Growing along with those numbers is one of the most aggressive, lucrative, bewildering and often just plain useless sales forces humanity has ever seen - call it the ADHD-industrial complex.
This includes not only the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, which by one measure sells more than $5 billion worth of ADHD medications each year - and which only in the United States and New Zealand may market directly to the public - but a growing league of all-but-unregulated, usually costly and sometimes wildly imaginative alternatives, including herbal supplements, complicated exercise regimes to stimulate specific brain regions, magnetic mattresses, personal coaches and therapy "assisted" by dolphins.
If modern mothering is madness, what metaphor might suit the straw-grasping of parents of children with this disorder, whose main symptoms are distraction, inattentiveness, forgetfulness and impulsivity? The ADHD industry's exuberance matches the vulnerability of its target market: millions of desperate parents who, given the strongly hereditary nature of ADHD, are often just as distracted and impulsive as their progeny.
The mother herself got a diagnosis of ADHD at age 50. Similarly, some parents of kids on the spectrum learn (or at least suspect) that they have HFA or AS.