Hollis says that recognition of ADHD has been held back by misunderstanding. Kids with ADHD may develop behavioral difficulties as a result of their condition, but he adds that “ADHD is not about bad behavior”. The main problem is the way the brain manages information, and ADHD is as real as autism, dyslexia and other developmental brain disorders. About one in 50 children have moderate to severe ADHD. Rates of diagnosis and treatment have increased hugely from the 1970s when ADHD was considered rare.

Hollis says the increase is due to better recognition, though the growth in the use of medication has plateaued in the past eight years, with about seven in 1,000 children in the UK receiving it. Rates of medication use in the US are five to 10 times higher, and treatment there is sometimes started in children under five years old – which is very rare in the UK.

Kids with ADHD will still often fall behind at school for difficulties that are not their fault. “I think it’s appalling,” says Hollis. “There’s still so much stigma and misinformation.” Hollis thinks behavioral therapy and information for parents can help them manage better, and that teachers and employers need to be better informed about the condition. Plenty of exercises, sleep and a healthy diet are good for all children, but a lack of any of these doesn’t itself cause ADHD. “Although coaching can help individuals, the evidence for non-drug therapies such as behavior therapy and cognitive training reducing ADHD symptoms is disappointing,” he says.

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