McBurnett speaks to The New York Times about the debate surrounding sluggish cognitive tempo

Keith McBurnett, PhD, recently spoke to the New York Times about the possible identification of a new disorder that could vastly expand the ranks of young people treated for attention problems. Called sluggish cognitive tempo, the condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing.

Papers have proposed that a recognition of sluggish cognitive tempo could help resolve some longstanding confusion about ADHD, which includes about two million children who are not hyperactive, but merely inattentive. Some researchers propose that about half of those children would be better classified as having sluggish cognitive tempo, with perhaps one million additional children who do not meet ADHD’s criteria now, having the new disorder as well.

Yet some experts, including McBurnett, say that there is no consensus on the new disorder’s specific symptoms, let alone scientific validity. “We haven’t even agreed on the symptom list — that’s how early on we are in the process,” said McBurnett.