Date of Submission

February 2004


The diagnosis of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has increased over the last few years in Australia. ADHD is currently understood largely through a medical perspective, and in that context, the treatment recommended is stimulant medication. ADHD is a mental health label given to children who exhibit challenging behaviour. These children are diagnosed according to the categories stated in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) - IV. To date, there is no medical test children can undertake to show that they 'have' ADHD. This research focuses on an alternative view of ADHD. Focussing upon families' experience of ADHD, and the medicalisation of children's behaviour, it argues that behaviour is socially influenced and constructed. It is because insufficient attention has been given to the family experience and the social implications of ADHD, that the child is often seen as 'the problem'. The gap in our understanding of ADHD is situated in our understanding of the broader social context. To challenge this I will explore perceptions of the 'good child', 'good mothers' and the social consequences of inappropriate behaviour. Each family was interviewed five times every three months over a two-year period. Their stories and experiences are presented in this thesis.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


159 pages


Faculty of Arts and Sciences