Seeing ADHD on a spectrum

Posted on October 17, 2014

A new study suggests that there is a natural spectrum of attention function in the general population, with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at one extreme.

Researchers at Cardiff University School of Medicine and the University of Bristol in the U.K. believe there is a spectrum of attention, hyperactivity/impulsiveness, and language function in society. They contend that varying degrees of these impairments are associated with clusters of genes linked with the risk for ADHD. Viewing these functions as dimensions or spectrums contrasts with a traditional view of ADHD as a disease category.

Their research finds that a set of genetic risks identified from UK patients with a clinical diagnosis of childhood ADHD also predicted higher levels of developmental difficulties in children from a UK population cohort. The results provide support at a genetic level for the suggestion that ADHD diagnosis represents the extreme of a spectrum of difficulties. The results are also important as they suggest that the same sets of genetic risks contribute to different aspects of child development which are characteristic features of neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.

If this opinion is accurate the concept has broad implications for psychiatric diagnoses and perhaps for society.

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Source material from Psych Central