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

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 18th, 2010
9:42 am

Amen Michelle!!! — send it to every teacher you know!!!! they should be aware as they are evaluating the children.

CDD

August 18th, 2010
9:49 am

What a beautiful day today!
@ MJG – I’m not trying to suggest that teachers are the bad guys here. I’ve known some really excellent ones & appreciate all they do. After reading a lot of your posts, I think you are probably one who would fall into that category. My point was that I don’t think any suggestion should be given about pulling a child out on day #2 of school, especially in K. Something else I hadn’t mentioned earlier was that I had talked to his K teacher during orientation that year that he was going through a lot of issues that year – my (ex now) husband & I had separated & we had moved because of that so he was going through a lot of adjustments at the time & he just doesn’t like change.

@ A.M.T. – YES! Homeschooling has helped tremendously for him, and for us as a family. It’s not for everyone & it’s lots of work. For him, he doesn’t have the distractions of a regular school around and our schedule is much more flexible. I do actually have him on medication during the school year to help with his concentration. He took Vyvanse (sp?) for about a month but that was too much & kinda changed his personality too, so now he takes Aderol (not the continued release) & only half a pill in the morning. As far as the side effects your son is experiencing, I would write all of them down along with your general observations of what it does for him (good & bad) and give that to your pediatrician. Maybe like a journal for a few days. That’s what I did with the Vyvanse & the pediatrician had a better idea of how to tweak his medicine. I’d be glad to exchange email about all this if you’d like. I don’t know how that works but I’m guessing you could email Theresa & she could send it to me (if you don’t mind being a go-between, Theresa!) :o)

@ Shaggy – Times do change & so do criteria for who qualifies for jobs. Don’t you think that when these children grow up, many of them will have had some diagnosis requiring medication? Didn’t the US military change its policy for pilots so they could have eye surgery like LASIK? I’d bet you that with a great deal of kids on meds right now in this generation will have a lot of company in whatever job they apply for.

Cammi317

August 18th, 2010
10:13 am

When my daughter was in 2nd grade, her school counselor “suggested” to me that I may want to get her put on some ADHD medication. She went on to tell me that she had custody of her 3 grand children and they were all on ADHD meds. RED FLAG! I smiled and told her that I would discuss it with her physician, and walked away. The reason this was “suggested” to me was because my daughter would finish her work quickly in class and then begin to talk or hum and sing. I know that this is distracting, but giving her a book or a puzzle would have alleviated the issue. She did not have ADHD, she was just bored to tears.

motherjanegoose

August 18th, 2010
10:53 am

@Cammi317 re: RED FLAG

ADHD and Your Family Tree

There’s a link between ADHD and family genetics

ADHD has the highest rate of inheritability of all behavioral conditions

76% of ADHD is due to genetics, so it tends to run in families

Many adults first realize they have ADHD when their child is diagnosed

If those 3 grandchildren are biologically related, they COULD all need meds or environmental changes. Kind of like having 3 grandchildren who all take allergy shots or medication for diabetes. How is this different?

I am not pushing for drugs but think they can be an option that works to enable some individuals to have a better life. Just like an inhaler for asthma or Prilosec for reflux. Others can simply have lifestyle changes and the outcome will be good too!

shaggy

August 18th, 2010
11:02 am

OK, I personally know of a young man that aspired to be a Navy Seal. He is a remarkably calm young man. Nerves of steele, so to speak. He is a fantastic climber that I have literally placed my life into his hands, without care, because I KNOW what he is about. Back to my story: He spent about 3 years working with Navy recruiters and building his physical strength into something phenomenal, while also concentrating on the mental aspects that he would need as one of our nations elite soldiers, committed to protecting America at all costs, even their own lives. He would do 1500 sit ups, after a brisk 5 mile double-time run. Yes, I want guys like him on America’s front line. Anyway, he gets his SEAL opportunity and was going to endure boot camp PLUS the rigourus SEAL selection/weeding out process. He was at the Great Lakes Navy training base doing it all, was his boot company leader, and singing in the choir too. Then he was overheard in small talk saying to one of his mates that his parents had put him on ADD crap in the 3rd grade. THE END! They did not just kick him out of SEAL program. They kicked him immediately out of the Navy…had him on the bus home the next day.
You have never seen such a deserving young man, with a high calling to serve his country, and the stuff to do it, completely destroyed, by YES, his parents stupidly listening to some moron therapist, when all that was needed was time to develop as a kid. You see, he was smarter than the kids around him and had more natural energy. His dumb parents ruined his dream before he even started, because they hysterically, latched onto the “he must must be sick, because I can’t (won’t) keep up with him” mentality.
So, go ahead feed little jimmy a few pills, so YOU don’ have to work harder being a parent, bacause Dr. Payingthedrugcompany says so.

1911A1

August 18th, 2010
11:02 am

I have a Sept. birthday, so I was already one of the youngest in my first grade class. The next year I was promoted from first to third grade. I felt like I had entered the Land of the Giants! I lasted two days before asking to go to second grade.

Linda

August 18th, 2010
11:14 am

re: motherjanegoose and @Cammi317 re: RED FLAG

You are so right about genetics. We realized that my husband was ADD after my son was diagnosed years ago. He was never treated but had trouble concentrating and completing tasks so it is no wonder we had a child with the disorder. I have heard the same from so many other families.

Your last paragraph says it all. Why wouldn’t someone want to do whatever it takes to make their child’s life better (medication or lifestyle changes). You would do it if they were a diabetic or had allergies. ADHD is real and if you don’t beleve it ask someone who has grown up ADHD.

Denise

August 18th, 2010
11:29 am

As some of you know, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 15 years ago at 22 years ago. I know we are not talking about bipolar disorder and I’m not trying to hijack the conversation but I want to give you some insight on my experience with living with a brain chemistry disorder. No one had to convince ME that I had an illness. I had a breakdown. However, I had to convince family and friends who were not around at the time of the breakdown (I was at college out of state). No one wanted to believe me because nothing should be “wrong” with me for a variety of reasons. My aunt reasoned that I had no reason to be depressed because I was pretty. Seriously. (I look just like her so clearly she couldn’t say that my looks caused me great pain! LOL) No one wanted me to accept the label that a DOCTOR gave me. No one wanted to acknowledge what I was telling them was happening to me, what behaviors I was exhibiting, what changes I was suffering with and through. It was horrible. God, even thinking about right now, it is painful.
Why do I say all this? Parents, PLEASE do not bury your heads in the sand just because you don’t LIKE what someone is saying about your child. Investigate it. It IS scary. It is not an indictment your parenting skills or how much you love and support your kids. It has nothing to do with you not wanting the best for your child. Go to a doctor that can give you a REAL diagnosis and can REALLY help you and your child deal with WHATEVER it is going on…even if the only thing your child needs is discipline and order. If you think this doctor is a quack, find another one that you feel you can trust (I hated my first psychiatrist and didn’t do anything he said to do because I hated him…didn’t work out that well for me as evidenced by breakdown #2). However, DON’T let untrained folks slap diagnoses on your kids because they don’t know what to do with them. I agree that active kids are often labeled as “trouble” and “something is wrong with him/her”. Medication saved my life and is making my live wonderful so don’t ignore the suggestion out of hand. It may work or it may not.
My brother had a late birthday. His birthday was 15 days past September 1 the cutoff so he couldn’t go to kindergarten. This was a big fail. My brother could read at 4 years old and when he finally got to school, they were teaching kids the alphabet. Talk about bored! They had him “writing a book”…in other words, copying the book into his notebook because they had nothing for him to do. By the time he was in 1st grade, he could do some 4th grade math. Again, what were they going to do with him? Nothing! He walked around the classroom looking for books to read while the teacher tended to the other students. I say this whole scenario ruined my brother’s academic career. He never enjoyed school and never got anything out of it so he stopped caring. They would have diagnosed him as ADHD now, if I understand what you guys are saying, but he was just bored and too smart for what they were doing in class. So sometimes the OLDER kids have as many issues as the younger ones.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution: New studies: Younger (immature) kids misdiagnosed with ADHD [...]

Cammi317

August 18th, 2010
11:35 am

Just to be clear, I was never saying ADHD is not real. I definitely know of a couple of children and adults who obviously suffer from this disease.

What I found disturbing was that the counselor’s grand kids, who were all teens at the time, had all been on the meds for a very long time. She told me that she just did not think they could function without them. With that I have a problem. My daughter has severe allergies and every season she is prescribed steroids and pills. I do my best to let her go as long as she possibly can without a lot of it. If she is constantly medicated how can her body build up a resistance or be given a chance to out grow her ailments? She doesn’t want to be medicated all of the time. If she seems bothered I will ask her do you want your meds and 85% of the time she will say she can deal with the symptoms. There is that other 15% where she really needs it and she takes them. No one wants to be dependent on medication if they do not have to be. My concern is whether a lot of the parents medicating their children ever give their children the chance to drug free.

I used to work for someone who had a son on the Ritalin and it seemed like if the child did ANYTHING that seemed remotely active he or is wife would quickly ask him if he took his meds today. If he answered no, they would immediately make him take them. None of those times was he doing anything outlandish or crazy, just being a kid. I found it very disturbing and I have always hoped that they were the exception rather than the rule.

Wayne

August 18th, 2010
12:04 pm

Thankfully, our doctor was willing to work with us on the dosing of the medicine. We didn’t want any side effects so we started out low – 5mg, twice a day. Sometimes, depending on what is going on, we’ll skip the second one. In school? Nope, he gets it every school day.

MJG: glad to hear you had a good trip to Boston! Generally, I try to read all the posts when I come back to work, but sometimes I miss’em. I’ve been to the italian restaurants on the North side of Boston. What a great experience!

David S

August 18th, 2010
12:10 pm

ADHD diagnosis is all about control. Drugging children into passive submission is all about control. There are no problem children, just a broken system that is unable to deal with any individuality or diversity. The system is unable and unwilling to take the time and give the attention or environment for anything but compliant blobs to inhabit the so-called learning institution, and so the criminal profession of psychiatry has been employed to provide both cover and a pharmaceutical solution to the problem.

Fortunately for me, my parents didn’t tollerate the ridiculous and arbitrary cutoff for school. They had been reviewing flashcards with me since birth and plenty of other items to make sure that I knew simple math, reading, and other things well before I reached school age. When the government system said that I had to wait another year, they put me into a Montessori, where I received a solid educational foundation and was provided with the necessary support and attention to help me grow as a learner. There, diversity was encouraged as was individual growth and experience.

The government school system is the problem, not the age of kids. Of course parents as well are to blame as they feel that their responsibilites for their children end once they become wards of the state via the school system. Diagnoses are seldom challenged, and the interest of the child is never put before the need for free time during the day or the big house and the 3 cars that dual incomes, etc. bring.

My parents may have made a mistake or two, but realizing that the government doesn’t know how to educate children certainly wasn’t one of them.

Wayne

August 18th, 2010
12:16 pm

@Cammi: I agree with you, with regards to the teens. Her feelings that they wouldn’t be able to function versus actually knowing – or even testing? Most of the reading, and in conversations with doctors, is that kids generally grow out of using meds. We hope we’re in that boat. We’re not happy about the idea of medicine, but our son is still very active, plays, can be a pain – all that – while still on the medicine. He’s not some kid sitting in the corner with no friends now.

It’s made a world of difference for our family.

@Shaggy: Wow! I have a hard time with that guy being kicked out of the service especially knowing some of the military guys I know… There wasn’t any other reason except he took some medicine in 3rd grade? What kind of discharge did he get? Very wierd.

shaggy

August 18th, 2010
12:31 pm

Wayne,

Check it out for yourself. If you have ever been treated with this medication, under the wonderful therapist’s diagnosis of ADD ADHD, you are disqualified from the service, as being not reliable under fire, and under fire is what everyone, even the clerks, sign on to do. No matter what you are like now or in the future, Disqualified, kicked out, branded for LIFE!
That is wrong, any way you cut it, and because his freakin parents couldn’t keep up and took the easy way out when he was, something like 8 years old.

lakerat

August 18th, 2010
12:59 pm

Hopefully, all of you have read the article that is located on this blog site, just to the right of these comments, titled “Health
DOCTOR IS IN: Is ADHD over-diagnosed?” This was written an discussed in March 2009…

A.M.T.

August 18th, 2010
1:04 pm

CDD thankyou soo much for your response, my husband and I have been discussing homeschooling for our son for awhile now. He is entering the 5th grade and I am worried that he will fall further behind because I know how tough 5th grade is and not to mention there will be 37 kids to one teacher this year, and to think he will be going to Middle school in a year scares me even more. He has taken Aderol and it didn’t seem to help in school, he is now on Vvyanse and just started the tiks, probably the worst so far. I will definately start a journal of all his side effects and tiks and discuss it further with his doctor, thats a great idea by the way. I would love to exchange emails and talk further, thankyou again soo much. It’s nice to know we are not alone :)

Michelle

August 18th, 2010
1:11 pm

MJG…you would be correct…I only have the one little guy! No girls in my house (not even the darn dogs!) It’s testosterone overload! ;o)

My little guy has his birthday in Mid-April. To me, I think he is one of the younger ones in his class. Several of the kids are already 8 or turning 8 at the beginning of the school year! He’s in the 2nd grade! Boy does he have the energy!!

Kindergarten was AWFUL! First grade was “ok”, but definitley better than K. This year has started off a little shaky. Week one…ok…week two (current) he has spent 2 days @ 2 hours each in the AP office! UGHH…it is SO frustrating. I’m hoping that once he sees that we are all on the same page, he will quit pushing the envelope!

He does get bored VERY easily though! He is incredibly bright…his 1st grade CRCT scores were exceeds in 2 categories (very high) and a meets that was just under the cutoff for exceeds! He LOVES math!

Both of his older brothers (different mother, same father) were on meds for ADD/ADHD from the time they started elementary school almost through high school! I will admit, one of the boys “might” have needed it, the other one quickly used the diagnosis as an excuse to do and act however he wanted. He was (and still is) incredibly lazy!

I do agree that sometimes the pace that they want to teach the kids is not at all conducive to the “activity” often seen in boys! If you have one kid in the class who is bored, disruptive, ahead of everyone, it can be difficult to get everyone else focused!

I just wish the schools could do a better job of finding the kids strengths and not trying to fix the weaknesses!

Wayne

August 18th, 2010
1:12 pm

Thanks Shaggy. I’ll check into it as my curiousity is aroused now. Interesting to me because one of the guys I work is is ex-Marine and he had been on all sorts of meds for bipolar disorder. I’ll ask him.

Teacher, Too

August 18th, 2010
1:23 pm

I was an early started– always the youngest or almost youngest in my class (October birthday– back when October birthdays were the early birthdays!). I had a few problems in 1st grade, and maybe 2nd grade– don’t really remember. I did catch up- and I loved graduating from high school at age 17!

Regarding ADHA– I, too, wonder if all the overstimulation that comes with TV, movies, and video games has had a detrimental influence on behavior, particularly young boys. I am in my 40’s, and we just didn’t have the constant stimulation of TV and video games– we ran around outside and used our imaginations to create games. We might watch Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers Neighborhood– but I would hardly think that compares to what kids watch today. Also, we didn’t have parents who sat us in front of the TV for hours and hours on end or stuck a dvd in the player for a long trip. We actually had to play games and /or read on those long trips!

While I do believe that ADD and ADHD are chemical imbalances, I also believe it is vastly overdiagnosed.

Finally, I have ALWAYS been told to never suggest that a student has or might have ANY kind of disorder. Nor am I allowed to even suggest that a visit to the dr might be necessary. That could put the school district at risk for paying for the dr visit. The ONLY thing I do (rather prudently, I might add), is to share with parents behaviors that I observe in my classroom. They can take that information and share it with the dr. However, if it’s a learning situation that may require special services, then that’s a different set of circumstances which has a protocal already in place.

lwa

August 18th, 2010
1:28 pm

@CDD – I don’t believe that teachers should or have the ability to diagnose kids, however, his K teacher saw something and you have to admit.

“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”

I don’t believe everything the teachers say. However, they are in the classroom with the kids for 6 – 8 hrs/day and interact with the kids differently than we would. Just recognized that they are with kids all day long and can SOMETIMES point out when something is different.

CDD

August 18th, 2010
1:32 pm

@ Iwa – I agree completely! But if you reread my previous post you would see that his K teacher made the comment about pulling him out on day #2 of the school year. There’s no way I will say that any teacher will know any child well enough to make that kind of call with such limited engagement – especially with about 15 other kids to get to know too. And she mentioned nothing about ADHD.

CDD

August 18th, 2010
1:39 pm

Regarding the Military & ADHD – I found this article which is interesting to read.

(small excerpt) “Recent changes in military policy regarding enlistment and ADHD are encouraging. Under guidelines in effect prior to 2004, a history of ADHD diagnosis or treatment was enough to disqualify a person from military service unless the individual could obtain a special waiver.”

Full article was found at: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/801.html

TechMom

August 18th, 2010
1:43 pm

@shaggy- there’s an unwritten rule out there that you never give the military your medical records. If you were ever given an inhaler they assume you have asthma which is technically incurable and they will not let you in. If you really have asthma, they’ll diagnose it. I don’t find it hard to believe that he was discharged for ‘medical reasons’ but I do find it hard to believe it stemmed from a casual conversation about ADD. The medical board for the military doesn’t tape everyone’s conversations so they can later kick you out after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in your training.

TechMom

August 18th, 2010
1:49 pm

@Wayne – same boat. It took us until our son was 12 before breaking down and trying out medication. The results were immediate and left me kicking myself for not having tried it a little sooner. I was totally against medication until I was so frustrated that I was ready to go on meds in order to deal with our son. I do think that until kids are about 9 or 10, medication should only be used in extreme cases. However if by the time they reach 4th grade, they still cannot stay on task for more than 15 minutes, get their homework done in a reasonable amount of time, or follow directions that include 2 or more steps, there is likely an ADD issue. I try to steer clear of the Hyperactivity part of it b/c the bigger issue is focus, not energy. You can moderate energy levels fairly well with diet, sleep and exercise but if the child still cannot stay on task, there is likely an issue.

Is age and maturity a factor? Absolutely. But like I said, I really don’t think kids younger than 9 or 10 can really be diagnosed properly. Their bodies are still growing and changing a lot and you’re taking kids who have had very little structure (at least compared to how it is in school) and they need time to adjust and learn.

motherjanegoose

August 18th, 2010
2:10 pm

CDD…good article and thanks for sharing!

shaggy

August 18th, 2010
2:26 pm

Techmom,

No taped conversation. It was an “overheard” conversation. This young man was a “boot”, not yet even close to being a seaman. He didn’t conceal it when he enlisted. He had grown up, way past it and didn’t consider it a problem. He told me that he made a comment to a mate, who was told that he was ADD, by his girlfriend, kiddingly…as young people will do. That is truly all it took. No, you don’t get any kind of review, court, or anything as a boot. They just kick your butt out. However, it does stay firmly on your record. “Medically Discharged”
Listen, he never was ADD, ADHD, or any other acronym. He just had lazy, hysterical parents, who in my opinion, didn’t deserve such a fine son. They took the easy way out and stuck a pill down his gullet every day, instead of encouraging him to be a little boy and experience the world around him. You know, keep up with him.
On the upside, my son knows and climbs with him. See, I trust him with his life too. ADD-ADHD be Damned!

As for the “new” regulations, maybe that is so, but how many great young people’s lives were ruined by this trash? Answer: Enough of them over the years that the regulations needed to be relaxed, because they were running out of recruiting possibilities. Thats A LOT of young people.

CDD

August 18th, 2010
3:36 pm

@A.M.T – if you would like to email me send an email to MoMania’s email address: ajcmomania@gmail.com and Theresa said she could connect us that way. Take care & have a great day!

mom2alex&max

August 18th, 2010
4:14 pm

OMG, I wish everyone would GET OFF the “my kid is so bright, he’s bored and that’s why he acts out” wagon. It’s getting old. My sons both have “exceed” in all categories of the CRCT..so freakin what. They are both in the gifted program at school and both get excellent grades. And yet they manage not to have disciplinary issues at school. And yes they are active boys. And no, they are not medicated in any way.

So whatever on that.

Wayne

August 18th, 2010
4:21 pm

I think that’s what happens: looking at how Shaggy views folks with ADD/ADHD – that’s how folks generally look that them. Look! That kid has ADD/ADHD! There’s something horribly wrong with him! He can’t be a productive member of society because, well, you know, he has ADD/ADHD!!

That’s sad. I know of a parent that can’t even say her child has Autism. She literally can’t say the word. I would never have thought her child had/has Autism, but he was diagnosed with it. I don’t spend hours with him so I couldn’t see it. He has Autism. Deal with it and move on. He’s not dead. He’s a very cool kid and he’s doing really well in school. What’s the problem?

Shaggy: if I misinterpreted what you meant, my apologies.

Dan

August 18th, 2010
4:28 pm

@Shaggy I agree with you on the fact that ADHD is way overdiagnosed and can cause some sort of stigma. But the Navy would not kick someone out based on such a conversation. They may have done their own diagnosis based on a conversation, and there is a potential that any slight deviation from the norm could cause them to not let him into SEAL training, but he didn’t get kicked out of elisted boot camp because of a conversation. Military boot camps (of all branches) are full of people who exhibit adhd symptoms whether diagnosed or not.

LM

August 18th, 2010
4:41 pm

My daughter’s birthday is the cut off date. She has always been the youngest in her class. When she first started school it was very obvious that her fine motor skills were far behind the rest of the class and she was not as mature as the “older” kids. We could have held her back but didn’t. At the time I felt it was in her best interest to get her into school. Looking back, it may have been a disservice but by then it was too late.

She did horrible in elementary. Her first grade teacher wanted me to have her checked for ADD/ADHD which we did and neigher her child care provider or doctor felt that was the underlying issues at school. After alot of time at the school it was found she was being kept from recess to read since she was struggling.

In 5th grade she had a meltdown. Total full blown out of control meltdown. She had a similar issue in 3rd grade but the teacher didn’t think it was anything to worry about. In 5th grade she had a teacher that she could not work with, I could not work with and it was a daily struggle. After the meltdown we went to counseling and we were in counseling for several months before Depression and ADHD were discussed. She is not “running at full speed” or “can’t stay focused”. We finally decided to try the meds. It was night to day in her attitude. By 6th grade we had a whole new outlook on school.

Looking back I should have not have started her until the next year. Either way she is ADHD, but it might have made it easier on the teachers, and in return might have made it easier on her.

shaggy

August 18th, 2010
5:23 pm

Wayne,

Dead wrong.
I don’t “ADD/ADHD – that’s how folks generally look that them. Look! That kid has ADD/ADHD! There’s something horribly wrong with him! He can’t be a productive member of society because, well, you know, he has ADD/ADHD!!

I don’t even believe in it at all, and I believe that giving kids serious drugs that have serious side effects like personality change, nervous tiks, ()wow, like I am going to give a kid ANYTHING that gives them a tik.) etc… is just wrong. The parents might have a child that is smarter than his age, so inquisitive that they are challenging, and just needing some old fashion boundaries set for them, but it’s still a child. The parents need to roll up their sleeves, rather than listen to some therapist that listens to some drug companies that listens to KA-CHING money!
I say its damaging, done because it offers an easy solution to the parents, and I have seen the lasting impact of this fraud.
So you see Wayne, that is kind of polar opposite to what you say.

shaggy

August 18th, 2010
5:29 pm

Dan,

Sorry, True story. I can’t really write anything else to make you believe me. This was a really “close to my family”, kind of thing, and I have no motivation to lie. So, go ahead and believe what you will. That does not change the truth.

shaggy

August 18th, 2010
5:43 pm

Look. I know that parents don’t medicate little kids for fun or to give them more TV time. I just don’t believe in medicating developing minds for convenience of the parents or the kids. There are other, (yes, a lot more work.) ways to engage a young mind. It is especially rewarding once you hit what really interests them, not what you want them to be. I have worked with “problem” kids in the outdoors, and seen the absolute facination when they tie their first bowline. I would venture to guess that in their “real world” the therapists will line up to diagnose a kid like that in a heat beat.
Actually, the heavy drugs they are pushing for these kids are far more dangerous than pot. Now, there’s food for thought.

shaggy

August 18th, 2010
5:51 pm

Dan,

One more factoid about the young man’s conversation. His part of the conversation was something to the effect of, HA HA I’m ADD. I took meds as a kid, so she would like me better and I look better too, and yes, they probably quickly “examined” him before booting him from boot.

catlady

August 18th, 2010
5:57 pm

I remember when the cut-off date was Jan 1. So we had these 4 1/2 year olds in kindergarten who had never been outside their families. Analysis the state did showed some tremendous percentage (80%?) of the babies were retained in first grade (back when we had that) and something like 65% of the kids who dropped out of school were those same babies! The state moved the cutoff to September 1. You should have heard the howls! If they had asked me, I would have made it Oct 1 for girls and June 1 for boys.

Be that as it may, when I taught kindergarten, I could tell you who my summer birthdays were, without looking, by the end of the first week of school. With some, I could tell you even sooner!

I would NEVEr put a July or August boy into school with the older kids. My son and older daughter are September babies, and although they are gifted, I have NEVER regretted the fact that they were the oldest ones in the class. My younger daughter (August 7) I thought very long and very hard about, met with her teachers, etc. I decided to let her go to kindergarten that year, and she did fine, but I worried about it a lot. She now (ta da! ta da!) has finished a master’s in astrophysics, so her immaturity hasn’t caught up with her yet.

We have so few kids here who are DIAGNOSED ADHD that I cannot comment on that!

catlady

August 18th, 2010
6:12 pm

OOPs, I said part of that wrong. 80% of those retained in first grade were the fall babies. Not the other way around.

BTW, my older daughter teaches 2nd graders. She was shaking her head after the first day, saying she had at least 8 summer birthdays. She was wrong–when she checked it was 10! So, yes, teachers can tell quickly.

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A.M.T.

August 19th, 2010
12:02 am

@ Deb, thanks for your comment, I really appreciate the advice and the support. Good luck to you as well, take care.

Heather

August 19th, 2010
8:54 am

Wow! Do I agree with this. My oldest has moderate ADHD combined-type but we knew there was something going on when he was two – he was very hyper and impulsive. Never should a teacher alone be diagnosing or even remotely suggesting a possible diagnosis to a parent. If they feel there is something going on they should ask the school psychologist to observe first. THEN, and ONLY then should a trained pediatric psychologist in conjunction with the parents and teacher(s) assess the child. We did not use the school psychologist or our pediatrician (who I absolutely loved and trusted) because I wanted someone who did this as a profession to decrease the chance of a misdiagnosis.
Great feedback and comments.

Heather

August 19th, 2010
8:58 am

@ Shaggy – I agree with other options for medication. Up until this year we were able to control my son’s ADHD symptoms with diet, sleep and controlling allergies. He is now 9 and we only started a non-stimulant medication because his impulse control was getting dangerous. I prefer no meds and behavior therapy – much better way to go to teach them how to manage their symptoms so they can become self-sufficient and independent adults.

Frank Barnhill, MD

August 19th, 2010
2:16 pm

My rules of thumb on diagnosing ADHD:
You can’t accurately diagnose it in a child less than age 6. Too many of these kids have ADHD-like symptoms but are really just normal little boys and girls with normal curiosity and impulsiveness.
In evaluating and treating behavior-disordered kids over the past 29 years, I’ve found the younger a child is when you try to diagnose ADHD, the more likely the diagnosis is wrong and will harm the child and many times, the family. Often, these kids will respond to things other than drugs.
Too many kids are diagnosed with ADHD, even though their behavior problem only occurs in one setting instead of the two or more required by the DSM-IV, the book used by Psychiatrists to make psychological diagnoses. To suffer from ADHD a child should have a problem in two settings or environments (i.e. Home and School) that interferes with his or her ability to function like a normal child would in a similar circumstance. For more info, please visit my information-content website: ADHDbehavior.com.
Frank Barnhill, MD author “Mistaken for ADHD”

catlady

August 22nd, 2010
2:26 pm

I disagree with you, Dr. Barnhill. If you have a 4 or 5 year old who behaves, in terms of attention span, like a 2 year old THERE IS A PROBLEM w hich needs to be addressed! Is there variation among children in maturity–yes! Should it be considered to be normal if the lag is 2 or 3 years? No!

The problem with waiting too much for a valid evaluation is that you have very bad habits established in that time,as well as the kid gets a bad rep–no just from teacher but from other kids and their parents. This leads to even more alienation.

I have seen quite a few kids who likely needed meds, but parents were unwilling to consider it. With few exceptions, these are average or above in intelligence, but the wheels in their heads spin at an inappropriate rhythm. It is sad for the kids, and a horror show for the kids in the class (who get so much less of the teacher’s time) as well as the teacher, who is charged with meeting the needs of ALL the class, from low IQ to high IQ, BD, ESOL, etc.

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MattsMom

August 24th, 2010
1:48 pm

1) ADHD is not on the autism spectrum
2) Stimulant medication will help anyone focus. The effects may be more obvious in someone with “real” ADHD, but don’t have an opposite reaction in someone without the disorder. That it only works w/real ADHD is a common myth.
3)Kids with ADHD are less mature than same age peers due to slower development of executive functioning – organization, impulse management, etc.
I am a mom, who is a mental health professional. My son is both gifted and learning disabled (ADHD). These are very real challenges that families face. Our goal in choosing medication for him is to help him reach his full potential. Even medicated he is not as “quiet and compliant” as school would like him, but he is able to learn in ways that he can’t without the meds. He is certainly not drugged out, he has better control of himself, but he is still high-spirited and energetic.
The typical educational environment is not made for my son who needs to learn on the go, can’t tolerate repetition and review and loves to study topics in depth. There are a lot of problems in the educational system and not being willing to meet the kids where they are at and expecting everyone to be the same cookie cutter kid is just one of them.

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