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May 13, 1988

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Physicians Helping Parents Pay More Heed

JAMA. 1988;259(18):2647-2652. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720180003003

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A FEW YEARS ago, Dennis Cantwell, MD, was giving a lecture on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder to his colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). As Cantwell, the Joseph Campbell professor of child psychiatry, finished, a fellow physician exclaimed, "Now I understand what's wrong with my son."

"How old is the boy?," Cantwell inquired.

"Thirty-four" was the reply.

Long Time to Diagnosis  Sometimes it can take a long time to arrive at a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition that may affect as many as one in five school-age children and which does not, as had been assumed, disappear after puberty. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is the single most prevalent disability reported by elementary schools and one of the most common referral problems to child psychiatry outpatient clinics. It is probably the most researched problem in child psychiatry.Adults with a history of