New studies: Younger (immature) kids misdiagnosed with ADHD

Two new studies show that children who are the youngest in their grades are often misdiagnosed with ADHD when they are really just less mature than their peers.

A North Carolina State report found that kids born right before the school cutoff date were 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children born right after the cutoff date. The NC State study looked at kids 7 to 17.

The children who were born before the cutoff were able to start school and were the youngest in their class. The peers born after the cutoff were delayed a year and were the oldest in class and therefore more mature.

The Michigan State University study,  which looked just at kindergartners, found that 60 percent of the younger students in kindergarten were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD!

From ABC News.com:

“About 4.5 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the studies.”

“Michigan State University researchers found that as many as 1 million U.S. school kids may have been misdiagnosed with ADHD because they are the youngest and — therefore, typically most immature — students in class.”

“Misdiagnosing children can have long-lasting effects, says assistant professor of economics Todd Elder, author of the Michigan State study. In fifth and eighth grade, the youngest kids in a class were more than twice as likely to use Ritalin, a stimulant commonly prescribed for ADHD, compared with the oldest students, his study says.”

From the NC State press relase:

“The question we asked was whether children who are relatively young compared to their classroom peers were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD,” says Dr. Melinda Morrill, a research assistant professor of economics at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the study. “To answer the question, we looked at children born shortly before the kindergarten eligibility cutoff date and children born shortly after the cutoff date and compared the rates of ADHD diagnosis and treatment.”

The researchers figured that children born just a few days apart should have the same underlying risk of having ADHD. So finding a significant difference in diagnosis rates between children born only a few days apart is strong evidence of medically inappropriate diagnosis.

Morrill explains that the study shows that children born just after the kindergarten cutoff date were 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD than children born just before the cutoff date. “This indicates that there are children who are diagnosed (or not) because of something other than underlying biological or medical reasons.

“We believe that younger children may be mistakenly diagnosed as having ADHD, when in fact they are simply less mature,” Morrill says.

From ABC News.com:

“Many ADHD diagnoses may be driven by teachers’ perceptions of poor behavior among the youngest children in a kindergarten classroom,” Elder said.

“But these ’symptoms’ may merely reflect emotional or intellectual immaturity among the youngest students.”

( I just really liked those quotes!)

So what do you think of these two studies? Can you believe that 10 to 12 months would make that big of difference in maturity and diagnosis rates?

All our teacher friends out there, are you guys aware of spring vs fall birthdays? Do you take that into consideration as you’re evaluating behavior and ability? Have you ever heard people suggest lets give a year to mature and see what happens?

Do you think your child has been misdiagnosed or there has been a rush to judgment on your child?

104 comments Add your comment

CDD

August 17th, 2010
6:51 pm

First? Wow! Well, on the topic… my son’s teacher in Kindergarten asked me to pull him out & put him back in Pre-K – on the 2nd day of school that year & when he’d already completed Pre-K with no problems whatsoever. I talked to his teachers from that class & they said they’d be glad to talk to his K teacher. They suspected since he was a little emotionally less mature that he didn’t fit in their cookie-cutter class. His K teachers & I butted heads that year a lot. They didn’t mention an ADHD possibility, probably because it just wasn’t diagnosed as often in the area we lived in or else they probably would have.

He had a teacher in 4th grade that did suggest he had ADHD – the 2nd week of school. After pulling him out & beginning homeschooling I took him to his pediatrician to see what was going on with him since there were other issues going on. Turns out he has Asperger’s. ADHD has become a catch-all for so many different things that might be going on, even emotional issues stemming from the home environment. Teachers should leave the medical diagnosis to the doctors, or at least get to really know a child before putting their 2 cents in about what they think is going on.

CDD

August 17th, 2010
6:52 pm

Oh, sorry. Relevant to this is that his birthday is at the end of August (have to find out what cake he wants soon!) so he’s always been the youngest in the grade when he went to public.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 17th, 2010
7:12 pm

Walsh is May and definitely was less mature than his peers in K and first. We didn’t want to hold him back at 4 because he would have worse bored by curriculum he was ahead of. Knock on wood, so far so good this year. He seems to have matured this summer — friends who hadn’t seen him in a while really noticed the difference – hard for mom to notice — and so far (please dear God let it continue) no behavior issues at all.

atlanta mom

August 17th, 2010
8:21 pm

This is pretty scary stuff.
If I had to make a wager, it would be that most of those diagnosed were boys.
We need to learn how to teach boys. The public school system is clearly geared towards how girls learn. And this is from the mother of three girls.

mom2alex&max

August 17th, 2010
9:06 pm

This is one of the many, many, many reasons I decided to hold back my July birthday son. I never regretted it.

mom2alex&max

August 17th, 2010
9:08 pm

And atlanta mom: You are SO right about that. Today’s schools cannot deal with active boys. To me, it’s damn impossible to expect a healthy, active, 7 year old to sit still for hours at a time.

I love my son’s 2nd grade teacher: she has a “stretching” time. Around mid morning they stop working, do some calisthenics, eat a snack and take a bathroom break. Brilliant!

motherjanegoose

August 17th, 2010
9:09 pm

To me, any misdiagnosis is not a good thing!

I taught Kindergarten for years. I never presumed to know more than the Doctors when it came to anything medical. That being said, a Doctor would typically see your child …with you…in his/her office for maybe 20 minutes. Teachers are not gods but they do see more children interacting, in a group, than a Doctor ever would. Their antennae are looking for different things than a Doctor would be looking for in a check up.

I cannot recall ever suggesting that a student had ADD or ADHD. My typical ideas were, “it might be good if we could have someone else take a peak at your child and give us their thoughts.”

My kids were born in May ( girl) and June ( boy) . I never once heard that they were immature, from anyone who has ever worked with them. That being said, putting an August birthday in a class of children who will nearly be 1 year older in September can almost certainly cause some problems. Even very bright children can lag behind in social skills. Again, I am approaching this as a teacher who worked with LOTS of kids. I do not know all kids…neither do the Doctors.

There are ALWAYS exceptions! I once had a boy who had a December birthday.
He moved to Texas from Hawaii, where the cut off was much later. He was an absolute exception to the rule. He never called his Mother “Mom” but by her first name “Wendy”. That was over 25 years ago and I still remember it! He was quite an interesting child.

My husband and I are both September birthdays. We entered Kindergarten at age 4. He struggled constantly in school. I really never did. There is also the boy/ girl aspect and we started school a LONG time ago!

CDD, I love teachers and work with them all the time. Some preschool teachers do not have the same educational background that Kindergarten teachers have. The qualifications are not always equal. Your son’s Pre-K teachers may not have known what to look for or even be aware of the red flags ahead. It is unfortunate that your son already started school in Kindergarten and THEN you were told he was not ready. Perhaps you DID have highly qualified Preschool teachers and the Kinder teachers WERE dead wrong.

In my experience, there are very few parents who want to be told their child has any problems…myself included. Some parents can move forward and look for a solution while others are stalled in a problem they do not want to address.

Some parents also do not want the teacher’s 2 cents and that is fine. I ALWAYS did.

I would be curious to know catlady’s or Kathy’s thoughts as they have both spent time in Kinder!

Late b-day

August 17th, 2010
9:34 pm

I have to agree with the studies’ conclusions that many of these situations are due to immaturity rather than actual ADHD.

Our son has a late July birthday and started K “on time”. I really struggled with the decision of whether or not to have him start Kindergarten, but like T, I felt he would’ve been bored (and therefore probably a behavior problem) if we’d held off. It’s been a mixed bag. The K teacher(after roughly 2 weeks) hinted very strongly that he might have an attention problem; I didn’t see it, and still don’t feel that it’s an appropriate diagnosis for 90% of kids that young. I would volunteer at the school, and the rest of his classmates behaved as my son did. None of his other teachers since (he just started 3rd grade) have ever mentioned or hinted at any possible attention issues.

LongtimeEducator

August 17th, 2010
10:05 pm

I taught for 33 years but 25 of those were in third grade. I could usually pick out the youngest kids by the second day of school.

motherjanegoose

August 17th, 2010
10:15 pm

@ Longtime, I just mentioned the blog topic to my 65 plus year old retired friend. She told me the virtually same thing you said in your second sentence.

Good to have you!

Ole Guy

August 17th, 2010
10:26 pm

Just a thought from the peanut gallery: Could ascribing, to the kid, the initials ADHD simply be the formalization of what might be otherwise known as the behavior of a bratt? I realize that there are some with “hard wiring” anomalies within the control centers of the brain, however, from my simple observations, I believe these initials are all too often applied simply out of expediency.

I could be wrong, however, could it be possible that such large numbers of kids could all be afflicted? I don’t think so…no more than previous generations which did not have the “magic” of chemistry, in the form of behavior-controling medications.

Just a thought from the Old School, the School of Tough Love.

cc

August 17th, 2010
10:36 pm

I wish people would not hold their child back because they are a little young. There is a date in place and we should be made to use it. These students tilt the scales and make the younger children seem immature. I think that is why more of the younger children are labeled ADHD. The held back students should not be allowed to be in advanced classes b/c they should be in the next grade.

light

August 17th, 2010
10:53 pm

Let God will be done thru this blog http://lightoftheearth.blogspot.com/

itpdude

August 17th, 2010
10:59 pm

Not to say there aren’t legitimate cases of ADHD but these facts seem to suggest that not all diagnosed cases of ADHD are not legitimate cases of ADHD, particularly for the children who are the youngest in their grade.

Think about that for a moment: Being the younger part of a grade seems to make it more likely to cause that kid to be on drugs.

teach1

August 17th, 2010
11:14 pm

After 15 years of teaching 1st grade, I definetely can pick out the summer birthday students. The maturity may not be as obvious as they get older but when you have a 5 year old in the same class as a boy who turned 7, there is obvious differences and no I am not talking about students who have been retained. The average first grader turns 7 in first grade NOT 6. With our Aug start date, that means those summer babies are right onthat bubble. I have seen more and more “summer” birthday students lapped by students that are more mature because mom and dad decided to keep them home and give them one more year. It never hurts to give them that extra time at home.

Beck

August 17th, 2010
11:29 pm

Ole Guy –

I know what you mean but ADHD does not always manifest as bratty behavior. Comments like that do a disservice to children who are sometimes doing all they can just to hold it together and sit still.

And I say this as a teacher, not a parent.

DB

August 18th, 2010
12:33 am

Amen on CDD’s comment that teachers shouldn’t be going around diagnosing ADHD out of hand. BOTH of my kids, in first grade, were suggested to have ADHD. The first time, we were taken aback, and after a flurry of testing, if not for the serendipitious encounter with an alert occupational therapist, we would have never discovered that my son was actually working against a case of sensory defensiveness, not ADHD. The second time, the reading teacher told me that my daughter was “probably ADHD” because she tended to “dream” during reading (duh, she read two levels above where she was placed), and that she didn’t pay attention in class. As a result, she had been placed in a seat in the back of the classroom. As it turned out, we discovered a week later during her annual checkup that she had a temporary hearing loss of almost 80% due to an occult ear infection. So what the reading teacher diagnosed as “dreamy” and “ADHD” was actually a temporary hearing impairment – and she wondered why my daughter wasn’t “paying attention.” She couldn’t hear her!

To say that I am less than enthralled with the ability of teachers to accurate diagnose ADHD is a mild understatement . . .

Personally, I think the NC State study is on to something — especially when you compare a summer birthday to a kid who is almost two years older and was kept back a year.

Educadd

August 18th, 2010
12:34 am

This study and the conversation it seems to promote does a disservice to children who have this disability….many need support throughout their lives and are at great risk for educational failure. I get the point of the study…maybe in K bouncy boys are overdiagnosed – but does the study address the children who do not outgrow their symptoms? It would be a much more provocative study if it there was follow up of the children diagnosed that did not outgrow these symptoms. Immaturity in K is one thing, but ADHD is a chronic developmental disability that affects all areas of functioning. Some points of reference: A child with ADHD who is held back will still struggle with behavioral learning challenges such as impulsivity, inattentiveness, distractibility, and hyperactivity as he progresses through each grade. Children with ADHD are 2-3 years behind their peers developmentally throughout school. Most never “catch up” no matter what. A 10 year old child with ADHD is developmentally more like a typically developing 7 year old. The average age of an ADHD diagnosis is really 8 years old, not 5 or 6. Also – Many children with ADHD are actually held back yet still struggle compared to their classmates who are now younger once this happens. I could go on and on…the ADHD knowledge landscape is so much more massive and complex than this study or this issue. btw – I am an Educator that specializes in ADHD students as well as a parent of child with real ADHD.

Bev

August 18th, 2010
12:35 am

First of all, teachers aren’t psychologists nor psychiatrists; therefore, they don’t have the authority to diagnose anyone with anything! Instead of parents medicating their kids, maybe they should medicate themselves instead. Kids will be kids! This includes all the high energy and playfulness that comes hand-in-hand with being a kid.

In my opinion, our society needs to work on being more family friendly when it comes to small children. We could definitely learn a lesson from European society where overall they exhibit a more laid back lifestyle. Gotta love the kids! They bring great energy into our world and thus make us feel a bit younger!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 18th, 2010
12:59 am

Educadd — I don’t think the studies are suggesting that ADHD is not real, real, real for many students and has nothing to do with immaturity for the ones that truly have it. It’s not maturity, it’s processing speeds and chemicals and all kinds of real things. I think all these studies are trying to point out is that a lot of younger students are getting misdiagnosed because some signs of immaturity can be similar to signs of ADHD. The studies want schools to give kids a chance to mature and see how things play out before they slap a label on them and drug them. Lots and lots of kids truly, truly have ADHD and need help. But bunches just need to mature and instead they get screwed by an impatient system that won’t allow them to develop t their own speed.

A.M.T.

August 18th, 2010
2:16 am

Thinking that the doctor knew my sons best interests and knew exactly what he was diagnosing him with I reluctantly listened to the doctor and put my son on medication for ADHD. We are now on his 5th medication because of all the side effects and tiks my son developed after being put on medication, watching these tiks just breaks my heart. I was against meds from the beginning but after listening to his teachers and when he started to struggle (alot) in school and was falling behind I thought that maybe he needed the meds to focus, but so far none have really worked and he is still behind. I came upon this sight when searching for the actual diagnosis of ADHD and after reading all these blogs I am realizing that maybe he doesn’t have it at all and maybe it is a maturity factor, his birthday is August 27th and his Pre-K teacher told me he was ready for Kindergarten as soon as he turned 5 so we enrolled him.It scares me to think that I have been giving my son a controlled substence that maybe he never really needed. Does anyone know where I can find additonal testing to see if this is what my son really has? And CDD did homeschooling help your son at all?

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Jeff

August 18th, 2010
5:32 am

Why is it almost all boys that get medicated? And most of our teachers are women.

bob

August 18th, 2010
5:56 am

I agree with this study, especially the “young” boy. Our early education is geared more to teach girls and not boys. Beside the fact that we have virtually taken out Physical Education in schools (when physical activity has proven to increase brain activity) and ask out young children to sit all day. Now onto another touchy topic…all of the chemicals that are going into our children from massess doses of vacciantions, to pesticides and geneically modified foods. Most parents need to take a lesson in nutrition and extremely limit the amount of sugar that goes into these young developing brains. Our children today are nutrient deficient because of the ease at which we can feed them though a drive through or out of a box. Watch what you put into their bodies from birth on and you will see a big difference. I’m not saying that there aren’t some children with real problems, but most if not all would be different if you closely pay attention to what goes into their bodies. (I’m sure I’ll get slammed for this comment.)

shaggy

August 18th, 2010
6:32 am

ADHD and its older brother ADD, are fraudulent, mass hysteria non-ailments. They are very handy for the psycho-babbler therapists, who want a high paying, easy job, and the drug makers, who want, well..money, easy money. Do you know that if you prescribe your kid with this trash, they will never be able to be in many leadership-qualities-necessary positions. Banned from the military. Banned from FBI, CIA, and all of the other cool clandestine organizations. They can never be Jack Bauer. So, if you are a coward, and don’t want your kid to ever serve their country, by all means, poke some pills down their throat for a while. They will love you for it.
Actually, in my time, kids had a different “medication”. It was administered on the bottom of the child, with the hand or a switch, and had had an almost instant effect of making the “medicated” child behave. That treatment was consistently applied in conjunction with a seemingly, long-forgotten concept called “Discipline”, usually existing alongside another really foreign concept called “boundaries”. I just don’t know how me and my friends grew into responsible adults, without the required therapist and their little pills. it was a wilderness then.
Sadly, as it turned out, my parents were not my friends. They were my parents. We kids were, most of which were (and still are)friends, were constantly plotting, and literally at war with these parent things.

Deb

August 18th, 2010
6:55 am

A.M.T. hang in there. I have a son now 9 dx with ADHD and is a June bday. In K I asked the teacher if she observes and thinks my son needed to be held back that I was not opposed to it. She said he is intelligent enough but cannot sit still and focus. She did not think it was a good idea to hold him back. I wish I did. Looking back now I think it would have helped. Last Dec. he was dx with ADHD. We have not used any meds and it is still a nightmare trying to get him to do his homework nightly. I just spent 3 hours looking for new ways to make homework more fun. In the meantime I have him exercising a lot, no caffeine or sweets, 10 hours of sleep, B 12 and fish oil and a lot of praying. He also has a tutor who said yesterday it took 45 min to bribe him to do 10 math problems. Even with all this stress he still maintained a B and 3 C’s last year in school. I have to accept that or either put him on meds which is not an option for us… my husband is a physician who does not believe in putting young kids on these meds. He could just grow out of it. Exercise is a major key and has helped. I believe this research to be accurate.

Bill

August 18th, 2010
7:24 am

I have a son, now a high school senior, who was diagnosed in 4th grade with mild ADHD, as well as other learning disabilities. In the sixth grade, after trying lots of other approaches, we have him the option of trying medication. He said he wanted to try it. On the first day, we saw a difference. He said, “my brain is quiet; I can hear myself think.” I agree that ADHD is probably over-diagnosed. That does not mean that it doesn’t exist. In previous generations, these kids were given different diagnoses: class clown or juvenile delinquent.

ADHD, and Asbegers are points on the autism spectrum.

Virginia

August 18th, 2010
7:25 am

@ A.M.T., I may be over simplifying this but, as I understand it, most medications for ADHD are stimulants. Stimulants act in an opposite direction when administered to people with authentic ADHD.

@ Jeff, throughout the medical and psychological world there are certain groups that have a higher incidence of one malady or another. Case in point: Boys also have have a greater incidence of autism spectrum disorders.

Jennifer

August 18th, 2010
7:28 am

Some children have behavioral issues due to maturity, age, lack of discipline, or problems at home but there are SOME children with real neurological disorders. It may manifest itself in withdrawn behavior or hyper behavior – it depends on the child. I like what Brain Balance has to say about the issue – http://www.brainbalancecenters.com . Strengthening brain communication through education, exercises, occupational therapy, etc. can make a big difference without drugs. I understand the difficult job that teachers have with 20 or more students who learn differently and at different levels. Never-the-less, it’s not as “easy” as every child with behavior or attention problems having ADHD. Some have sensory issues, etc.

Virginia

August 18th, 2010
7:29 am

@ AMT, Sorry I accidently deleated my point. A student inccorrectly diagnosed with ADHD would most likely be more hyped up by a stimulant medication.

deidre_NC

August 18th, 2010
7:42 am

i have thought for years that kids are diagnosed with adhd..when all they need is an outlet for their natural energy….

Wayne

August 18th, 2010
7:44 am

@Bill: my son said the same thing. He was having trouble in school, couldn’t hold a conversation with you and a myriad of other things. We made the rounds of different doctors (and a psychiatrist) and finally thought, let’s give it a try. We also talked to my son about it and he wanted to try it as well. The very first day – wow – what a difference. He was pleasant to be around. He spent the day painting; really good pictures too. Talked to him about it. He said he could ’see’ the picture in his head and because of that, he could paint it. He couldn’t do that before.

It’s interesting because we chose a low dose and know that it lasts about 4 hours. We can tell when it’s wearing off.

This topic has been on before and the comment was made ‘walk in my shoes, before you judge’ and I still agree with it.

motherjanegoose

August 18th, 2010
7:49 am

@ Bill…thank you. I have seen lives that have been turned around with medication. Children and adults, who were miserable are now succeeding.

FYI…when I mentioned Doctor, I was referring to a Pediatrician.

@shaggy…some children have had the tar consistently beat out of them by frustrated parents….medication might have been a better alternative. Maybe it would be better to be a “coward” and give your child a life ( through medication) , instead of the &%$$ he/she is facing each day by not being able to process. There are adults who are productive members of society when the reverse could be true. They may not be leaders ( as you mentioned) but they own businesses, pay taxes and make a contribution.

I do not pretend to know the answers here. I have just seen the before and after lives, for years.

As with anything, each parent has to make their own INFORMED decision.

@ cc “I wish people would not hold their child back because they are a little young. ”

There are a lot of things I wish for our society but no one seems to be listening…:):

I wish people still had manners

I wish drivers would keep their music to themselves and not blast it ( with their windows wide open) at the intersection

I wish people with 20 items in their shopping cart would not head to the 10 items or less line

I wish folks would not let their dogs and cat roam the neighborhood

I wish parents would remember that the kids they brought into the world are ultimately their own responsibility and while I love them, they are not mine

Dan

August 18th, 2010
7:57 am

Ya think????? we needed studies to tell us this???? You can take statistics 101 and understand it is misdiagnosed on a grand scale, hey docs don’t make money on kids that are not sick. Face it ADHD is diagnosed based on how the behavior differs from the norm and the numbers diagnosed far exceed what is statistically defined as outside the norm

Linda

August 18th, 2010
8:09 am

My 34 yr old son has a Sep birthday and was the oldest in his class and still struggled all the way through school. We lived in south GA at the time and he wasn’t diagnosed with ADD (what it was called then) until 4th grade and from then until he graduated from high school we traveled to Atlanta to specialists and spent a fortune on tutors. He was a bright child in the areas he was interested in and performed well for teachers who took an interest in him but he did not fit a mold and most teachers did not want to (or have the time to) go out of their way to find a way to teach to him. I was constantly and not always pleasantly involved at school. He did not do well in a college setting and we as parents really worried about his future. But maturity did come and he found a job that was not confining and allowed him to use his artistic abilities. He has turned out to be a fine stable adult and a wonderful father. What I am saying to all of you parents who are struggling is not to give up. Stay involved even if they don’t like you at school. Keep searching for answers and remember that it really doesn’t change overnight.

pws

August 18th, 2010
8:14 am

I also think that there is something to be said that teachers are trained to teach girls rather than boys. My youngest, who is now 21 and applying to medical school, was the exception to the rule, I actually had a third grade teacher tell me that if she had been a boy, they wouldn’t have thought her behavior was “different”. I also agree that the child should be evaluated by someone who is trained to do so, other than the teacher. We took her to see a child psychologist when she was in 4th grade, an independent one who was not connected to the school. He helped us by explaining why she behaved the way she did, and that she was not “different” or abnormal as her teacher had suggested. She just didn’t fit the mold of how teachers expected her to behave. I have a lot of respect for teachers, it takes a certain talent that I don’t posess to be able to be a great teacher. There were many teachers that I did not like, or agree with, but my kids never knew that. As far as my kids were concerned, the teacher was to be respected. My 21 year old today, however, will tell you that she only had about three teachers that she actually respected while she was in grades PK-12. She knew that that most of them thought she was “different”

irisheyes

August 18th, 2010
8:16 am

As a teacher, we are told it is illegal for us to diagnose a child with ADHD since it’s a medical diagnosis. I have told parents before that I see some of the characteristics of ADHD in their child, but I always follow it up with the sentence, “But only a doctor can make a diagnosis of ADHD, so if you are concerned, I would call your ped.” And I CANNOT recommend medication. If we do that, then the school can be liable to pay for it.

I completely agree that schools these days aren’t designed for active kids. Unfortunately, it’s a symptom of our “testing is god” mentality. Everything is based on how students do on the CRCT, so every minute of the day much be learning focused. I try to give my kids breaks during the day, but if an administrator comes in, and we’re not “actively engaged in learning”, I can get in trouble.

LongtimeEducator

August 18th, 2010
8:31 am

Any teacher who has attended ANY school trainings within the last 15-20 years knows to NOT say to a parent “I think your child may have ADHD!” I gave my students extra restroom breaks, permission to “stand at your desk if it helps you work”, and very brief “dance to the music” breaks…I understood kids needed extra movement time. True students with ADHD cannot control their behaviors! Their little minds race from one thing to the next, who got up to sharpen their pencil, who went over to ask the teacher something, what’s that noise out the window, etc. (you get the picture) I agree that often students are misdiagnosed, but it’s not by the teacher. Teachers CAN’T diagnose and it’s not an easy blood test with results that the doctor can interpret. It’s observed behaviors over a period of time by the teacher and the parent, and a full work up is done by a psychologist, including one on one testing to determine if there’s a learning disability. I was in the classroom for 33 years and as I saw the number of kids with these symptoms increase each year, I had to wonder if computer games and excessive amounts of TV was creating this attention problem.

RJ

August 18th, 2010
8:34 am

@Shaggy stated, “Actually, in my time, kids had a different “medication”. It was administered on the bottom of the child, with the hand or a switch, and had had an almost instant effect of making the “medicated” child behave.”

Let me be the first to tell you that that form of discipline doesn’t work. Children with ADHD have impulsivity issues, the behavior won’t end because they were spanked. I am blessed to have a wonderfully gifted child that has ADHD. For several years we had meeting after meeting with his teachers, some dealt with the hyperactivity, some didn’t know how. He had become labeled by some as just a behavior problem. They felt that if he was a straight A student in the gifted program, then he should know how to act. Eventually, after giving spankings and taking away privileges we decided to see the pediatrician because nothing was working. After describing his behavior we were referred to a child psychiatrist. Yep…ADHD. Actually it wasn’t that surprising because my husband displays many of the same behaviors! He admits that he often got into trouble for the same things, however in our day you were labeled as “bad”. Today we know better. It’s been quite a ride dealing with the highs and lows that come with ADHD. We’ve done meds, but due to the side effects we’ve decided to just go with therapy. If we see a decline in grades and behavior issues again we’ll consider different meds. I’m no fan of medication.

Teachers should never attempt to make a medical diagnosis of a child. Most teachers don’t really understand what ADHD is, so how could they/we possibly make a diagnosis? My child was treated like an anomaly, however all that I’ve read and been told by professionals states that many kids that are bright have ADHD. Teachers just are not educated in this area, unless they teach Special Education.

@Wayne

“…‘walk in my shoes, before you judge’.”

I agree 100%.

RJ

August 18th, 2010
8:38 am

@Linda thank you for your post. I often wonder what the future will hold but I continue to fight for my child. I am happy to hear about your son.

Michelle

August 18th, 2010
8:41 am

Yes, Yes, finally someone else has discovered what I have been saying for years! I have 2 kids, both born at the end of November. Both the youngest in the class, both held under a microscope and criticized daily. My daughter has been put through numerous testing over the years, was placed in special education, teachers suggested ADHD medication for her in 2nd grade to help her “focus”, and pay attention. She doesn’t have hyperactivity, but she was “more inattentive”. Now she is going into 5th grade, I opted for no meds, and she is getting straight A’s, and is really flourishing. They now want to declassify her because “she doesn’t need the services anymore”. She was just young…I hate to say I told you so to them..but “I TOLD YOU SO”… Now, I am going through the same thing with my 7 year old son. They send these weekly reports home to the parents. Everyday he’s easily distracted….and fidgets. He’s 7 years old!!!! What are they teaching these teachers? It is really common sense. If you are a year or more younger than the other kids…you are going to be more immature. Thank you for allowing me these words. : )

motherjanegoose

August 18th, 2010
8:55 am

@Longtime Educator…you need to join catlady and myself for lunch :). I think this is her first week of school, so she is quite busy but I am sure we will discuss this when I see her!

@ irisheyes…to me, any credible classroom teacher would never give a parent an ADHD diagnosis. This is not what we are trained to do. We can relay behavioral episodes/expectations and state them as information to be used by those who ARE trained to diagnose.

To me…anyone who thinks a blanket whipping would solve the problems of all children who have these tendencies needs to get rid of their cell phone and go back to using the kitchen wall phone with the 12 foot cord. Go live in the 1970’s. We have other information to utilize in 2010. Both with medications and lifestyle choices.

@ RJ…you are so lucky your pediatrician referred you to a psychiatrist. Being a good parent takes a lot of work and you sound like you are in for the ride!

@ Wayne…good luck with your son too. We loved our trip to Boston. Did you see we ate at Giovanni’s? YUM

LongtimeEducator

August 18th, 2010
9:02 am

@MJG…thanks to the Cobb County RIFs, I do have a lot of time on my hands these days! You have no idea how much I miss working with my little groups of kids with reading problems!! I truly miss the kids, but not the excessive NCLB/data walls paperwork!

Denise

August 18th, 2010
9:02 am

I can relate to this. We moved to another county a few days before my son started 1st grade. My son turned 6 in June but when he started school, he was shocked to find that many of the students were already 7. By Spring, 1/2 the class was already 8. My son was the youngest in the class. That year was an absolute nightmare.

motherjanegoose

August 18th, 2010
9:07 am

@ Michelle, thanks for joining us! I am thinking you are not the same Michelle who has been posting on this blog for a while, as I met her for lunch and I do not think she has a daughter and she lives in GA. You might want to add another letter to your name, for clarity.

MICHELLE if this IS you, I apologize! I did not recall you having a daughter.

Back to the point, are you saying that your child went to school at age 4 and turned 5 in NOVEMBER in Kindergarten? I do know that some states still have later cut offs. Not sure how current this list is:

http://users.stargate.net/~cokids/kindergarten_cut-off_dates.htm

LongtimeEducator….your thoughts please on the cut off dates? FYI…I did love your last few lines of your 8:31 post. Some parents blame the teachers for not being able to deal with their kids but they park them in front of electronics for hours on end…to get them out of their hair.

I did sometimes say this at conferences;

Here are my thoughts on your child and my recommendations. He is ultimately your child. I will have him for one school year. You will have him the rest of his life. YOU need to make a choice about what you want to do. I can make suggestions but the rest of his life is up to you.

Lori

August 18th, 2010
9:07 am

I think we are way to dependent on medications in general these days. A child can’t sit still for a long period of time so automatically we want to dope him/her with meds. I’m sure there are some children out there who really need medication, don’t get me wrong, but in general I think society pushes meds on a lot of people who could better benefit from other things. Meds are easier than having to spend extra time with someone.

RJ

August 18th, 2010
9:14 am

@Longtime Educator, you are so right about their behaviors. My child would get up and walk around the classroom for no reason, without permission, always moving about, unable to focus on anything for long, severely unorganized. I once asked his teacher how in the world was he making A’s if he was doing all of these things. I will never forget her response. She said, “I have no idea. When I’m teaching he’s hanging from the desk!”. Somehow he was getting what he needed. Perhaps it was because he was getting so much help at home. I can’t explain any of it. I just know that ADHD is very real. I will say that he has a summer birthday. But it took several years for his diagnosis to be given.

a mom

August 18th, 2010
9:15 am

I guess that I would rather a teacher suggest to me that I talk to the ped Dr than just “chalk it up” to immaturity. Also, I would suggest the book, “Why Boys Fail”. There is such a difference between how girls learn and how boys learn. Our public schools tend to teach to girls and the boys lag behind and can never quite catch up.

I have the experience of a now sophomore in high school, who has a January birthday, but was always really active but didn’t catch on as early as others. From talking, walking, to pre-K learning his address, to elementary school and reading, he was always behind. It was his second grade teacher who suggested we talk to his pediatrican. He has auditory and processing problems (consistent with dyslexia), and although he does not rank high enough on the scale for ADHD, has some symptoms.

Years later, we have him at a private school, one that appreciates that students have learning diversities. He is a strong kinetic learner and although it is a struggle every day, he is in all traditional classes with very few accomodations. Without that teacher making the suggestion to talk to the pediatrican we may have gone on longer wondering why he couldn’t read, sit still, etc.

YUKI

August 18th, 2010
9:19 am

My son is not in school yet, so it’s hard for me to really relate to a lot of what is being said here. I entered K at 4 and a half, I have a late December birthday and the cut off was Jan 1 back then. A few days after I turned 5, kids were starting to turn 6. I never had any behavioral issues or was ever told I was immature (maybe they just didn’t tell me?). I think it’s really scary to read these posts because growing up I just don’t remember all of these issues, there were a few kids in the class who misbehaved and I guess were considered “bad”, maybe they actually had ADHD or ADD and they just didn’t diagnose it back then. My son is Feb. so I shouldn’t have to worry about the age thing, but it seems to me so many more kids have “issues” then they did back then…makes you wonder if some of it is just overdiagnosed….but I also agree with “walk in my shoes before you judge” as well. Everyone has their own story.