It makes sense for two reasons. Some of the kids really do grow out of this. That's part of why ADHD is such a controversial diagnosis. Every clinician knows somebody who in third grade was always in the principal's office and always in trouble. The kid ends up going to Harvard. All of our biological studies suggest there are subgroups of kids with ADHD who have different-than-normal processes going on in their brains. This may be the most benign one. With other subgroups, the kids may get better because certain parts of the brain get larger to create an alternative intelligence system. They're not the ones who grow out of it.
I'm really on thin ice here—that's just a hypothesis. All we've established in this study is that if you get a big group of ADHD kids and do this analysis, they're really developing differently than the controls. The next step is to connect this to outcomes. That will take us at least two years.
If I were the parent of a kid with ADHD, what would you tell me to do about this new information?
If I were a parent, I wouldn't do anything different now, except I would say, "Geez, they're really starting to understand there are different kinds of ADHD."
ADHD is really complicated. There are very likely several different subgroups of the disorder. Maybe in five years, we might have a test based on this. Then we would be able to know, are kids going to grow out of it or not? But parents shouldn't rush to pay to get a scan of their kid. It won't tell us anything now.
But a lot of parents would rest easier knowing their kid has the "grow-out-of-it" form of ADHD, if that proves to be true.
Yes. At least we would know to bear with them and not put as much effort into them as to the ones who are in it for the long haul.