Pandemic or overdiagnosing?
As presented in the DSM 5 Diagnostic Criteria, ADHD is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
Recent research has led to some academics moving away from classifying ADHD as a behavioral disorder, observing that many diagnosed with ADHD do not experience any behavioral issues, while for many the symptoms extend far beyond what is outlined in the DSMV5. Instead, many are reclassifying ADHD as a cognitive issue rooted in Executive Function Disorder.
ADHD and Executive Function
The following six clusters of executive functions tend to be impaired in individuals with ADHD:
- Activation: organizing tasks and materials, estimating time, getting started
- Focus: focusing, sustaining focus, and shifting focus between tasks
- Effort: regulating alertness, sustaining effort and processing speed
- Emotion: managing frustration and modulating emotions
- Memory: using working memory and accessing recall
- Action: monitoring/ regulating actions
Executive functions are mediated primarily by the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for sending messages to the rest of the brain regarding what actions to take, why, and when. It is common for a person to have weaknesses is more than one area of executive function. It is also prevalent for areas of strength to co-exist alongside areas of executive functioning weakness.
Co-Morbidity & ADHD
Comorbidity of ADHD with other disorders is between 60% and 80%. Some of the common co-morbidities include:
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Learning Disorder
- Conduct Disorder
Twice Exceptionality (2e) and ADHD
“Twice Exceptional” is a term used to refer to individuals with one or more disabilities presenting alongside one or more exceptional strengths.
Some characteristics of gifted learners overlap with characteristics of children with ADHD. More recent empirical research confirms that high-ability students can and do have diagnoses of ADHD, and that their school performance difficulties, behavioral presentation, and family history of an ADHD diagnosis is very similar to average ability students with ADHD.