Why are so many more kids diagnosed with ADHD today?

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Why are so many more kids diagnosed with ADHD today?

It seems like there are more kids in the world who have Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder, ADHD, and people want to know why is that? Is there something that's going on that's creating more of these kids? I think there are a lot of reasons that we have more of these kids. We do have more of these kids who have this diagnosis. One is that more people know how to recognize it, assess it, and name it. So we have kids who 10-15-20 years ago would not have had a label associated with this inattention, hyperactivity, distractibility trio that characterizes ADHD in the first place. I think it's also important to acknowledge another possible reason that explains why we have more of these kids. And that is kids spend all day long in a school setting that requires focus, sustained and consistent attention to many things that are difficult for them. That's hard work. I think it's important to understand that a phenomenon that's occurred in the United States over the past 10 years or so requires kids to pass standardized testing at different levels throughout their education. This is imposed by the federal government. This is imposed by the state government. And what's happened because of this high-stakes testing is the curriculum has been pushed lower and lower. In kindergarten classes across the United States, more kids are being expected to do more academic work than ever before. And if they don't they begin to be identified earlier as children with difficulties, either attention difficulties or learning difficulties. And really the problem is these kids are in an environment that expects them to do things that their little brains aren't yet ready to go. And so that can't be called a disability. That's the result of a mismatch between a pretty tough curriculum and little kids who are being little kids.

View Jerome Schultz, PhD's video on Why are so many more kids diagnosed with ADHD today?...


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Jerome Schultz, PhD

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is a former middle school special education teacher. He is currently in private practice as a clinical neuropsychologist and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.  For over three decades, he has specialized in the neuropsychological assessment and treatment of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other special needs. He was on the faculty of Lesley University in Cambridge MA for almost 30 years, and served there as the Founding Director of a diagnostic clinic called the Learning Lab. Before returning to private practice, Dr. Schultz served as the Co-Director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Development at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Schultz received both his undergraduate and Master’s degree from The Ohio State University and holds a Ph.D. from Boston College. He has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of a journal called Academic Psychiatry, and is on the Professional Advisory Boards of a website called Inside ADHD.com, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

In addition to his clinical and educational work, Dr. Schultz serves as an international consultant on issues related to the neuropsychology and appropriate education of children and young adults with ADHD & LD and other special needs. In his current role as neuropsychological consultant to several large school districts in the Boston area, he is on the ground, in schools and working with kids and their teachers several days each week.

Dr. Schultz created an award-winning video called “Einstein and Me” about living successfully with a learning disability, and has written extensively about children with learning, behavioral and emotional challenges. He has a special education and psychology blog on the Huffington Post. His book, called Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It, (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) which examines the role of stress in learning, has received international acclaim.


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