ADHD is Not a One Size Fits All
Research has recently begun to uncover the true complexity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Damien Fair, Ph.D. and colleague Joel Nigg, Ph.D. suggests that there are in fact multiple subtypes of ADHD, instead of simply the sole disorder itself.
Fair and colleagues sought to determine whether subtypes could by distinguished by comparing test results of several cognitive skills tests among a sample of ADHD patients and a control group. They found that they were able to categorize the ADHD patients due to their strengths and weaknesses.1
With results published, Fair goes on to suggest needed changes to diagnostic methods of the DSM. He states that as there are no good markers for the disorder, a diagnosis is often relying upon what parents and teachers state about the child, which can lead to inconsistencies.1 In fact, as parents and teachers may be aware of the disorder’s presence, they may not be aware of the direct strengths and weaknesses leading to a specific subtype. Fair suggests that newer approaches should instead highlight the various subtypes of the disease and the different impacts each has.1
For the future, Fair and colleagues hope to strengthen the diagnostic process for ADHD children, in order to offer them a better prognosis through personalized treatments.1 They also will focus more on the following questions: Once a child with ADHD has been subcategorized, do they maintain it over time? and Are subcategories genetic or related to family, and will that predict how well one will do in life?1
 Fair, D.A.; Bathula, D.; Nikolas, M.A.; Nigg, J.T. (2012, Apr. 2). Distinct Neuropsychological Subgroups in Typically Developing Youth Inform Heterogeneity in Children with ADHD. Proc Natl Adac Sci USA.