Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors



First Advisor

Jeanne Shea


perceived trends in ADHD diagnosis, symptoms, and trends


My research questions are: What can local school professional staff members’ perceptions and observations, together with available information on school services and de-identified school demographic data, tell us about retrospective and cross-sectional trends in ADHD symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and behavioral management in local Vermont schools? Is there higher incidence based on male gender, lower SES, or White racial classification, as found in other studies? How do local school professionals explain any perceived retrospective or cross-sectional trends in ADHD symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment in their schools? Are there any differences across school level (elementary, middle, versus high school)?

In interviewing twelve school staff members, I found that local Vermont school staff believe it is a challenge differentiating symptoms and diagnosis of ADHD from anxiety. Family trauma is also a huge component to a child’s behavior which may look similar to ADHD-like symptoms and behaviors. Majority of school staff indicate that pediatricians are increasingly prescribing ADHD medications to children with little communication from the school. This is seen as frustrating and unprofessional from the school staff’s perspective as parents cannot be the single reporter and evaluator. School staff strongly feel that there is an unhealthy dependence on medication and only medication for treatment. Behavioral therapy is not used properly and not used enough at schools. There was variation by profession with the regard to school staff perception of the amount of increase in ADHD diagnosis of the younger cohort coming through elementary school, however, many school staff assert that the apparent increase in prevalence is due to parental labeling and by FlashMall" > pediatricians overdiagnosing ADHD and overprescribing ADHD medication.