ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDERS
Janet W. Lerner Northeastern Illinois University
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a relatively new diagnostic label for children. ADD constitutes a chronic neurobiological condition characterized by developmentally inappropriate attention skills, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity ( Barkley, 1990). The term is used by many professionals, such as the U.S. Department of Education ( 1991), to identify these children. An alternative diagnostic term is recommended by the American Psychiatric Association ( 1994) -- namely, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) -- and this referent is used in the DSM-IV ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed.). In practice, both ADD and ADHD describe the same disability and are frequently used interchangeably ( Rief, 1993). Even though the designations ADD and ADHD are relatively recent, children with the characteristics of ADD have long been recognized and posed a challenge for parents, psychologists, educators, and physicians.
The suspicion that many Americans seem to have ADD may be true. One can speculate that as Americans we inherited the genetic characteristics of our impulsive, hyperactive risk-taking ancestors. After all, we are the descendants of people who made the rash, high-risk decision to leave their native countries and families to start life anew in America. Their peers and family members who remained in the "old country" were the attentive, reflective, conservative people who did not choose to take that impetuous trio to the new world.