DOCTOR IS IN: ADHD over-diagnosed?

By Thomas G. Burns, Psy.D., ABPP

First, consider these startling facts about the Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The rates of diagnosis for ADHD – previously known as ADD – have been on the rise over the past few decades. Research shows a 700 percent increase in medication being used to treat ADHD in the 1990s alone. A 2005 report by the CDC found 4.4 million children aged 4 to 17 years were reported to have a history of ADHD diagnosis.

Of these, 2.5 million (56 percent) were reported to be taking medication for the disorder. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, and the rate of incidence is almost twice as common in Caucasian children when compared with their African-American peers.

While the country seems to have a tendency for over-prescription, ADHD does not appear to be over-diagnosed in the U.S. as a whole.

There are three types of ADHD:

  1. predominantly inattentive type
  2. predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type
  3. a combination of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity

So what does this mean for you and your child?

In order to diagnose ADHD, a child must have symptoms of inattention or impulsivity before the age of seven across a variety of settings (e.g., school, home, extracurricular events). While it is important to understand the symptoms that make up ADHD, it is even more important to rule out features that are not ADHD – such as learning problems, medical conditions, emotional and behavioral issues (e.g., anxiety, depression) or adjustment concerns. Other factors that should be assessed include a change to a new school, or possible changes in the family (i.e., divorces, death). Kids are often diagnosed with ADHD when, in fact, their attention problems are symptoms of some other problem or the reason for their hyperactivity may be explained by other sources.

The American Psychiatric Association offers specific diagnostic criteria for ADHD. If a doctor’s thorough evaluation confirms ADHD, parents should be aware of available treatment options, to include both behavior therapy as well as medication. For example, treatment with medication should be avoided completely before the age of six, and symptoms of ADHD should be treated with behavior therapy according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It has also been clearly documented that medication is successful and, at least in the short-term, more successful than therapy. That is presently a debate among scientists that continues to be discussed as it relates to treatment options.

The medications being prescribed to treat ADHD have been used for more than 50 years and have shown a good track record for safety. According to CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD), a mixture of education, behavior management, medication and appropriate support are the most effective forms of treatment for children and adolescents with ADHD. The CDC supports the National Resource Center on ADHD, a program of CHADD, which offers evidence-based information about ADHD to the public.

The bottom line is, attention is a very sensitive symptom that can occur in just about every type of disorder. Problems with attention can be caused by a variety of factors. Ruling out contributing factors to inattention or hyperactivity will help to make the accurate diagnosis and guide the most effective treatment. Medication is a safe treatment option when used appropriately and taken at home under the supervision of an adult. It can be treated effectively.

Do you think ADHD is over-diagnosed? Atlanta, share your thoughts.

  • Thomas G. Burns, Psy.D., ABPP is irector of Neuropsychology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. More resources for parents can be found here.
  • Information provided by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on this site is intended solely for general educational purposes and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health provider for questions you may have regarding your health and medical condition. If you rely on information available through this website, you do so at your own risk. You are solely responsible for any damage or loss you may incur that results from your use of or reliance on any material or information provided by Children’s through this website.

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[...] DOCTOR IS IN: ADHD over-diagnosed? | Better Health By Fran Jeffries By Thomas G. Burns, Psy.D., ABPP First, consider these startling facts about the Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The rates of diagnosis for. Better Health – http://blogs.ajc.com/better-health/ [...]

Bill

March 18th, 2009
10:48 am

A made up illness for parents who won’t and teachers who can’t.

Tralee

March 18th, 2009
10:54 am

BIll- that is a very ignorant statement. I for one want to learn as much as I can, look for any possible treatment besides medication. I have a nephew that has this condition, I see what it does-

Me

March 18th, 2009
11:01 am

Take two lashings and call me in the morning. It’s bureaucratic nonesense, doctors, drug makers and insurance carriers are all out to make money. As much as we really want to believe that our moral/values system in in tact we are so far from that!! Tralee your nephew needs an a$$ whipping!

Cranberry

March 18th, 2009
11:04 am

No doubt ignorance would keep Bill from successfully raising a child who actually has this condition. It is obvious that God has not granted him one, or he would never have posted this comment!

Mama Cass

March 18th, 2009
11:06 am

I strongly recommend reading the book “Scattered” by Gabor Mate, MD. The doctor himself has ADD, was only diagnosed a few years ago, and used his medical training and knowledge of the scientific literature to investigate the potential causes of impairment. It’s the best book on ADD I have ever read, and as an adult with this condition, I have read a lot. Mate also talks about how parents can re-frame their relationship with their ADD child so that the dynamics are less confrontational and “get this done now!” and more about reassuring the child that they will be loved no matter what their performance is, so that the child feels secure in the parent’s love. It’s a very thoughtful, insightful piece of work. “Scattered: How ADD Originates and What You Can Do about It”, Gabor Mate M.D., 2000

Me

March 18th, 2009
11:09 am

We are all making these statements but has anyone ever looked at the efficacy rate or meds vs. the placebo effect? I willing to put my drug rep job on the line and say you will be blown away by the results!

ManOfTeal

March 18th, 2009
11:24 am

I will say this as I was diagnosed with ADD in second grade, I am now 31 years old. Without medication I never would have made it through school….or college for that matter. I do not have the behavior problems commonly associated with this condition I really only have the attention problems….but I know for a fact that it is much more difficult for me to concentrate and stay on task without any kind of medication than it is when I am on a medication.

bigEdoggy

March 18th, 2009
11:27 am

This is nothing more than an attempt to drug our children into submission because all the touchy-feelies have systematically removed any sort of order or discipline in the school. Teachers no longer have any powers to enforce rules so what better way to get the children to behave then to drug them. Nowadays a child could be stabbing their classmate and all the parent will say is something asinine like, “Oh look…my little Johnnie is expressing himself.” Parents who take this “head in the sand” approach to parenting should not be allowed to contribute to the gene pool ever again.

QueDogTeaching

March 18th, 2009
11:32 am

ADHD is over reported at very high rates in school systems. I don’t think it is to sell meds, I think it is because parents lack the ability, or wherewithal to discipline their children. I have students in my class who are very intelligent, who know right from wrong, and still get away with extreme amounts of disobedience because of one mis-diagnosis they had in kindergarten. I have students on BIP’s (Behavior Intervention Plans) because of this Mis-diagnosis. The fact is that all these students really need, is just one parent in the household who is not afraid to discipline their child.

I have had a true ADHD student in my class, and with out his medication it was very sad. He honestly could not stop, and you could see on his face that he wanted to. So to see him, and then see an undisciplined child, with the same diagnosis, it was disheartening.

Gary

March 18th, 2009
11:33 am

I had a step granddaughter before that was supposedly diagnosed with this. Ya know what’s really amazing, when you take the time to sit down with the child and help her with homework from school etc. Amazingly it gets done and it didn’t take hours, and she wasn’t trying to get up and run around the room or do 20 other things at once. It was easy, you just need to have patience and the time to spend with her. I think this is a partially convoluted “disease” for parents that don’t want to have to put any effort into taking care of their kids. I know, I have an ex daughter in law that’s like that and ya know her own kids recognize that and they do get resentful, restless, angry that Mommy doesn’t spend alot of time with them. Not to mention that children need ways to expend their energy besides sitting in front of a game console for hours or TV. My sister was given custody of our 2 great nieces 3 years ago. They were terribly misbehaved, one of them diagnosed with ADD, no manners, rude I could go on. Long story short, she literally makes them go outside when the weather permits and makes them to play and do activities outside. Not just sit in the house and do nothing. She has worked with them on their homework to the pint of printing off school work worksheets and having them do them at home. Well guess what 3 years later, the teachers can’t believe it’s the same kids, one of them is on the Honor roll with a 3.5 GPA the other is right behind her. No ADD Medication or anything else other then good old fashioned time patience and understanding and discipline! So please don’t tell me this is always the case with every child diagnosed with it because I’ll tell you you’re full of it!

Dan

March 18th, 2009
11:36 am

Its a mathamatical certainty that ADHD is over diagnosed. This is a “condition” that is only diagnosed based on a behavioral comparison to what is considered “normal”. Using standard deviation methodology items within 2 std dev or 95% of the population (are generally considered “normal” the outliers being the remaining 5% (2.5% on either side)The last census says there are 53.2M children between 4-17 yrs, the 4.4M diagnosis represents 8.3% of that population! assuming ADHD is on one side of the distributuion curve, statistically speaking there should be no more than 2.5% of the population diagnosed as outside the normal range not 8.3% Now I realize stats don’t answer everything and real people are involved, but stats also don’t lie and it is a very strong argument that at least half if not more are misdiagnosed. They are probably at one end of the “normal” range. If 8% of individuals really do display these similar characteristics, then quite frankly it is “normal” and nothing to be treated

Laura

March 18th, 2009
11:36 am

Bill- WOW.. as a teacher and a parent, I am just amazed at how ignorant some people can be!!

mom-2-ADHD

March 18th, 2009
11:44 am

to the comments that “Gary” made. Successful treatment of ADHD can be done outside of meds. “good old fashioned time patience and understanding and discipline” which is what you said worked, as well as playing outside, will, in fact, work. Dealing with ADHD , behavior therapy is very necessary, and a calm, structured environment is important. Medication should supplement this. THe problem is, that many parents lack the ability,understanding and time needed to let behavior modification work. In the meantime, many kids fall behind in school. The ideal situation is to work on behavior modification while using medication at the same time, with, in many cases, the end result being that the medication is not always necessary anymore.

So the child could still have ADHD, but congrats to your sister for having the patience to deal with it in a non medicated way!

Considering

March 18th, 2009
11:44 am

I have to think this is way over-diagnosed. Why hasn’t this been an issue until the last 20 years? How did people deal with it the previous 6000 years of human existence? Corrective methods that include threats, talking to’s, loving advice and yes, spankings. Kids were more polite and respectful. I have 4 very active children ages 3-8. They have done quite a few things that make great stories now but were diffult at the time. They know they are loved but when they start “acting like children” they know there will be consequences for bad behaviour. That doesn’t stop everything, of course, but they can sit still in church for 2 hours without making noise, so I know they can behave in school. However, there was a progression. At 8 months when they start squealing in delight at the discovery of their voice you can’t punish them, but by 18 months they have an idea of when to be quiet and at least understand “shhh” when they made noise. By age 2 they were thumped on the leg for too much noise and by 2.5 were taken back to “the bathroom” for crying or talking. Now my most difficult child the current 3 year old is quiet as a mouse except when she whispers “I have to go potty”. I have witnessed plenty of children at restaurants and playgrounds that their behaviour is out of control and their parents don’t correct them. I suspect they are eventually put on medication because if they act this way in front of parents they are probably worse at school without them.

CC

March 18th, 2009
11:48 am

It takes a parent to truly know if their child has ADHD. It is easy to say all the child needs is a spanking or some time spent with them and thier ADHD will go away. It is like any other medical diagnosis they have good days and bad bays. I do believe that children can learn to ways to cope without meds especially when they are older. Is ADHD overly diagnosed? Yes, I think it is but to argue that it does not exist is another topic.

Mama Cass

March 18th, 2009
11:48 am

Gary, that’s wonderful news that your nieces have gotten into a supportive, loving environment and have been able to turn things around without resorting to medication. They sound very lucky to have family members who care so much. Every child diagnosed with ADD deserves that kind of structured assistance; and for children who still don’t improve within a year or so, then perhaps medication might be indicated. Behavioral approaches should always be tried first – however these are much more labor-intensive and from what I have seen, many people would prefer to take the ‘easy’ way out and just pop some meds. Personally speaking, I went on medication only as an adult, in order to be able to work in an office environment (talk about distraction!). But my parents always stood very firm when I was a child and said they didn’t want me on medications (I suspect the only reason the teachers were okay with that is because I was a good student and didn’t require extra work on their part).

Jacqueline

March 18th, 2009
11:49 am

I do agree with Bill to a certain extent. I do think stimulant drugs are needed in some cases. As mentioned above there has been a 400% increase in drug usage over 50 years. Times have changed since then.Kids are more exposed to what is going on in the world and it does effect them. There are more divorces and more television watching on now then 50 years ago. There are more children that take stimulant drugs in public schools than private schools (if any kids take stimulant drugs in private schools). There is something wrong with the diagnosing method. There is no neurological evidence to support ADHD/ADD. There needs to be more studies and definitely more behavioral therapy for children.The process of elimination should be applied in the childs situation, it works.

Larry

March 18th, 2009
11:51 am

Beyond question, along with another excuse medication, antidepressants, one the most over prescribed and thus abusive medications. Ever wonder why other mammals don’t require these to function all over the planet?

Please take not of the author’s degree–psychology. This profession also consists of some the most bizarre and cerebrally challenged individuals on the planet at 95% of those who choose this course of study are in fact themselves kooks!

Of course there is the rare clinically correct diagnosis, but about 98% of the time it boils down to lazy, worthless parents who rely on the medication to do their job for them so their brat will be quiet and still as they watch soap operas and eat pizza and ice cream!

Mama Cass

March 18th, 2009
12:05 pm

To all the geniuses who are recommending beating a child as a method of behavior modification:

CHILD ABUSE CAUSES BRAIN DAMAGE

And that has been proven.

Abuse Leaves Its Mark on the Brain

(http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/223/1)

Larry

March 18th, 2009
12:16 pm

Mama,

No one’s suggesting a beating. It’s called discipline, obedience and structure. Ever heard of this as a proven alternative to drugs?

Let me guess, a liberal!

Gary

March 18th, 2009
12:18 pm

So Mama Cass are you saying that any physical discipline is “Child Abuse” ? Or just outright beating which I would agree that “Beating” would be abusive.

Donna

March 18th, 2009
12:22 pm

I have a son, 8, who has ADHD. He was uncontrollable in Kindergarten until he was tested for ADHD. He is in Gifted Program at school, 2nd Grade, now. This is NOT nonsense. You have NO ideas what it is like when your child is not on medicine the problems, behavior issues, etc. Without medication and therapy, my son would be lost. ADHD is a problem that usually exist in Highly intelligent individuals and genetic. Anyone who does not review information about ADHD and does not pay close attention to your child actions, behaviors at home, school, and everywhere else, I would be concern about your parenting skills etc.

Mel

March 18th, 2009
12:26 pm

I am 49 years old and I was diagnosed with a attention disorder 9 years ago. If I had the medication when I was younger, college might have been a choice. If you don’t have a problem or have a child with a problem, you have no clue what you are talking about..

Bill

March 18th, 2009
12:29 pm

Mama I would say to you that medicating a child into a desired behaviour is the real child abuse. Yes I do and have used physical discipline on my children but have never beat them. A beating is abuse and is different than physical discipline. The main problem I have with ADHD is that there is no “Test” to say you have it…it is a guess based upon observed behaviour and that there have been no long tetm studies on the long term impacts to the people who get teh meds. Besides show me a teen who goes on a rampage and I bet s/he is on some sort of med for ADHD or Depression. My original statement was meant to be over the top because there are always people who have learning issues but this whole ADHD is nonsense due to a lack of discipline and routine…

Mama Cass

March 18th, 2009
12:30 pm

Gary,

I am referring to outright beating, not briefly spanking a child.

Interestingly, similar patterns of brain damage have also been found in adults who were subjected to severe verbal abuse as children.

Ronnie

March 18th, 2009
12:37 pm

I am a mother of an ADHD daughter. I refused to medicate for YEARS. What those of you without a child with this condition fail to understand is that it goes way beyond getting homework done or cleaning their room. My daughter has the impulsive variety: she cut through a lamp cord while it was plugged in. When asked why she did it she said she didn’t know – with all sincerity. She’s set a stick of deorderant on fire. She’s flashed her schoolbus. And a ton of other things ‘normal’ children don’t do. And before you go attacking my parenting – exactly HOW would you stop a child from flashing their schoolbus? Staple their pants to their hips? I have done my best to raise her with love, values, and morals. This is not a ‘made up’ condition…

Ken

March 18th, 2009
12:40 pm

ADHD is a made up “illness”..Learn to discipline your children. Just another way for doctors to make a buck as well as medicine manufacturers.

Dan

March 18th, 2009
12:42 pm

Ronnie, I don’t have children but was raised in a household with 6 children (I am the oldest) and all children do things like you describe and worse. All of which is quite a normal part of learning and growing up. You never really believe the stove is hot until you find out for your self.

Chris

March 18th, 2009
12:45 pm

Dan
I agree with your sentiments, but not your analysis. Like most statistical arguments, it begins with the assumption of a normal distribution. We have no basis to assume that ADD follows the normal distribution. In fact, If ADD were not a medical condition, and was merely “outlying” behavior, it would be expected to have a normal distribution. However, if it is a medical condition there is no reason to expect a normal distribution. That would be like assuming a normal distribution of US households being hit by a hurricane, when it is clear that individual circumstances (coastal location, brain chemistry) dictate the probabilities rather than random chance.

Mary

March 18th, 2009
12:46 pm

Researchers have found genes associated with ADHD behaviors;it’s a real disorder. ADHD may be beneficial for hunter/gatherer hunters.
In a fascinating study done on homogenous tribesmen in Africa, half of whom had settled down and half of whom still lived as hunters, researchers found that those with the ADHD-associated genes did much better as hunters than those without these genes, but the reverse was true with the settled population. In the settled group, having ADHD-associated genes was a liability.
ADHD can be seen on brain scans. However, it also appears to be over-diagnosed. From what I’ve read, only about 10% of kids diagnosed with ADHD actually have it.
Overdiagnosis not only hurts the kids who are misdiagnosed but also those with the problem because their situations and needs are not taken seriously.

Diane

March 18th, 2009
12:49 pm

Those who are against medication or diagnosis, that’s fine, that’s your opinion. But to call people “liberal” (which is not a bad thing!) or to assume that teenagers who commit crimes are on ADHD medication is ignorant at best. It’s that mentality of “just spank ‘em” and they’ll behave that is detrimental to these kids who DO actually have the disorder. Everyday with my son is a challenge. You have NO IDEA what it is like. And unlike other kids with behavioral or developemental issues, we are treated like bad parents with unruly children. I teach 6th grade. I have many, many slow minded students. Let’s say I just beat ‘em, then they’ll learn. Lazy bums. They just have no discipline….

Some of you are so uninformed that you’re scary.

Diane

March 18th, 2009
12:52 pm

And Mary, you’re insightful research is too much for some of these posters. It probably reads like Sanskrit to them.

Greg

March 18th, 2009
12:52 pm

Amen Bill! I have a child that has been “diagnosed” with this bs. There is nothing wrong with him except he is a normal boy that sometimes does not pay attention and sometimes does stupid things. That’s what kids do, their kids. But my wife (a teacher) decided that he should see a doctor and told the doc she wanted him checked for adhd and what treatments she wanted. The doc told me he had been dealing with this stuff all years because the middle school had hired a new “Counselor” who was telling parents that their children were adhd every time they were in trouble for talking in class. It is a joke. Get the counselors out of the schools and the kids off the meds!! The real problem here is MBPS (Munchausen’s By Proxy Syndrome) and a bunch of “doctor wanna be” counselors trying to justify their salaries.

Larry

March 18th, 2009
12:59 pm

Mary,

Touche!

Daine,

Let me guess, you teach in a government school, correct? And “liberal” more often than not IS a bad thing! Who do you think relies on more on using medications and a parenting alternative, liberals or consertives?

sd

March 18th, 2009
1:07 pm

At the risk of being ridiculed, I believe that we are trying to fit square pegs in round holes. Some people just aren’t cut out for school. I’d rather my child be uneducated in academics and off of drugs, than on drugs and well educated. There will always be labor jobs where high levels of attention are not required. There is nothing wrong with labor jobs. When we decided that EVERYONE should go to college, we started looking for ways to make sure the hyper kids with no attention span could get there too. So we drugged them. In turn, they do graduate, but they are not themselves. Their true selves are wonderfully hyper people who can’t hold the attention to read a book, but they can hammer, and dig, and find happiness in the work of their hands.

ADHD MOM

March 18th, 2009
1:18 pm

Wow! I guess ignorance is bliss! My child was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago. We knew something was wrong and decided to see the pediatrician first. She recommended a child psychiatrist and we learned of his problem. It was never recommended that he receive medication, so that theory is gone for those of you that think that’s the issue. We were given a lot of support and provided a number of strategies to help him.

Yes, we spanked this child many times just as we did the others. It didn’t work. Today she still struggles, but without meds. It’s a hard job but I think it’s something that she has to deal with. She has a therapist and that’s been really helpful. It’s a real problem that has always existed. If you haven’t lived it, you have no idea.

ADHD MOM

March 18th, 2009
1:19 pm

Ooops! I first referred to my daugher as a “he”! She’s definitely a girl!!

Rik

March 18th, 2009
1:23 pm

Dr. Amen has done significant work using brain scans and has been able to demonstrate brain activity that is different in a child with ADHD and one without. He also has some interesting theories on why ADD is increasing in our population. These have mostly to do with genetics and the fact that women with ADD reproduce more often and at a younger age. There are always the ignorant that will believe this is just bad parenting. I have three kids – one with ADD and two without- I do not raise them differently and have not spared the rod. My son was on meds for several years and now manages without, as do I. Also, I wonder how much diabetes medications have increased over the same span. It makes sense that medication usage would increase as new meds are discovered.

Mark

March 18th, 2009
1:43 pm

I am a conservative and have an almost ten year old son who IS well-disciplined at home, but had attention and hyperactivity problems. ADHD medication has done wonders for him. Until you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of a parent with an ADHD child, don’t judge.

Bill

March 18th, 2009
3:16 pm

What were we talking about….

Dan

March 18th, 2009
3:43 pm

Chris first of all good discussion
But the question on the table is over diagnosis, not necessarily the existence of the condition. (although I realize that is also a hot issue)
You can count hurricanes and there is a definitive measure (xxmph winds)
you don’t simply compare two storms and say the stronger one is a hurricane, which is how a comparitive diagnosis would work
This is why I believe a normal distribution is appropriate (if over simplified), primarily because it is not definitive that it is a medical condition. It is a behavioral one, and medical or not (which is subjective), the method of diagnosis is 100% based on comparing the patients behavior to the “norm”. If the % of people diagnosed was 2 or 3 or even 4 maybe, but 8% clearly suggests some people whos behavior is within normal parameters are being diagnosed with an issue. Wheter it is poor Dr’s or lazy parents or both. Ronnies example is a great illustration of normal behavior being blamed on a condition. If you were at a PTA meeting and asked the group have any of your kids cut a lamp cord, set fire to something in the house, or shed cloths in public
you would have 95% of hands go up and the others would be lying LOL
Yet Ronnie thinks they are indications of a problem, I am not picking on Ronnie maybe her child does have a problem, but the examples she chose to use are clearly normal growing up behavior

Bill

March 18th, 2009
4:01 pm

I have a combo disorder….ASHDOCD…I forgot what I am compulsive about….

Greg

March 18th, 2009
5:52 pm

Exactly Dan. The problem lies in society’s attributing normal behaviors to a “Syndrome”, and then using hearsay interpretations of the behavior as a diagnosis.
This “disorder” is most often diagnosed and treated based on what the parent or teacher/counselor tells the physician. So if the parent thinks the child is adhd, then most likely the doctor will respond accordingly. My child was given meds based on what my wife told the doctor. He never saw one trait or tendency of adhd from my son directly, only what my wife described. My wife was convinced by one person in a school system that had seen my son a couple of times that he was adhd, then she talked to the doctor, now he is “diagnosed” adhd and on meds for little more than not paying attention in class. I have to laugh every time I go to his school and see the sigh out front that says “This school is a “Drug Free Zone.” Percentage wise, their counselors and teachers have now become far worse pushers than any of the street corner thugs ever were. What a joke.

John

March 18th, 2009
8:34 pm

Those who cant….teach
Those who cant teach…administrate
Those who cant administrate have tenure….

Ann

March 18th, 2009
9:35 pm

As a mother of 2 daughters and 2 step-daughters, who has had one of each diagnosed with ADHD (before my husband and I met), I KNOW that this condition is over diagnosed AND over medicated. My daughters were raised and disciplined the same yet at 15 months I told the doctors that there was something wrong with my second daughter. She was 14 when she was diagnosed! I still do not believe that ADHD is the problem! The medication has made a world of difference in her behaviour, when she takes it. I can sure tell, within half an hour of her waking up whether or not she has taken her medication. She will be 26 in a month and still has behavioural and mood problems. I have had a psychologist suggest that she is ADHD, but that it is the root of a more serious condition known as Bi-Polar disorder. This I believe. I truly believe that she is Bi-Polar, although she will not seek a positive diagnosis nor treatment for it as she feels this will label her a “freak”. I feel that if she were to seek treatment, whether it be medication or behavioural therapy, that people would see her for the person I know she can be as I have seen that side of her. As it is, most people do consider her a “freak”, or a “waste of space” and she does not realize this. She wastes her time with “friends” who are into drugs and get into trouble with the law. Both of which she has been involved in. In fact, she served 20 months in a prison in Trinidad for trying to transport cocaine back to Toronto. She believes these people are truly her friends, and cannot see that they are just using her (not one of her “friends” returned calls to Foreign Affairs although she was sure they would come to her rescue when she was in Trinidad because they told her they would). She is still “hanging” around with these type of people and has a 23 month old with another on the way. She denies that she has a problem and refuses to help herself, lying to counsellors and doctors about how she is doing.

On the other hand, my step-daughter who has been diagnosed with ADHD, to my belief, does not have the condition. Medication does nothing for her and she complains that it makes her feel ill, so she does not take it. She has had problems in school for years and that is why her father persued the possibility of her having ADHD. I discovered, some time after my husband and I met, that her mother is a huge part of the problem. When my husband would phone to ask why assignments hadn’t been handed in her mother’s reply would be “Well if she doesn’t want to do it, why should she?”. Their younger daughter doesn’t like coming over to our house because when she asked for a video game console for Christmas one year, I said no until she pulled up her grades at school. Her mother bought her one for Christmas and her grades and attendance dropped dramatically. I even had her teachers telling me that they could sure tell by her homework and school work, when she had been at our place or at her mother’s. Luckily, although it took a few years, she realized herself that my requiring her to do her homework was not such a bad thing. At one point, her father wanted her tested for ADHD and I disagreed that it was necessary. This is around the time that she started seeing for herself that her mother’s lack of discipline with her sister was a problem and began to discipline herself. She is now in high school with good grades and the discipline to do her school work without anybody having to tell her.

Again, I do believe that this condition exists and I also believe that it is over diagnosed and over medicated. I also believe that ADHD is an underlying condition for something more serious, or at least that ADHD is part in parcel with other problems. Most people diagnosed with ADHD either are diagnosed with other “behavioural” or “attentive” conditions later in life, or are just plain lazy and have not had the proper discipline to know how to discipline themselves.

BirdLady

March 19th, 2009
8:35 am

I do believe that ADD exsits. And I know that there are parents that are “too busy” to get a hold on their child but theter are teachers who are also pushing for the meds to be given to childern with “problems”. My son is just about deaf now. He has had hearing problems since birth. From pre-k till 2nd grade I had teachers telling me, in fact insisting that he was ADD. An yes he showed classic signs for ADD when in fact he was losing his hearing. I kept telling his teachers that he could not hear them properly but they kept at it until they had me convinced that he had ADD when he did not.

JP

March 19th, 2009
12:40 pm

I do believe that this condition exists. But, I also believe that about 90% of these are wrongly diagnosed. First of all, there are the drug reps, who recommend a particular medication to the doctor they are meeting with. Many times the drug reps with get some sort of compensation for pushing a certain drug. The doctors themselves don’t know that much about the drugs, they are just relying on the drug reps to tell them which one is best. Lots of times the doctors will also get some sort of compensation from the drug companies for prescribing a particular medication. It all comes down to greed. People just want to get paid and they don’t really care who they have to hurt to get their money. So, I believe it is overdiagnosed because the pharmaceutical companies are pushing it on the doctors and they are in turn pushing it on the patients. All about marketing…sell, sell, sell…it doesn’t matter if you don’t need it, take it anyways…

twoboys

March 19th, 2009
1:07 pm

As a former special education teacher in public schools, I definitely feel this condition is over-diagnosed. So many of my students who were labeled ADD/ADHD came from very chaotic homes. However, I also believe it is a real condition. I still think of one student with wonderful, supportive parents. It was truly painful to watch this poor child struggle to take in what was being instructed-you could see on his face and in his eyes how much he wanted to concentrate and participate in the classroom. As a mother of two preschool boys, I am very concerned about the 15-20 minutes of playground time in the public schools. I just do not feel that is enough physical activity for children, especially boys. I wonder how much lack of physical activity affects behavior in the classroom setting.

les

March 19th, 2009
2:55 pm

Why is everyone here trying to lump everyone into one category? The fact is, there is not a “one-size fits all” for these kids. Everyone is different, and that is why some things work for some kids and others don’t. That is also why this is so difficult to accurately diagnose. For some, medication may work well, but for others, the road may be longer, with a combo of intense meds and therapy, some kids may just need regular therapy and learn some behavior modification. So for everyone here to argue this as if it has to be a black or white solution, is just silly. Each parent needs to seek out and do the research themselves, and discover what is going to be the right method of treatment for their child, if in fact they are ADD/ADHD.
Just a side note, my cousin was diagnosed with ADHA, and when his mother took him off sweet cereals, snacks, etc and drastically changed his diet, he was able to go off his meds, and continue with regular behavior therapy, and is much more manageable and pleasant to be around.