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD):Implications for practice underDSM-5. Molecular Autism, 7(1), 1-12. Web.

Rapport, M. D., Eckrich, S. J., Calub, C., & Friedman, L. M. (2020). Executive function trainingfor children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The Clinical Guide to Assessment and Treatment of Childhood Learning and Attention Problems, 171-196. Web.

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Shuai, L., Daley, D., Wang, Y. F., Zhang, J. S., Kong, Y. T., Tan, X., & Ji, N. (2017). Executive function training for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Chinese Medical Journal, 130(5), 549-448. Web.

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