Written By: Liana Fahie
Recently, there have been many conceptions about ADHD. Some question whether ADHD really exists or if it’s just a gimmick used by pharmaceutical companies to make money. Others would argue that it’s a valid disorder. The most popular opinion seems to be that it’s commonly misdiagnosed.
ADHD is defined as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It was first discovered in 1902 but not officially named till 1980 when it was decided that it was a disorder that could be properly categorized. There are three types of ADHD, combined type, predominately inattentive type, and predominately hyperactive-impulsive type. The most common type is the combined type, which combines both major symptoms of inattentiveness as well as hyperactivity. Most common misconceptions about this disorder are that children who have it are dumb, lazy and see it as an excuse to act out. It’s not a disorder that can be diagnosed through blood tests or any sort of X ray testing, its existence is determined mainly by suggestion of a teacher or day care figure then looked into by a psychiatrist to prescribe a low dose of medicine to help the child battle the disorder. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 8.4% of children ages 13-17 get diagnosed as having ADHD each year. That’s about an estimate of 5.2 million kids. In more relatable terms, about 1 out of 10 kids is diagnosed as having the disorder. There has been a reported 3% increase each year in kids who have been diagnosed with having ADHD from tests from 1997-2006 in comparison to tests today. It’s thought that numbers of kids with ADHD are actually higher than speculated by health care officials and seemingly more common in boys than in girls.
It’s not surprising that boys are more susceptible to this disorder than girls are. Boys are characteristically more rowdy than girls in nature. While females are more likely to sit and talk with friends as kids, boys are more likely to be very active and playful. Also ADHD is over diagnosed in urban areas. A possible suggestion as to why many kids in these areas get over diagnosed could be due to their family background. Many times kids in urban areas act out to a multitude of outside factors among their family lives. This is why it is increasingly important to be mindful of outside factors that could influence a child’s behavior. Seeing that this disorder can not be determined from blood tests or x-rays, its often left up to the discretion of a health care provider’s judgment to diagnose a child. This judgment can often times be faulty and biased.
Often times people are quick to write off a child as having ADHD when they seem a little hard to handle. An article in Style Magazine submitted by CNN News Wire talked about a toddler who got dismissed from day care because he was reportedly “all over the place,” and just all in all difficult to deal with. More importantly it was noted that the daycare was not staffed or skilled enough to actively deal with him. However, doctors in most cases are not the ones quick to suggest one having the disorder. It’s those that spend most time with them, such as teachers or day care providers.
Seeing that it’s most commonly diagnosed by such figures, one has to wonder if these teachers or even the parents are trained well enough to be able to differentiate when a child is being difficult because they have a disorder or if placing the child on medication may be a cop out to compensate for their lack of skill in handling children who are seemingly more difficult.
The article continues to shed light on a different problem associated with the diagnosis of ADHD, over-medication. Often times it’s thought that medication would be the simple solution to treat children who show signs or hyperactivity or inattentiveness. Often times these children use about 4 or 5 different drugs at a time to calm them. Often times children get dependent on these drugs as they grow up. However there is no guarantee that these drugs will prevent children from acting out in the future. Misdiagnosis of ADHD could be prevented if educators and parents were thoroughly educated on properly identifying signs of ADHD as well as the risks of misdiagnosis and the long-term effects medication can cause.