Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - "ADD" or "ADHD" - affects between five to ten percent (5% - 10%) of all children in the United States, and three to six percent (3% - 6%) of adults. About 35% of all children referred to mental health clinics are referred for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, making it one of the most prevalent of all childhood psychiatric disorders.
The 5% number is a solid, conservative number supported by a lot of research. Even at 5% each classroom in America will have one or two (2) ADHD kids in the class. So it is a very real, and very significant problem across America.
When only Parent Rating Scales are used in a research project, the numbers will range from a low of seven percent (7%) of school-aged children to a high of twenty-three percent (23%) of children.
You may see published estimates stating that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may effect as many as 20% to 30% of children in America, but these numbers are not really supported by research data, and are probably inflated for the purpose of trying to sell something.
However, we should note that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Head Injuries, or other Specific Learning Disabilities, are often mistaken for ADD ADHD, which can inflate the numbers reported. As many as 10% of children are now being born with FAS or are drug exposed babies.
ADHD is not a "fad" disorder, nor is it a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to get more kids on drugs. It is a very real neurological condition that is common enough as to require parents, teachers, and physicians to become better educated about its causes, the available treatment options, and the potential problems with doing nothing. Learn more about ADHD at the ADHD Information Library.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.