Moving the diagnostic goalposts: Medicalising ADHD

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


Does your five-year-old have difficulty sustaining attention? What about organising tasks or waiting her turn? How was she as a four-year-old? These are three of the 18 criteria (here’s the whole lot) used to differentiate children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

There are other questions, such as how often does your child do this? Does it impact him socially or academically? Who is reporting such behaviour? These are critical diagnostic questions that can differentiate problematic and normal behaviour. But they’re not always asked.

And not asking these questions results in two outcomes – the medicalisation of normal behaviour and high prevalence rates for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2012


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