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Why daydreaming may be the next childhood psychiatric target

Published: Thursday, April 17 2014 12:12 p.m. MDT

Parents who dodged the bullet on hyperactivity may want to duck as the psychiatric profession comes around for another pass, this time targeting kids who are daydreamy with what they are calling "Slow Cognitive Tempo" disorder.

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While parents and teachers have been focused for years on the debate of ADHD, as we outlined earlier this year, some psychiatrists are more interested in the kid who causes no disruption at all, but merely sits staring out the window.

The new frontier of ADHD is "Sluggish Cognitive Tempo," or SCT.

"The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology devoted 136 pages of its January issue to papers describing the illness," writes Alan Schwarz at the New York Times, "with the lead paper claiming that the question of its existence 'seems to be laid to rest as of this issue.' The psychologist Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina, for 30 years one of A.D.H.D.’s most influential and visible proponents, has claimed in research papers and lectures that sluggish cognitive tempo 'has become the new attention disorder.'”

One leading proponent of SCT is Dr. Russell Barkley, who, The Guardian reports, 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 U.S., that would add up to around two million children."

Dr. Allen Frances, who headed the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV for the American Psychiatric Association, is not amused and is making no bones about it.

"Sluggish Cognitive Tempo is a remarkably silly name for an even sillier proposal," Frances wrote at the Psychology Today website. "Its main characteristics are vaguely described but include some combination daydreaming, lethargy, and slow mental processing. Its proponents estimate that SCT afflicts approximately 2 million children. Not surprisingly, Eli Lilly is already on the case."

"Some of the researchers who contributed to the journal issue have financial ties to the the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. They'd previously published research on the ADHD drug Strattera as a possible treatment for the condition," noted Business Insider.

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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