Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: the scope of the problem.
Throughout the recent past, the evolution of ADHD as a disability label or category has been driven primarily by the development of a series of diagnostic manuals by a professional organization (i.e., American Psychiatric Association). The result has been a diagnostic category consisting of behaviors that form a practical construct of the disability. The evolution of the label and its behavioral construct was driven more by the needs of professional manuals than by theoretical considerations or empirical research. With the development of theoretical models and additional empirical research, however, we appear to be gaining a better understanding of the nature of ADHD. New symptom categories have more educational and communicative significance, and, importantly, these categories appear to have more explanatory value than did previous categories. Further investigation of these emerging symptom categories should advance our understanding of ADHD and how it can be managed more effectively. As clinicians, however, whether we focus on primary symptom categories for clinical/educational purposes or emerging symptom categories for their explanatory power, we need to continue to gain a better understanding of ADHD and its impact on our students. This article has provided a description of the evolution of the ADHD label and noted some of the directions that current research appears to be leading. In doing so, we hope that we have provided practicing speech-language pathologists with a better understanding of the history and scope of this problem.