In the ADHD Social Construct Theory the idea is that ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are generally speaking, not biological or psychiatric disorders, but can be better explained by environmental causes or even the personality type of the person. For example an ADD person can be introvert, while the hyperactive person is an extrovert.
This theory suggests that the observed behaviors are not abnormal, but normal behavior for a part of the human race. However the extreme overreactions are caused by environmental factors. Among these factors are cramped living conditions with inadequate play space, the United States' classroom environment together with the increased educational burden being expected from children today, and the stress parents are under, making it more difficult to be in tune with their children, like parents are in Africa are able to do.
As an example: a young child sitting quiet and still for three quarters of an hour at a time, listening to something they are told to learn, but which they do not find interesting, is an unnatural behavior. This a new phenomenon in human history.
ADHD was not a problem of note until after the Industrial Revolution. The social changes in western society created environments and situations where this behavior became problematic. Certain children who are boredom intolerant are likely to react against this unnatural environment by either “tuning out” (ADD) or becoming restless and a disturbance (ADHD).
Different cultures have different expectations of behavior and are more or less tolerant of active children. In United States' schools, an attitude of intolerance towards children behaving in a manner similar to that described as ADHD has developed.
In other cultures that are more tolerant see the same behavior as just an “active child.” Some may even perceive the behavior as healthy. This is especially so where these people do not live in high rise apartments, but in smaller communities in more natural environments, where the children can run free.
Parenting styles vary, even within the Western culture sphere. The parenting styles in Northern Europe are generally more child centered than in the United States. Dutch parents for example are generally more aware of their children's arousal and self-regulation, than the average parent in the United states, and they take care their children get sufficient sleep and are not over stimulated.
Schools in different countries have different attitudes, which facilitate accommodation of different children or restrict all children into the same regimen. Canada is ahead of the United States in this regard, having a more flexible attitude. Many European schools have alternative seating styles and even allow for movement in class.
There are studies which show that the rate of ADHD like behavior is fairly consistent in children all over the world. However the rate children are diagnosed varies greatly. In some cultures that behavior is not considered impairing the children. In the United States parents, especially when pressured from schools, are encouraged to look for medical treatment, usually stimulant drugs.
Within western society there are definite differences even in the diagnosis. In Europe the ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision) is used instead of the United States' DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition). The ICD-10 has a different level of diagnosis of ADD and ADHD, resulting in 3 to 4 times fewer diagnoses, than in the United States with the DSM-IV.
The proponents of the ADHD Social Construct Theory argue that while biological factors do play a large role in difficulties sitting still or concentrating on schoolwork in some children, the real problem is that the school systems, have failed to integrate these children with the social expectations that the schools have on them.
Some theories will explain some aspects of ADHD, while other theories show other sides of the condition. There is no single explanation. ADHD is complex. Trying to simplify it is not science, but wishful thinking. ADHD is very individual, in both cause, symptoms and treatment. One theory might explain one individual's ADHD, while another theory explains another person's ADD, and a third person may find their explanation in parts from three theories. in this context the ADHD Social Construct Theory should be given more consideration than it is at present.