Disability, childhood studies and the construction of medical discourses: questioning attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; a theoretical perspective

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This chapter employs sociological perspective from childhood studies and disability studies within the UK to question the identification and diagnosis of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It investigates the contemporary dynamic relations between medical science, public policy, children’s rights, emancipatory principles and citizenship. This investigation highlights a contrast between medical literature/public policy guidelines on ADHD and human rights perspectives. By critically examining the sociological context that underpins the identification of problematic childhood behaviour a number of questions are raised regarding the diagnoses of children and young people labelled as having ADHD. The chapter concludes that, at present, diagnostic approaches to ADHD do not sufficiently engage with the sociological issues that influence children’s and young people’s lives and therefore do not give enough consideration to how children and young people can take charge of resolving their own life issues.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical New Perspectives on ADHD
EditorsGwynedd Lloyd
Place of PublicationOxon
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2006


  • sociological perspective
  • childhood studies
  • disability studies
  • ADHD

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