Attention deficits, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and intellectual disabilities

UMMS Affiliation

Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity; therapy; Brain; Central Nervous System Stimulants; Child; Chromosome Deletion; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; Humans; Mental Disorders; Mental Retardation; Methylphenidate; Phenotype


Mental and Social Health | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychiatry and Psychology


Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its earlier nosologic classifications have been extensively investigated since the 1960s, with PubMed listings alone exceeding 13,000 entries. Strides have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in individuals with intellectual function in the normal range, as described in companion reviews in this special issue. In contrast, comparatively little is known about ADHD in intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) despite the possibility that ADHD is statistically overrepresented among individuals with IDD (Pearson et al. 1997 Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in mental retardation: nature of attention deficits. In: Burack J, Enns J, editors. Attention, development, and psychopathology. New York: Guilford Press. p 205-229; Pearson et al. 2000 Am. J. Ment. Retard. 105:236-251). Here, we provide a review of diagnostic controversies in ADHD with IDD, and discuss several topics that are currently attracting research efforts in the field. These include behavioral phenotyping and attempts to come to grips with problems of behavioral and etiological heterogeneity. Additionally, we consider issues relating to methodologically sound assessment of attention disorders and evidence-based intervention procedures that may clarify and/or ameliorate attention deficits in individuals with IDD.

DOI of Published Version



Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2008;14(4):285-92. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Developmental disabilities research reviews

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID