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module menu icon Introduction & module overview

Introduction & module overview

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can significantly impair a child’s development and experience. Early identification, diagnosis and treatment can make a profound difference to the trajectory of young persons affected.

ADHD can continue into, or be diagnosed in, adulthood but this module will focus on children and adolescents between the ages of six and 18 years. Throughout the module, children and adolescents will be referred to as patients but where there is a need to focus on a particular age range, the word ‘child’ will be used to denote someone between six to 12 years of age and ‘adolescent’ to cover those between 12-18 years of age.

Prevalence rates for ADHD vary between literature and countries but the rate is usually stated as between 3 and 9 per cent in the UK. In an average classroom, roughly one to three children will have ADHD. 

Around two-thirds of adolescents will continue to meet the diagnosis into adulthood. In terms of gender, ADHD is diagnosed at a ratio of roughly four boys to one girl.

ADHD is characterised by the presence of three core symptoms: 

  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattention
  • Impulsivity that is developmentally inappropriate. 

ADHD is seldom a pure diagnosis but is accompanied by other co-morbidities in two-thirds of cases. These include insomnia, autism and behavioural disorders.