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Sluggish cognitive tempo: the ADHD-like disorder that explains daydreaming?

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According to emerging research, many children previously diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could be living with another condition entirely – but not everyone agrees

The tough-minded call it naughtiness. Some parents blame dull teaching. More than a century after it was first described, there are still plenty of people who wonder whether children who can’t concentrate at school are really suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Now a group of researchers think that millions of them are not, but that they are living with something else instead.

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Sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT), as the condition has been called, was the big story in the January issue of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. And to some extent it does tidy up a loose end that has been hanging around for decades: many of those diagnosed with ADHD are not hyperactive at all.

Certainly these children struggle to listen to teachers or focus on their schoolwork, and their performance suffers, but they are not racing around the classroom knocking over pencil pots. They are the ones that used to be called daydreamers, and their work doesn’t get done just the same.

There is no mention of SCT in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Instead the book classifies ADHD into three subtypes: one predominantly hyperactive, one predominantly inattentive and one a combination of the two.

According to Dr Russell Barkley, a leading proponent of the SCT theory — he calls the condition “the second attention disorder” — between a third and a half of all those diagnosed with the inattentive subtype of ADHD are, in fact, suffering from SCT, and about the same number again remain undiagnosed. In the US, that would add up to around two million children.

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“These children are not the ones giving adults much trouble, so they’re easy to miss,” Dr Keith McBurnett, another contributor to the January special issue, told the New York Times. “Anything we can do to understand what’s going on with these kids is a good thing.”

Not everyone agrees. Dr Allen Frances at Duke University describes SCT as “a fad in evolution”. He is concerned about the possible overdiagnosis of ADHD, now applied to more than six million children in the US, as well as the widespread use of drugs to treat it. Meanwhile in the UK, we are heading in the same direction. Prescriptions for methylphenidate, which is used in the more severe cases of ADHD, rose from 420,000 in 2007 to 657,000 in 2012.

There are also familiar murmurs about “disease-mongering”, not to mention the relationship between some of the researchers into SCT and Eli Lilly, a company that is trialling drugs that might treat it. There is even, let’s say, a lively debate on Wikipedia about Barkley’s role in writing the SCT page. If we want the truth of the matter, as always in science, we will have to wait and see.

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© Guardian News and Media 2014

[Image: “Little Girl Reading And Daydreaming In The Living Room,” via Shutterstock]

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Mnuchin begs Chris Wallace: Take the president ‘very literally’ except on being ‘the chosen one’

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted on Sunday that Americans should take President Donald Trump's hyperbolic comments "very literally" -- but he allowed for some exceptions.

During an interview on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace noted that Trump had recently "ordered" companies not to do business with China.

"When the president says something, how seriously, how literally should we take it?" Wallace asked.

"I think most of the time, you should take it very literally," Mnuchin insisted. "I think sometimes he says things that are meant to be a joke."

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White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’

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Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.

Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

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Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland

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They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.

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