ADHD, also known as hyperkinetic disorder (HKD) outside the United States, is estimated to affect 7% of children ages six to 11, or about 1.6 million children in the United States. It also affects about 4% of adults. The disorder affects boys more often than girls. Although difficult to assess in infancy and toddlerhood, signs of ADHD may begin to appear as early as age two or three, but the symptom picture changes as adolescence approaches. Many symptoms, particularly hyperactivity, diminish in early adulthood. However, impulsivity and inattention problems remain with up to 50% of ADHD individuals throughout their adult life.
Children with ADHD have short attention spans and are easily bored and/or frustrated with tasks. Although they may be quite intelligent, their lack of focus frequently results in poor grades and difficulties in school. ADHD children act impulsively, taking action first and thinking later. They are constantly moving, running, climbing, squirming, and fidgeting, but often have trouble with gross and fine motor skills. As a result, they may be physically clumsy and awkward. Their clumsiness may extend to the social arena, where they are sometimes shunned due to their impulsive and intrusive behavior. Some critics argue that ADHD is a condition created and diagnosed in the Western world, particular to the environment of highly developed countries, since it is not diagnosed in other cultures. These critics of the ADHD diagnosis feel that medicating a child does not address the true underlying problem. They also note that there may not be a problem at all because children are naturally active and impulsive.
Kim Sharp, Teresa G. Odle, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,