Refocused, A Podcast All About ADHD

Understanding Cognitive Disengagement Syndrome with Dr. Zoe Smith

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Episode notes

What the heck is CDS? Google that question and you find page after page of information on Credit Default Swaps or Controlled Dangerous Substances. But there is a CDS that is directly connected to ADHD and it’s likely something you’ve never heard of before.


So what is Cognitive Disengagement Syndrome and what are the symptoms? How is it similar to ADHD and how is it different? CDS is not an officially recognized diagnosis in the DSM-5. It’s currently what’s called a clinical construct - a term used in psychology to define a group of behaviors. 


Researchers, including today’s guest Dr. Zoe Smith, have been working for years to get the construct recognized and there is still so much we don’t know about CDS. Without an official diagnosis, it can be hard for providers to identify the signs and symptoms of CDS and Dr. Z is joining us to share what we do know about this relatively unknown comorbid condition. 


  • Zoe R. Smith, PhD (she/her) is an assistant professor of psychology at Loyola University Chicago with research interests in the development of culturally-responsive assessments and interventions for adolescents. She is the leader of ACCTION Lab, an organization that is dedicated to community-based assessment and intervention development for youth with ADHD and Cognitive Disengagement Syndrome. She has authored or co-authored numerous scholarly articles on ADHD and CDS and served with 12 other scholars beginning in 2021 in a work group to evaluate current knowledge and identify key directions in the study of sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT).


Instagram: @ACCTIONLab X(Twitter): @DrZoeRSmith TikTok: @ACCTION.Lab


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  • Video production assistance is provided by the wonderful people at Deksia.

  • The theme music for Refocused was created by Louis Inglis, a songwriter and composer in Perth, Australia who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39. To learn more about his work, check out his online studio here. You can also email Louis directly here.

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