Introduction

In today’s society caffeine is used daily by
millions of people to help with many things such as improving concentration and
alleviating fatigue.  According to
O’Connor the soda intake amongst children has increased at least twice as much
as compared to 20 years ago with the amount “averaging as much as 20 ounces a
day” (O’Connor, 2001). The use of caffeine has exceeded that
of alcohol and nicotine so much that it is now deemed as one of the most
widespread mood-altering drugs worldwide. 
Leading caffeine researcher Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins
University, states “Research has shown that the dose of caffeine delivered
in a single can of soft drink is sufficient to produce mood and behavioral
effects” (O’Connor, 2001). 
This has therefore triggered an interest in the peak of Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, formerly known as ADHD, amongst children.  “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD) is a brain disorder that is estimated to affect between 5-11 percent of
children in the United States” (Berry, 2017).
Due to its common presence children are automatically diagnosed with this
disorder by doctors, and yet lots of people with ADHD still struggle with
managing their symptoms.

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It is mainly children who are unaware of the effect
caffeine has on them.  Although Johns
Hopkins’ Griffiths believes adults are familiar with the effects of caffeine
therefore ignoring a child’s caffeine consumption due to no life-threatening
health risks, Marjorie Roth Leon, PhD, of National-Louis University, thinks
not.  Based on evidence from research
caffeine is shown to be effective in increasing attention, noted as one of the
deficits of ADHD.  Leon’s aggregate
analysis of numerous empirical studies further helped to support her hypothesis
regarding the “effects of caffeine on aspects of cognitive, psychomotor, and emotional
functioning among children with ADHD” (O’Connor, 2001).

Without considering caffeine ADHD has a few
treatments, such as behavioral therapy or stimulant medications, that currently
are used for the disorder.  There are anywhere
between 6-9 million prescriptions written for the stimulant medication
Methylphenidate (Ritalin) to treat children with ADHD, yet caffeine could be
used as an alternative.  Even though
caffeine has not been deemed as effective regarding a decrease in problem
behaviors linked to ADHD, the stimulant that it does provide has fewer side
effects when compared to current prescribed medications used for the disorder.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive
Disorder

Characteristics of ADHD are said to include things
concerning impulsive behavior, motor hyperactivity, and a developmental lack of
attention.  Children and adults
identified with having ADHD tend to display difficulties with control,
maintaining attention, and showing appropriate motivation.  “In general, ADHD is defined by the presence
of socially disruptive behaviors, either attention based or hyperactive,
before the age of seven, which persist for at least six months” (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

 Caffeine

            Defined as a central nervous stimulant, caffeine is
now the most commonly used drug based on its high intake rate with over 90
percent of adults consuming the stimulant worldwide on a daily basis.  With availability now in a liquid and pill
form that is distributed in many herbal supplements, caffeine enters our bodies
based on a diet consisting of coffee, soda, and chocolate as well.  It is also noted that when compared to
subjects that receive ample amount of rest, those that are more fatigued tend
to display more effects in reference to caffeine consumption according to the
studies conducted by Mulder, Lorist, et al. (Mulder, Kok, Snel, & Lorist, 1994).

Proposed Study

The present study will examine the correlative
effects of caffeine on non-medicated ADHD children. Based on the previous
research, it is hypothesized that if the effects of caffeine on non-medicated
ADHD children are mild, then the caffeine helps to minimize the ADHD symptoms
in adolescent children.

Method

Participants

The study will be comprised of two distinct groups
of participants with a group sample size of 6 for a total of 12 participants. The
group will have an equal number of boy and girl participants ages 5-10. The participants
will be randomly selected from a local public advertisement regarding medically
diagnosed ADHD children. Only those children who have a regular caffeine intake
and who are not currently on any other psychoactive substances will be
included.

Materials and Procedure

A two-part experimental session will be conducted,
one being an orientation session and the other actually involving the experimentation
process. During the orientation session the children’s parents will be given a
brief introduction to the experiment after which they will be given an informed
consent. The night before the experimental session, in which they will receive
a call to be reminded, parents will be instructed to not distribute any
caffeine or sugars to the participants. At the beginning of the day upon
arrival to the first experimental session the children will receive a feelings
chart where they will circle how they are feeling based on the images that they
say. Next, one group of 6 will be given a 5-oz. clear plastic cup filled with orange
soda. The other group of 6 will be given sparkling water with orange food
coloring. Throughout the day they will be observed based on behaviors shown
from drinking caffeine.  Various tasks
will be assigned in an attempt to monitor their response times. Two days later
they will return for their second experimental session.  Just as in the first experimental session the
same procedure will be followed.  Those
individuals that received caffeine from the soda during the first session will
now receive no caffeine and will be given the sparkling water with orange food
coloring.  Participants that received
sparkling water during the initial experiment would now receive caffeine in the
form of the orange soda.  As conducted
the first day the same activities will be given and the children’s response
time will be measured using the feelings chart and tally marks for how they
respond to different activities.

Results   

After obtaining the given data, a t-test will then
be used to compute the results.  The
t-test is a hypothesis test that is used to compare the means of two
populations.  Since the standard deviation
is unknown and the sample size is small, this further justifies the statistical
use of the t-test for the experiment.

Discussion

The purpose of this study is to see if caffeine had
any effects on children with ADHD. Overall, the studies done on caffeine’s
effect on ADHD symptoms have been small, and their results inconclusive. Every
study has shown different results positive and negative. Also, there was no
test done to assure that the subjects refrained from caffeine before the
sessions.  This therefore gives a small
margin of error and jeopardizes the validity of the results obtained from the
experiment.  It is safe to say that
caffeine does have minimal effects on children with ADHD but not enough
significant evidence in regards to whether it could be use as an alternative
treatment method for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  With furthered research and experimentation
to gain a more conclusive result, anything is possible.