Sluggish Cognitive Tempo: The Latest Attention Disorder That Could Negatively Impact Your Child’s Development

April 28, 2014 7:00 am , ,

Back in the day, when kids were not paying attention in class it was considered daydreaming. Now, our children are facing more serious diagnoses such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sluggish cognitive tempo – the latest controversial attention disorder.

According to the New York Times, about two million American kids could be suffering from sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT). About half of the children with this disorder are currently diagnosed with having ADHD. These children could potentially be also classified as having a different disorder because they are non-hyperactive. Additionally, another million children that are not being treated for ADHD may fall under the sluggish cognitive tempo classification.

Some characteristics of SCT include mind-wandering, lethargy and difficulty processing certain things. This characterization has been around since the 1980s however, the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology covered the topic within more than 136 pages of their journal. Although daydreaming can seem like a typical child-like behavior, with SCT it can affect the child’s school performance and home life.

Experts are pushing for more research, including pharmacological treatment which has raised a few red flags. Currently about 6 million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers to Disease Control the percentage of children under 17 years of age taking ADHD medications has increased by 1.3 percent since 2007.

Additionally, the average ADHD diagnosis age was 7 years old. When parents hear of disorders listing mind-wandering and inattentiveness as symptoms, they’ll often connect with it as many children are prone to escape into their imaginations. So, the question(s) is, does a child need medication to control this? Will they outgrow it? The number of children diagnosed with ADHD has increased by more than 3 percent since 2003; about 4 percent of adults in America have ADHD as well.

Sluggish cognitive tempo is not mentioned in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, the manual does note that there are three subtypes of ADHD, one predominately hyperactive, another inattentive and one that is a combination of the two.

Until further research is completed, including just where sluggish cognitive tempo will fall in the attention disorder spectrum, parents will have to wait and see what can be done if their child’s daydreaming is interfering with their life.

  • Me

    Maybe if we didn’t have to change the child in order to get them a regular education there wouldn’t be so many kids needing to take it. My son is 4 and had to get on ADD meds bc no daycare or pre school wants to deal with a child who is hyper and inattentive.

  • BliggityBlack

    ADD and ADHD is a made up psychological “disease” created by pharmaceutical companies so that we can pump our kids full of their drugs. Look up this so called disorder and see for yourself. Some kids need more attention than others and not all kids learn the same way. We as parents and teachers need to stop being lazy

    • Ebby

      I agree 100%, the pharmaceuticals are getting rich because they believe in the all mighty dollar. There are other ways to treating this. Natural remedies from the health food store and behavioral modifications. But it takes a long time and people don’t want to take time to do it. They want a quick fix now.

      • Phil J.

        I agree. I also(and this may be a stretch) believe they have cures for certain diseases, cancers, AND I KNOW THEY DO FOR STD’S (Tuskegee experiment) but don’t release them to the general public because then that would stop the flow of cash.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s both a problem & an excuse. In this country we over-diagnose & over-medicate our kids – especially ADD/ADHD. Like someone else commented, if teachers & parents were more involved & if we weren’t quick to want a pill to fix everything.

    • Really

      Teachers need to be more involved. Hmm. Well, first of all teachers do not dispense medication nor can they approve that a child be given medication. That decision is left up to the parents and their child’s doctor. Second, make no mistake about it, teachers are way more involved in their students lives than one might think. I’ll give you am example. For the last year, I have been teaching kindergarten students with Autism. Working with these students has been a challenge but I absolutely love my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

      I communicate almost daily with the parents of my students, giving them strategies on how they can manage their child’s behavior at home, inviting them to workshops designed to help them better understand their child’s disabilities, in addition to simply telling them how their child is performing at school. Half of the parents don’t even respond to my letters. If you look in their notebooks, all you will see are my notes day after day with nothing sent back in return. I send home homework — very simple coloring or tracing pages, things that I know for a fact that my little ones can handle — but instead of sitting down with their child and helping them complete their work, they’d much rather stick them in front of a television screen for the entire night and not even be bothered. Some of my students have absolutely no routine or structure at home. ALL kids need structure and routine, but children with Autism require it even more so than the average student. I get that raising a child with this disability is far from easy, but leaving them to their own devices is not going to help them at all.

      Unfortunately, I cannot control what happens after my students leave my care, but I suppose I should start going home with my kids after school and taking care of them in the home? Cooking for them and bathing them and helping them with their homework? Is that “involved” enough for you? SMH.

    • Jada

      I think that you should evaluate facts before speaking on something you obviously know nothing about. My son has ADD and his education is our priority and we are very much involved. Ignorance is bliss!