Penn to Offer Free, Online Class on ADHD

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto | | 215-898-4820February 8, 2013

If you’re one of the people who takes the University of Pennsylvania online course “’Pay Attention!!’ ADHD Through the Lifespan,” you will learn that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder isn’t just kid stuff.

Even though between 5 and 8 percent of school-aged children in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD, it is estimated that 4 percent of adults also suffer from some form of attention deficit disorder -- and that number is increasing.

This is the first time that Anthony L. Rostain, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine is opening the contents of his Ivy League classroom to the world via the Coursera online platform.

As the director of education for the Department of Psychiatry, Rostain oversees medical student education, residency and fellowship training.  His primary clinical focus is lifespan neurodevelopmental psychiatry, and he treats patients of all ages with ADHD, learning disabilities, social-communication disorders and autistic spectrum disorders like Asperger syndrome.

“I wanted to share my knowledge on ADHD with as broad an audience as possible,” Rostain says.  “It is important that the public learn the facts about the underlying neuroscience and psychology of ADHD.

“There’s a lot of controversy, misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding ADHD, which I hope to address.  And, when it comes to recent advances in psychiatry, clinical neuroscience and psychology, the more people are informed, the better.”

Ideally, students who sign up for the online class should have a familiarity with psychology or neuroscience, because the class will cover the complexities of ADHD from scientific and clinical perspectives. 

“I want students to learn some of the science underlying our current understanding of ADHD,” Rostain explains. 

But, that should not discourage any potential students who might not have a background in the sciences. 

“’Pay Attention!!’” welcomes anyone who might be interested in the topic.  Rostain says he understands that not everyone enrolled in the course will be strong in science and that they are coming to the class from various education levels. 

In the past, not only has he lectured to medical audiences, but he has spent a fair amount of time providing public talks for Children and Adults with ADHD, an advocacy organization that works to provide facts, resources and support to those affected by the disorder. 

This online class will consist of short lecture videos of 20-30 minutes, each containing as many as three integrated quiz questions.  To complete the course, students will be expected to conduct a critical article review, a case review and a medication review.  They will also be expected to complete several quizzes and a final examination.

“There are so many interesting questions we’re beginning to answer about how the mind develops, how it functions and what goes wrong in disorders like ADHD,” he says.  “I’m hoping students come to a deeper and broader understanding of the impact ADHD can have and appreciate ADHD’s multi-dimensional nature. It is essential to look at the disorder through a wide lens.

“‘Pay Attention!!’ – ADHD Through the Lifespan” starts March 18 and lasts 12 weeks. 

Registration or additional information is available at

Information about the range of online courses offered by Penn via Coursera is at