ADHD and its comorbidity: an example of gene–environment interaction and its implications for child and family social work


David Howe,
The School of Social Work and Psychology,
Elizabeth Fry Building,
University of East Anglia,
Room EFB 2.23,
Norwich NR4 7TJ,


In many of their cases, child and family social workers, particularly those involved with abuse and neglect, will find themselves also working with children who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The paper reviews current understandings and debates about the nature and causes of ADHD. Although modern evidence suggests the neurobiological basis of the condition and the effectiveness of medication in treating the behaviour, it is also recognized that the quality of the child's caregiving and social environment plays a significant role in the aetiology, maintenance and treatment of ADHD. Recognizing the part that psychosocial elements play in understanding the condition, child and family social workers can be valued members of multidisciplinary teams treating ADHD in which they offer support to parents, helping them to understand and manage their ADHD-diagnosed child.