Nightly News | January 23, 2013
>>> as we mentioned before the break, there are new numbers out tonight that show a surge in cases of adhd in children in this country. there's also an explanation behind the spike in these numbers. we get that story from our chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderm snyderman.
>> right here.
>> reporter: christine hubner said she had never even heard of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder before her son scott was diagnosed in first grade. that was 13 years ago.
>> he was very disruptive.
>> i did always feel like i was getting in trouble.
>> reporter: scott is now 19 and it's been a difficult journey for this mother and son. one more parents are now facing. in a new study, 843,000 children, ages 5 to 11, were followed from 2001 to 2010 . the number diagnosed with adhd rose 24%. the biggest increases were in black girls and hispanic and white boys. one reason, increased awareness. adhd is usually diagnosed by a mental health professional with input from parents and teachers. typically, adhd symptoms arise in early childhood and are often mistaken for misbehavior. signs include a child easily distracted or forgetful. one who has difficulty listening, paying attention or sitting still. and a child who struggles with instructions and organization. but what ultimately leads to a diagnosis is not just the type of behavior, but the frequency and severity.
>> so it's not something that, you know, that's the child's fault or that the parent's fault. it really is a brain-based disorder.
>> reporter: scott and his mom are now close, after struggling with therapy, medication, frustration and guilt.
>> he is very kind and nurturing, and it's just shown me what a great person he really is.
>> reporter: ultimately, scott discovered his passion, music. which is helping with concentration and he is now medication-free.
>> thank you.
>> to find something that i can focus on was absolutely life-alt life-altering.
>> reporter: he's also working to become a firefighter. and says a diagnosis of adhd doesn't have to mean a lifetime of struggle. dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, new york.