Missing the Mark with ADHD Kids

Hyperactivity is given priority when attention ability is greater issue

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) usually struggle with behavior that is impulsive and overactive, or difficulty keeping their attention focused, or both.

In the classroom, hyperactivity is typically addressed by teachers more, simply because it is the most disruptive to the rest of the students. But inattention, and not hyperactivity, has a much bigger influence on whether a child with ADHD will graduate from high school.

"Find a therapist for your child's hyperactivity; graduation may depend on it."

Recent studies at the University of Montreal show that, when it comes to completing high school education, inattention is the most important factor in ADHD. Sylvana Côté and Jean-Baptiste Pingault led research that looked at 2,000 children over a period of almost 20 years.

Teachers identified attention problems as inability to concentrate, being easily distracted and absentmindedness. Hyperactivity was identified by restlessness, squirming or fidgeting, and running around. Forty percent of the children who exhibited hyperactive behavior graduated from high school, compared to 77 percent of children who were not hyperactive.

But for the kids with attention problems, the numbers were much lower. Only 29 percent of those children finished high school, compared with 89 percent of kids who didn't exhibit attention problems.

Côté said that in school, children who struggle with attention difficulties are often overlooked because they don't disturb the class the way hyperactive kids do. Mental health experts are now debating whether it would be appropriate to separate children with hyperactive and attention difficulties in the future.

Pingault added that children with attention problems need preventative intervention early on, especially since it has such a profound effect on whether they will complete their education.

The study will be published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on November 1, 2011.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 6, 2011
Last Updated:
October 4, 2012