Not Enough Attention Is Given To Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

May 22, 1998

(Personal paper: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is under diagnosed and under treated in Britain)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition of brain dysfunction with associated educational and behavioural difficulties, that is misunderstood and under-recognised in Britain, says Dr Geoffrey Kewley from the Learning Assessment Centre in Horsham, in this week's BMJ. The author argues that there is much myth and misinformation about the condition, which has tended to be seen in the UK - in contrast to many other countries - as a purely psychosocial problem caused by poor parenting, with overemphasis on the presence of hyperactivity for diagnosis. There is widespread ignorance, even in severe cases, about the need for medication as a component of the management of what is a very treatable condition.

The disorder is characterised by excessive inattentiveness, impulsiveness or hyperactivity that significantly interferes with everyday life. It is a very variable condition with a number of potential complications. Rather than outgrowing the condition, about 60 per cent of sufferers have persisting difficulties into adulthood. Unrecognised and untreated it predisposes to educational, social and psychiatric difficulties and those with associated Conduct Disorder have a much higher risk of turning to criminal activity.


Geoffrey Kewley, Consultant Paediatrician, Learning Assessment Centre, Horsham, West Sussex


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