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Why should we care?

1. Relationships

Impaired family relationships have been reported in families of children with ADHD:

  • Research has indicated that young people with ADHD display higher rates of conflict behaviours, such as negative comments, social irritability, and poorly adapted levels of communication and involvement.3
  • Parents with an ADHD child are three times more likely to separate or divorce than parents with children who do not have ADHD.10
  • Girls with ADHD tend to have fewer friends11 and more problems with peers and the opposite sex.12,13

2. Academic Achievement

  • US studies show that 90% of children with ADHD underachieve academically at school14 and also that children with ADHD fall behind their peers academically.15 Studies have shown that this trend extends to children with no formal diagnosis of ADHD but who demonstrate a number of key ADHD characteristics in the classroom, for example, severe inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.16
  • Children and young people with ADHD have greater impaired attention, less impulse control, and greater off-task, restless and vocal behaviour during academic tasks,17 poor reading skills,18 and speech and language problems.19 These impairments in people with ADHD often lead to a lower probability of completing schooling and a lower-ranking occupational position, when compared with children who do not have ADHD.20

3. Society

People with ADHD are at high risk of early onset and persistent antisocial behaviour21 and the association between ADHD and crime is becoming increasingly recognised and regarded with concern.

  • US data showed that youths with ADHD who develop an antisocial or substance use disorder are twice as likely to be arrested and, once involved in crime, are more likely to be convicted of a higher number of crimes, compared with those without the condition.22
  • Studies of young people with ADHD found they had markedly elevated rates of antisocial, mood and anxiety disorders23 and that adolescent substance misuse, in particular, seems to be more common.24
  • Studies conducted in the US, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Finland and Norway suggest that around two-thirds of young offenders and up to half of the adult prison population had screened positively for ADHD in childhood to some degree of impairment.25 Despite this, ADHD is often under-diagnosed and under-treated.25

4. Economic

  • According to NICE, ADHD is associated with a significant financial and/or emotional cost to the healthcare system, education services, carers and families and society as a whole.3 Providing effective intervention could improve the quality of life of individuals with ADHD, their carer’s and their families, while also reducing the financial implications and psychological burden of ADHD to society. Specifically when looking at schools, it costs around £4,000 per annum to teach a child in a mainstream school and £15,000 per child per annum in a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), where most permanently excluded pupils are educated. There is a clear economic as well as moral case to do more thorough early intervention, so pupils can access the right support before they reach the point of permanent exclusion.1