How Do ADHD Kids REALLY Do As Adults?

I recently saw a Reuters article entitled: "Kids with ADHD have dimmer prospects as adults."

The article appears to have been picked up by other news agencies who are now directly reprinting it or have came up with their own variations on the theme. It goes on to explain that when kids with ADHD grow up they, "have less education and lower income, on average, and higher rates of divorce and substance abuse."

They did quote the lead researcher as saying, "A lot of them do fine,but there is a small proportion that is in a great deal of difficulty." But then they go on to explain all of the bad things that happen to kids with ADHD when they grown up.

I really didn't like the way this article takes the facts out of context. It's based on a research article "Clinical and Functional Outcome of Childhood Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder 33 Years Later" which was recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. I read the original study, and, in it, researchers followed 135 white males with ADHD like symptoms from the time they were teens until today. They then compared the group to a similar group of white males with the same social demographic back ground and noted the differences in outcomes.

I see several flaws in this:

  1. It was focused on the minority.The vast majority of the men with ADHD did great and had "outcomes" that were the exact same as the men without ADHD. Only a small percentage of the "ADHD kids" grew up to have problems.
  2. It doesn't account for growing ADHD knowledge and resources. We did not have very good interventions for kids with ADHD in the 1970's. Parents and teachers (especially my readers) now have much better resources to help children with ADHD. The reason we wrote Live Smart: ADHD was to give parents an edge.  With better resources and better treatment options, kids will have better outcomes.
  3. Income averages in both groups seem off. In the study, the researchers were pointing out that AHDHers had lower incomes than the control group because the ADHDers had an average income of $93,000, and the control group had an average income of $175,000.  But how could the average incomes be so high for either?! In the U.S., the mean household income is $46,000. So, why, in this study, are the people with ADHD making twice as much on average, and the control group making 4 times more than the rest of us on average? Something here doesn't add up.

Remember: Just because something is true for some of the men in this study, doesn't mean that it's true for you or your child. People with ADHD have the potential to lead amazing, exceptional lives!


Stay Healthy,
Dr. Jeff MD

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