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May 1981

Standardized Test for Attention Span?

Author Affiliations

University of Colorado Health Sciences Center 4200 E Ninth Ave Denver, CO 80262

Am J Dis Child. 1981;135(5):484. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1981.02130290078028

Sir.—I wholeheartedly agree with the proposal of Carey and McDevitt (Journal 1980;134:926-929) to "abandon" the terms "hyperactivity" and "minimal brain dysfunction." From my perspective, the etiology of minimal brain dysfunction is nonexistent, and most purely hyperactive children (those without emotional problems) have adequate attention spans. While DSM III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual—American Psychiatric Association) has attempted to correct some of the weaknesses in nomenclature, unfortunately the new designation has become "attention deficit disorder,"1 rather than "inadequate" or "abnormal attention span." Will any parent be able to remember his child's diagnosis? Down with vague terminology and jargon!

The most innovative part of the article is the authors' recommendation that every child with a major behavioral, developmental, or school problem deserves a "neurobehavioral profile." All the areas mentioned in the profile are fairly easy to measure with available techniques (except one). We sorely need a standardized test for attention span.

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