chapter  4
37 Pages

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Definitions Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention deficit disorder, hyperkinetic disorder, hyperkinesis and minimal brain dysfunction are some of the terms used for a syndrome characterized by persistent overactivity, impulsivity and difficulties in sustaining attention (Barkley, 1990; Hinshaw, 1994; Taylor, 1994). Throughout this chapter preference will be given to the term attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since this is currently the most widely used term. In Figure 4.1 the DSM IV(APA, 1994) diagnostic criteria for ADHD and the lCD 10 (WHO, 1992) criteria for Hyperkinetic Disorder are presented. The most noteworthy feature of the syndromes described in the two widely used classification systems is their similarity. Historically, a narrow definition of ADHD has been used in the UK and defined in the lCD classification system, with great emphasis being placed on the stability of the overactivity problems across home and school contexts. In contrast, in the US, this cross-situation stability has not been a core diagnostic criterion within previous editions of the DSM (Hinshaw, 1994). In view of this historical difference, it is particularly noteworthy that currently in both the North American DSM IV and the European lCD 10, it is stipulated that symptoms must be present in two or more settings such as home and school for a positive diagnosis to be made.