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Child agitation, a notion with unclear boundaries and the subject of intense controversy, is an exemplary case for highlighting the complex links between classification of disorders and family organization. This paper focuses on the experience of families belonging to “Hyper-Supers TDAH France,” an association promoting the use of the ADHD diagnosis. Our survey, based on thirty-seven interviews conducted with twenty-seven different families, leads us to put into perspective an interpretation in terms of medicalization of school failure. While certain aspects of the child’s life are medicalized, contradictory processes are also at stake. The diagnostic bid is underpinned by other reasons, related as much to school issues as to social trajectories and family configurations. The diagnosis of ADHD appears as an opportunity for parents to regain control in several areas. Moreover, the different forms of treatment of disorders, from the use of medication to the transformation of educational practices, invite us to distinguish between medicalization and pathologization. Indeed, considering that a problem is health-related does not necessarily mean that health practices, such as taking medication, are adopted. On the contrary, a drug can be used to normalize the situation, while work on new educational practices can be accompanied by an emphasis on the pathological nature of the situation.


  • childhood
  • ADHD
  • family
Aude Béliard
Jean-Sébastien Eideliman
Maïa Fansten
Sarra Mougel
Maëlle Planche
Sébastien Vaumoron
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