Homelessness has many causes, but recently published research adds an unexpected one to the mix: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
In a first-of-its-kind study, a team tracked 134 boys who were diagnosed with “hyperkinetic reaction of childhood” in the 1970s, when they were six to 12 years old.
When they were re-evaluated at age 41, nearly 24 percent reported they had experienced at least one period of homelessness that lasted a week or longer. The figure for a comparison group of boys was 4.4 percent.
The researchers excluded kids who showed a pattern of aggressive or antisocial behavior, suggesting ADHD itself is a strong predictor of homelessness.
Youngsters who receive the diagnosis should “be followed for extended periods,” they write in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, even if “active symptoms are no longer evident.” An undiagnosed recurrence could mean time spent on the streets.