I have a dd who is 14 and was diagnosed with ADD (not the H part) in between 5th and 6th grade. We went for many months trying behavior modifications and reward systems, but when a child's brain works differently it can just be frustrating to them and to the parents.
You are correct in thinking that many more kids are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD now, and you certainly don't want to throw medicine at the problem first thing, but PLEASE don't rule it out because of the stigma. The medications that are out there now are not like the old time ritalin where the kid looks doped out for hours until it's close to the time for the next set of medications.
Kids with ADHD CAN SIT STILL when they are focused on something that really interests them. My daughter can read a book she loves for hours, but couldn't stay focused on homework. Her 6th grade year was a nightmare with a minimum of 3 and sometimes 5 HOURS of homework a night--every night, and she was in a class with a teacher who also "didn't believe in ADHD" and would not make any accomodations for her struggles. The other kids took maybe 45 min to an hour to finish the same work, and because my dd was smart, and could get it done, she didn't care how long it took. We began the a small dose of Concerta in the summer and increased the amount twice to what she is on now. What a difference!!! Now she can stay focused at school and throughout the evening to finish homework in a minimal amount of time. Our lives are more peaceful and she feels better about herself since she knows it's not an intelligence issue. She is very creative and loves to do projects and make elaborate stories.
I hope that ADHD is not the case with your son but for his sake, please don't rule it out completely. Look into all the other options and talk to your pediatrician about what other things it could be and then get more facts thru the internet and books about it.
When my family was giving me problems with our situation, I described it to them as ==what if your child needed glasses to see better, but you refused because too many children wear glasses, and I don't want mine being called 4 eyes== That's how I NOW see taking meds for ADD. It's a tool to help the brain focus.
I hope you can figure out what to do about your son, and wish you the very best.