Is ADHD an over-diagnosed disorder?
by thaus1 on February 17, 2014 - 10:58pm
There has been a 66% increase in medical visits regarding ADHD diagnosis in school-aged children between 2000 and 2010. Is this rise due to an increase awareness of ADHD symptoms or is it just an easy fix for the immature behaviors many children display? This article gives two mother’s first-hand accounts of dealing with a child who struggles in school and exhibits ADHD-like symptoms. They have to decide if medicating their child is the best option or if the behaviors can be dealt with in another manner. ADHD is becoming increasingly easy for medical professionals to diagnose and treat (Gulli, 2012). The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has recently changed the requirements to symptoms appearing before the age of 12, rather than before the age of 6, thus broadening the eligibility of more patients. From my experience as a college student, I know several people who are prescribed ADHD medication simply because they express to their doctor that they cannot focus well in class. In reality, they are using the Adderall as a means of staying up all night to cram for a major exam. If it is this easy for us to obtain the medicine, how easy is it for parents, whom have difficulty dealing with a growing child’s temper tantrums, to have their child diagnosed? Gulli (2012) talks about how a teacher tries to convince one of the mothers that her child should to be put on medication to control his behavior. In many cases, it is the teachers who notice a child’s unruly or distractive behavior and constitutes it as ADHD symptoms. However, I believe that teachers need to be more aware of the ‘normal’ tendencies of school-aged children to display some of these actions, and not simply write it off as needing medication to calm down. Of course there are a number of children who do indeed suffer from ADHD and need medication to relieve the symptoms of the disorder. As the article states, there are many symptoms that are related to ADHD, making it hard to determine whether or not a child is suffering from the disorder or just expressing ‘normal’, immature childhood behaviors.
In this article, Gulli (2012) includes much information from the experiences of two mothers who are dealing with their son’s behavior problems. Each of the stories give a subtly different perspective on prescribing medication to children displaying ADHD-like symptoms. One of the mothers finds an alternative method, moving the child to a new school that is more tolerant and accommodating to children with behavior problems, rather than jumping to the diagnosis of ADHD and medicating her son. The other mother tries to find alternative ways of dealing with the behaviors, but ultimately her son is diagnosed and put on medication. Both of these anecdotes lead to one of the main conclusions in the article; that ADHD is a complex disorder and it is sometimes hard to differentiate people who are displaying problem behaviors that mimic ADHD symptoms from those who are suffering from the disorder.
Gulli, C. (2012, June 4). Overmedicated children: ill or immature? Maclean's, 125(21), 42-44.
Link to Article