Description: You know a little bit about ADHD, right? So, consider this question, if a child is diagnosed as meeting the diagnostic criteria for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can or will they, over time, outgrow the disorder (or the diagnosis)? A good friend of mine used to be principal at a school for children with learning disabilities and he used to say that the worst place you could conceive of to require an ADHD child to spend a lot of time is a standard classroom that requires them to sit still at their desk for large chunks of the day. For them the best outcome might be for them to survive school, and to get to the point where, as young adults, they get to choose the jobs and recreational environments in which they spend their time. Indeed there ARE settings and situations in which attentional flexibility is an asset. However, that begs the question of whether ADHD is or can be outgrown. Think about what this might involve and about how Psychologists might approach this question and then go and have a look through the linked article to see what a number of Psychologists who specialize in researching, diagnosing and/or treating ADHD have to say.
Source: Is it Possible to Outgrow A.D.H.D. Cheryl Maguire, The Family, The New York Times.
Date: November 13, 2020
Not a simple answer is it? What the article shows is how complex the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD actually is. There is no blood test for ADHD and so diagnosis involves comparting reports on an individual’s behavior across a number of settings and from a number of people’s perspectives (which gives rise to a version of the big research challenge of inter-rater reliability, or the lack thereof). For older teen’s and emerging adult’s diagnosis relies on self-reports of behavior across different settings which can be challenged by other forms of rater reliability. In addition, a lot of what matters about ADHD is functional. That is, it makes it difficult for children with the disorder to blend in and be “average” or “normal” (nasty terms) in school and other group settings requiring sustained attentional focus. Some children with ADHD have supporting home and school environments and acquire skills that allow them to manage and excel in focus environments. Some children with ADHD are lucky enough to find their way into assistance programs that do not make the mistake of beginning by telling them to focus and get organized (which are end goals not starting places for children with ADHD). The bottom line is that while children may not outgrow ADHD they can, with support, out-develop it and that is a very good thing!
Questions for Discussion:
- What is ADHD?
- How is ADHD diagnosed and how might that add complexity to the question of who has it and whether or not they outgrow it?
- What are some things that child setting like schools might do to increase the numbers of children who out-develop ADHD?
References (Read Further):
Moss, C. M., Metzger, K. B., Carey, M. E., Blum, N. J., Curry, A. E., & Power, T. J. (2020). Chronic Care for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Clinical Management from Childhood Through Adolescence. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 41, S99-S104. Summary Link
Gupta, R., & Kar, B. R. (2009). Development of attentional processes in ADHD and normal children. Progress in brain research, 176, 259-276. Link
DuPaul, G. J., Weyandt, L. L., & Janusis, G. M. (2011). ADHD in the classroom: Effective intervention strategies. Theory into practice, 50(1), 35-42. Link
Mautone, J. A., Lefler, E. K., & Power, T. J. (2011). Promoting family and school success for children with ADHD: Strengthening relationships while building skills. Theory Into Practice, 50(1), 43-51. Link
Harpin, V., Mazzone, L., Raynaud, J. P., Kahle, J., & Hodgkins, P. (2016). Long-term outcomes of ADHD: a systematic review of self-esteem and social function. Journal of attention disorders, 20(4), 295-305. Link
Arnold, L. E., Hodgkins, P., Kahle, J., Madhoo, M., & Kewley, G. (2020). Long-term outcomes of ADHD: academic achievement and performance. Journal of attention disorders, 24(1), 73-85. Link
Timimi, S., & Taylor, E. (2004). ADHD is best understood as a cultural construct. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 184(1), 8-9. Link
Tarver, J., Daley, D., & Sayal, K. (2014). Attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): an updated review of the essential facts. Child: care, health and development, 40(6), 762-774. Link