Should 4-year-olds be diagnosed with ADHD?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) had created new guidelines for diagnosing and treating ADHD in kids as young as 4. Previously their guidelines focused on 6- to 12-year olds.

An article in Time Healthland says that new data suggests that ADHD can begin earlier than 6 and kids may benefit from earlier behavioral treatments.

From Time Healthland:

“Treating children at a young age is important, because when we can identify them earlier and provide appropriate treatment, we can increase their chances of succeeding in school,” said Dr. Mark Wolraich, chair of the AAP subcommittee responsible for writing the report.

“Kids with ADHD typically have problems focusing and paying attention. They are hyperactive and behave impulsively. But the condition may look different in different age groups. Among school-aged children (age 6 or older), about half don’t have issues with hyperactivity, according to Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, who specializes in studying preschool ADHD. In this age group, attention problems are more common, likely because they become more obvious in the school setting, where children need to sit in class and concentrate for longer periods of time.”

“Hyperactivity is more common among preschoolers, however. They may be accident-prone or have trouble playing with other kids. According to the AAP, it’s the number of symptoms, and the number of different caregivers who notice them, that is important. It’s not enough, for example, for only parents to complain of their child’s overactive behavior. In order to meet the bar for diagnosis and justify treatment, at least one other party, such as a day care teacher or babysitter, must also note the same behaviors. And these symptoms must be persistent and severe enough to impair the child’s ability to function, which could involve anything from their inability to get along with other children to being consistently unable to follow directions.”

I get that early intervention can help kids, however I just think it’s pretty hard to diagnose ADHD in kids because much of it mimics “normal” childhood behavior. You may have a child that is extremely active but still within the realm of normal. You may also have asynchronous development where the child’s self-control and social skills are far behind because their intellect is so high, but that doesn’t mean they have ADHD.

We know there are already bunches of false diagnosis for kids with spring and summer birthdays. They seem less mature and have less self control than their older classmates and therefore get tagged as ADHD. I think examining preschoolers is just asking for kids to be misdiagnosed. Give kids time to develop and see what shakes out.

Obviously a parent should have options, but they also need to know that A.There can be misdiagnosis in young kids and B.Lots of doctors are more than happy to throw drugs at an unruly kid. These are my concerns.

What do you think? Should kids as young as 4 be evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD? Is early intervention worth misdiagnosing other kids?

112 comments Add your comment

Brianne

October 18th, 2011
1:14 am

Whatever happened to letting kids be kids? You have parents out their who dope there children up on foods that cause kids to act hyper and then have the nerve to think these kids need meds. Our Pediatrician even stated to me that the kids who need it can’t get it while the ones who don’t are getting meds that they don’t need. Now I understand if the child is older and having trouble but there is a big difference between a child goofing off and having fun. People need to learn the difference. Might even be behavior. Let the child run the house and when your ready for it to stop all of a sudden you have a problem. Its absurd to think that a child of 4 can be accurately diagnosed. Even better yet stop over stimulating at a young age. Shut the cartoons off and read your child a book or play a game. This mess is getting out of control

shaggy

October 18th, 2011
6:41 am

Are you serious? NO way!
ADHD is a made up disease anyway. Where were these ADD/ADHD kids when I was young? I’ll tell you. They were me, and my counterparts…my buddies to this day. Today, we are artisans, craftsmen, businessmen, and adventurers still. I shudder to think what would have happened if we were drugged into complacency by our parents.

I have a young relative that was tossed out of Navy SEAL training, because he didn’t think it mattered that he had been drugged with this crap, at age 10, so he didn’t tell them…until he was overheard didcussing it with a mate in the barracks. Then, he was tossed out of SEAL training and the Navy…just like that, this made up, and way over prescribed drugging cost him his dream…one that he had worked for years to attain.

My kid is what many parents would call ADD/ADHD, but there is NO WAY he will be subjected to this mess. Instead, he is engaged, boundaries established, with clear rewards established for achievement. He already climbs better than men with three times his experience, and he is learning so seriously complicated tool crafting. NO, No crappy fad druugging needed here.

suzettehodge

October 18th, 2011
7:37 am

Children as young as 4, can now diagnosed with attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) http://bit.ly/qSezQ0

DB

October 18th, 2011
7:37 am

No way on God’s green earth would I start loading up my four year old with psychotropic drugs because their attention span wasn’t what I thought it should be!!

Instead, I would turn off the TV and cut waaaay back on the video and computer game, start looking seriously at what kind of crap I was feeding them, and start working with them right then and there on attention issues. If it comes down to drugs or school, I’d even consider home schooling, if that’s what it took to keep them off drugs — and I’m not a huge proponent of homeschooling.

Sorry, but I know first-hand how scarily quick physicians are to prescribe those drugs. Our own pediatrician, when I was going around the mulberry bush with a possible ADD diagnosis for my son in the 1st grade, casually said, “Well, let’s start him on Ritalin and see what happens.” I looked at him in astonishment and said, “Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind? You’re going to give a kid Ritalin as an experiment?!” Even then, I was well-aware of the limitations that having a history of that kind of drug use would impose on a child — and who would want to throw those kind of roadblocks in front of a child starting at age 4?!?! And, as it turns out, it wasn’t ADD — it was a strong case of sensory defensiveness, which was treated quickly without drugs. I would have compromised my son’s future on the whim of an overworked pediatrician and a sweet, if somewhat inept, teacher. No, thank you!

motherjanegoose

October 18th, 2011
7:39 am

@ shaggy…are YOU serious:

“ADHD is a made up disease anyway”.

If you choose not to medicate, that is ABSOLUTELY your choice but to dispute ADHD is quite another. I know there are skeptics.

Your credibility today, just left ( for me).

You may think the same of me and I understand.

Perhaps someone else will take this up…I have to head to the airport.

motherjanegoose

October 18th, 2011
7:43 am

BTW…medication is NOT the only way to treat ADHD and I would agree that a four year old is too young to medicate but perhaps others can tell us their experiences. Denying medication and denying ADHD are two different things, to me.

shaggy

October 18th, 2011
7:49 am

MJG,

Sorry, you are speaking to solid granite on this one.
It IS a manufactured malady, and prescribing pcychotropic drugs to kids is just wrong, unless they are indeed crazy, not just more active than their peers.

I had no idea that I had “credibility” with you in the first place. What is that anyway…oh I forgot, you don’t like to answer questions, unless they are the easy ones, that don’t challenge.

motherjanegoose

October 18th, 2011
8:04 am

@ shaggy…I am granite on this one too. I have seen the before/ after and many children are not able to function without medications but are successful, confident and productive when someone finally figures out what is wrong. Again, medication is NOT for everyone.

To me, this is kind of like you telling us you do not care for Texans
( I think you are the one who said this…am I correct? ). They do not give a cow patty about you either. You may not give a cow patty about me and that is fine.

I was at a school in Dunwoody earlier this month, I have known them for over 20 years. When I arrived, I was greeted with, ” We just love you!” HAHA! I told them that not everyone does. I am aware!

Some questions I do NOT know the answers too…I simply have faith.

Have a good day all!

Figment

October 18th, 2011
8:13 am

I agree with you shaggy. No way I would ever put my child on these drugs. Whatever happened to parenting?! I’ve seen what being on this type of “medicine” did to my cousin.

shaggy

October 18th, 2011
8:29 am

MJG,

I have Texas blood in me, on both sides, and yes, I find many Texans to be arrogant, including my own kin. No, everything is not bigger in Texas, only more inflated with hot air. I throw dried “cow patties” at them, whenever I have an opportunity, and they mostly toss them back, like good Americans. See, I do recognize the kinship, and it’s American.

It is good that the kids love you and your presentation, otherwise you would be taking a serious business hit, now wouldn’t you. However, I don’t see any link to kids loving you and the existence of a phantom syndrome that all of the sudden popped into our culture.

JJ

October 18th, 2011
8:29 am

I agree 100000000% with Shaggy. He is dead on.

Instead of doping our kids, here’s a radical thought………MAKE THEM GO OUTSIDE AND RUN!!!!!

Take away the freaking video games. Or at least reduce the amount of time spent on them. Get some physical exercise. Go play tag, hide & Seek, ride your bike up and down the street, walk the dog………

Quit giving them EVERYTHING. Make them use their imaginations. Go play with a stick and see what you can get into…….

I hate driving through subdivisions and not seeing any kids outside playing, riding bikes, etc. I take my dog to the park and there’s no kids playing out there……It’s so sad…..we were NEVER in the house…constantly outside.

RJ

October 18th, 2011
8:36 am

@Shaggy, ADHD is more than just an overactive child. You should really do some research.

ADHD is very difficult to recognize in children that young. It’s even hard to recognize in kids a couple of years older. This is why a licensed professional has to observe the child several times and gather information from parents and teachers to make sure a correct diagnosis is made. I have a child with ADHD and I know how difficult it can be to live with. @Shaggy, my husband has ADHD and he’s in his 40’s. Growing up he was always getting in trouble. He said that during the 70’s you were just called bad. All the spankings in the world didn’t change his behavior. He is thankful that there is a name for it today. Honestly, once we realized what was wrong with my son, it explained a lot about my husband’s behavior.

I opted not to do meds with my child until he was older. Instead, we had weekly sessions with a child psychologist. This year we decided to see how he would far without it. So far, he’s doing okay. His teachers admit that he does have off moments, has severe organizational issues and has some impulsivity issues, but overall it’s much better than it was in previous years. This will never go away, so our job as parents is to help him understand his problem and deal with it so he can be a succesful, productive human being.

RJ

October 18th, 2011
8:37 am

Let me also say that boys tend to be overdiagnosed at young ages. Teachers have to learns “how” to teach boys. They’re wired differently. However, this is a definite difference between a normal active boy and one with ADHD. It just may take more time to recognize.

FoorballMom

October 18th, 2011
8:45 am

Every child is different and while it is nice that everyone on this blog seems to have pretty “normal” children, what about the parents that don’t. What do you do when you have tried every therpy offered to you, counseling and medication and you still have a teenager who is angry at the world, unable to do well in school even though he says he wants to and is violent at home to the point that the local police department knows you by name?

Do you know what it is like to actually be afraid of your child?

motherjanegoose

October 18th, 2011
8:59 am

@ shaggy…

“It is good that the kids love you and your presentation, otherwise you would be taking a serious business hit, now wouldn’t you.”

Those kids, in Dunwoody, could not have loved me for over 20 years. I work with ages 2-7 and they might be parents themselves. The comment was made by the principal who can see ( firsthand) my professional expertise. I am not a Doctor, Pharmacist, nor a Psychologist and perhaps it would be helpful to hear from someone in those professions to bring a different point of view to the table. I am a teacher, who has seen the before and after of many children…not just a dozen or so in my neighborhood.

@ RJ…good points…sad to think that some kids get endless spankings for something that a spanking could not fix.

OUTTA HERE FOR REAL NOW…I WAS JUST TEASIN’ EARLIER…

It is had for me to let a topic go, that I have witnessed often in the classroom.

i LOVE...

October 18th, 2011
9:07 am

having been in a classroom for years, i agree that children are overdiagnosed with add/adhd. however, i have seen a handful of students who honestly could not control their behavior/energy level and struggled to maintain composure in class.

it is absolutely pitiful to watch a child fight to stay in his seat, concentrate on his work, etc. when his body is telling him otherwise. in most of these situations, i just let him have a desk in the back of the room so he can roam a little and let that unrest sort itself out. i’ve had students who needed to stand by the desk instead of sit in it. i have also had a few who paced the back of the room because they could not sit still.

one year, i had a student whose mother was a well-educated advocate for her child’s ADHD (and a SPED teacher, so she had seen it all). she was trying to deal with his ADHD without medication. we implemented behavioral strategies in class for him to use when he could no longer focus. these worked most days, but there were some days that i wanted to cry for him. he genuinely had a difficult time concentrating. this child was active outside of school, in extracurricular activities, and the extra energy-burning still did not help.

until you actually experience a child who truly has ADHD, it is easy to dismiss it. but when you can see this child’s face turning red because the energy is literally building up inside of him, you realize that this disorder is real.

JJ

October 18th, 2011
9:12 am

Thats why they need RECESS back in schools. Let these kids release some energy. Even as adults we cannot sit still for 6 hours. Our bodies need to release energy. That’s why we take breaks, get fresh air, re-focus……

Sylvania

October 18th, 2011
9:18 am

I’m inclined to listen to what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say, and do as they recommend. But that’s just me.

Shaggy, day-in day-out you just seem to be so much smarter than everyone else. You’ve got it all figured out, don’t ya?

shaggy

October 18th, 2011
9:27 am

RJ,

Like your husband, I was just bad…sometimes. Other times I was good…sometimes. I was never searching for what was wrong with me, or making excuses for me, I just learned boundaries, and often stretched them out as far as I could get away with, or got caught in the process.
My friends and I, were “free range” kids, so we could exhaust ourselves in the constant war that goes on between what children can get away with and what parents will allow. The discipline applied when out of bounds, kept a lid on the natural “kid getting away with something instinct”…I learned and formulated what makes me unique. I pass this on to my own, and never wonder what is wrong with with us, because nothing is wrong with us…nothing.
Oh, I am still bad, after all of these years, and my wife loves me for it. She calls it “character”.

shaggy

October 18th, 2011
9:28 am

Sylvania,

No not smarter than everybody else…just you.

Jasmine

October 18th, 2011
9:32 am

ADHD is real but not every child diagnosed actually has it. Treating at a very young age would make me uncomfortable since a busy active youngster isn’t that different from an ADHD 4 year old. Its hard for little kids to sit and listen and apply themselves to worksheets because they are just that, little kids.

misawa

October 18th, 2011
9:40 am

Preach Shaggy.

RJ

October 18th, 2011
9:42 am

@Shaggy, it is obvious that you have your opinion on this matter and you’re sticking to it. I won’t argue the point with you because I live with this daily. I also teach kids that suffer from it. I’ll let you and @JJ believe what you will (and for the record, my son’s elementary school did have recess! He still goes outside with his friends now playing basketball and riding their scooters). In the meantime, I will continue to do what is in the best interest of my child. And I’ll help my students with it too.

JOD

October 18th, 2011
9:53 am

I won’t go so far as to say these disorders don’t exist, but for the majority of kids, JJ and Shaggy are right on. DD is 3 1/2, and she definitely pushes it from time to time, which is normal for her age. She can also have the attention span of a fruit fly, which again, is normal for her age.

It’s repulsive to think that preschoolers could be misdiagnosed and drugged by parents who jump the gun and Rx-happy doctors. I bet if these people saw the preschool class DD is in, they would run to the medicine cabinet, as all of the kids get wound up… You should see them tearing around on a rainy day when there’s no playground time :o)

usually lurking

October 18th, 2011
10:02 am

My oldest son’s 1st grade teacher wanted him drugged so badly… thank goodness we had support for behavioral modification from the school’s administration. The boy is a senior in high school now – he’s told me several times this year that he’s very glad we didn’t medicate him and he takes some well deserved pride in having overcome the behavioral issues and lack of impulse control that made him a regular visitor to the principal’s office in elementary and middle school.

Figment

October 18th, 2011
10:34 am

That’s the problem, the automatic response to an overactive child is to medicate them to keep them quiet. I understand that one unruly child in a classroom makes it harder on the other children and on the teacher but in most cases medication is not the answer. We seem to forget that these are children and they are going to push boundaries. They need structure and discipline, not medication.

JJ

October 18th, 2011
10:53 am

Amen Figment!

MomsRule

October 18th, 2011
11:04 am

@DB — could you expand on this statement?

I was well-aware of the limitations that having a history of that kind of drug
use would impose on a child

What limitations are imposed?

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
11:10 am

Take this DIRECTLY from a parent who volunteers at their child’s school, spends time with them, reads to them every night and has since they were infants, helps with homework, disciplines consistently, limits TV time to NO MORE than 30 minutes a day and has kids who ride bikes, 4 wheelers, and dirt bikes all day long…. ADHD is REAL. However, I opted out of meds for both my kids. My daughter was diagnosed at age 6, nonetheless we did cognitive behavioral therapy and it helped a lot. We still have some issues, but one week of taking the lowest available does of Adderall turned my daughter into a complete basket case at the end of the day. I just couldn’t do it. It takes A LOT of work on our part, WAY more than the parent of an average behaved child to keep the kids in line (my sister does NOTHING with her son and he is an ANGEL). Constant lists and new reward programs… that is what many of our days consists of. My son who is 6 is having an extremely hard time in school with sitting still during reading, following directions, running around (hyper), and being able to make the switch from one activity to another right away when directed. I can’t even get my son’s teacher to be as consistent with the behavior modification, she just wants me to “fix it”

My son, like Shaggy’s can also climb just about ANYTHING and can do front flips, pull air on bikes, do tricks on dirt bikes and race 4 wheelers. And like Shaggy said about his son, most people already say my son has ADHD. And this folks is where the problem comes in. MOST of us parents with these types of super-hero-energized kids don’t WANT to dope our kids up. However, MOST of you judge us when you see the kid acting hyper saying he is out of control, or the teachers expect every child to have the same temperament. Society says it’s ADHD is bull crap, yet it’s society who puts the pressure on the parents to “make” their child “fit in” with the rest of the kids and therefore drives the parents to medicate their children. THINK about that the next time you judge a cute, happy, silly, hyper little boy and his parents.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
11:23 am

@Figment ~ it’s not usually the parent’s immediate reaction to medicate… it’s the rest of society (the teachers, administrators, neighbors, ect) that judge the parent as lacking and not doing what “they should do” that pushes the use of meds so they don’t have to deal with the kid. That is the REALNESS of the situation.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 18th, 2011
11:26 am

I had to run the kids to school so I may have missed some of the conversation but from earlier —

Shaggy — I used to be like you and not think it was real but then you witness if first hand and you know it is real. Does it get overdiagnosed and misdiagnosed? ALL the time!! and that is the danger. But there are absolutely kids that need that medicine to get through school and their work as much as a diabetic needs insulin. It is comparable to yelling at a blind kid to see his work as yelling at an ADHD kid to concentrate. It is often out of their control.

It is very hard to diagnose accurately and can be confused with many other things going on with a child — including just being immature.

I would encourage any parents that have concerns to work with your pediatrician to find a qualified specialist (psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist) to evaluate your child. I do not believe that the average pediatrician should be doing that diagnosis. It is too complex and has too many reprocussions (can’t spell) if diagnosed incorrectly. The diagnosis is a lengthy process and takes a lot of involvement from teachers and parents and will probably take multiple visits to a specialist.

I would also encourage parents whose kids are having trouble to look for progressive schools. I will look for the link but I read an article a few years back that was talking about what a HUGE difference an understanding and progressive school environment can make. I have spent a lot of time in classrooms and have absolutely seen what a difference a progressive teacher or principal make for those kids.

A friend had her child stuck in a closet by a teacher in the first grade because he was so overactive!!! so completely unacceptable and I am pretty sure they could have sued!! This was not a teacher that understood the child’s condition!! You have to find teachers and principals that understand it is real and they need your help, not your criticism or punishment!!

You need a school to be formative and not punitive. It is a medial condition, not a choice!!

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
11:26 am

@JJ ~ my kids are outside everyday, in the heat, cold, rain, or snow. They are extremely active. However, none of the neighbors will let their kids play with mine because they say mine are “too hyper”. So… their kids, the perfect ones that are NOT ADHD diagnosed are the ones who stay inside and play video games.

It’s really amazing to me that most people have NO idea what parent’s of kids with ADHD are like. Get to know one.. you would be surprised.

GwinnettRes

October 18th, 2011
11:30 am

There is actually a video on the overmedication of children in our society. It is a PBS documentary called “The Overmedicated Child.” Whether these disorders exist or not, parents would think twice about starting their kids on regular prescription drugs at such a young age if they saw this video.

The video chronicled the life of several children that were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders at early ages. The disorders ranged from ADHD to manic depression. As a parent, the video is very eyeopening.

Many of the children were medicated at less than ten years of age. The medications would lead to side effects such as involuntary ticks. The doctors and parents would then feel compelled to medicate those “side effects.” These children ended up stuck on multiple medications for years. When they tried to stop the meds, none of the unwanted side effects stopped. Their lives and quality of life had been forever altered in a negative way.

ADHD may very well be real. However, I agree with the other posters here. It is overdiagnosed and often used as an excuse by society to control behaviors through drugs that could be controlled through other measures.

homeschooler

October 18th, 2011
11:33 am

I agree that age 4 is way to young to be diagnosing with ADHD. There are so many reasons that we see these problems more than we saw years ago. 1) we start kids in school to early (some kids have just turned 4 when they start pre-K). 2) It is a proven fact that excessive video games and tv cause hyperactivity.

My kids did not show any interest in sitting still and “learning” until they were 6 (Remember when 1st grade was the FIRST GRADE). At that point, they very quickly picked up on everything they “missed” by not sitting in a classroom at 4 and 5. I am a strong believer in not expecting anything out of a child academically until they are 6. Let them go to “school” and “socialize” or whatever but don’t expect every 5 yr old to sit still and learn to read.
People let their children get on video games and TV entirely to early and for way to much time. When a 3 yr old’s brain gets accustomed to that level of stimulation, it is impossible for him to match it by playing with toys or running around outside. I have seen direct correlations between the amount of TV my kids watch (for days at a time) and how productive they are at playing independently. In addition, kids are overstimulated with activities. Their little brains never learn to slow down. Then we wonder why they can’t sit still.

@ Shaggy..I agree with you that ADHD is a made up disorder but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exhist. It seems to me that disorders are created from the symptoms presented. If enough people present with the same symptoms, a disorder is created. Now does that mean these kids were “born” this way or that they were created by environment (TV, preservatives in foods, permissive parents) who knows. They still have ADHD. At least that’s how I see it.
I would never EVER treat my child with meds. A common medication for ADHD is adderall. Adderall is nothing but speed. On a drug screen adderall shows as amphetamine (same as meth, crank ice or whatever you want to call it). Would you give your kid meth? I’m sure there are some extreme cases in which a child truly needs to be medicated to function but I think all other things (diet, behavior modification etc..) should be exhausted. Studies have shown that medicated children have a much higher chance of using illegal drugs as teens and young adults.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
11:34 am

@TWG ~ where can we find progressive school and how do we know what to look for?

GwinnettRes

October 18th, 2011
11:36 am

The video that I referenced in my earlier post can actually be watched here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/medicatedchild/

Regardless of which side of the issue you fall, you should watch this series. It is very informative and should be required viewing for parents.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
11:37 am

@homeschooler ~ so what about the kid who does not and has not taken in too much TV and video games?

Jennifer

October 18th, 2011
11:38 am

I think ADHD does exist, but I think it’s over-diagnosed and over-medicated.

My nephew’s kindergarten teacher told my sister and BIL that she thought he had it, but they didn’t medicate him or anything.

Yes, he was hyper. Yes, he acted up sometimes. But he was a five-year-old boy. He loves school and learns well.

If a child’s learning is seriously disrupted by behavior issues, then I think it’s time to look into medicine or therapy. But if a kid has more energy than those around him or can be distracting sometimes, I don’t think that should qualify as a “disorder.”

Wayne

October 18th, 2011
11:42 am

I’m with RJ on this one. We’ve had this discussion before. I think the statement was.. Until you walk in MY shoes…

We went the doctor/pyschiatrist route. We spoke to the teacher. We spoke to everyone. We waited. And then, our oldest went on Ritalin. Immediately he showed improvement. Here’s the thing. We started with the lowest dose we could. The doc wanted to go higher but we were worried, as I’m sure most of you are saying here, that he would be ‘drugged’ up. Not the case. It helps him to focus.

This is an example from him (he’s 8 now): Before medication, he loved art. He’d draw a picture that was all over the place and he couldn’t paint between the lines. He’d get frustrated because he couldn’t ‘get it right’. First day on Ritalin? He’s at his easel drawing an underwater scene, and it was (yeah, he’s my son) awesome. Everything was in place, colored just so, it truly was pretty cool to see what he came up with. I sat him down afterward and asked how he did it. He told me that before, he could never picture the scene in his head. Now, he can picture it in his head and put it on paper.

The other thing to note is that he is not in some sort of stupor or lazing around. He is still a very active, precocious boy. Just able to focus his body and thoughts better.

His teacher at the time also made comments about how well he was doing in school immediately after he started taking Ritalin.

BTW: he still loves art. And he has his heart set on going to MIT.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 18th, 2011
11:45 am

One for each of me – You interview the principals — You ask them their views on ADHD, you give them scenarios that have happened or things your’re worried about happening and ask them how they would handle. They need to offer accommodations without an IEP or a 504 — Kids should be allowed to type at any time if they need to or want to (handwriting is often very hard for ADHD kids). They should be able to get up and move around if they need to (a solution can be found where it is not distracting to other kids.) In one class my daughter was in a child needed gum to help concentrate so the whole class was allowed to chew gum (by the principal) during writing assignments. All the parents sent in gum. Ask about punishments and what they would do to a kid found to by hyper or lacking self control. Ask if they are open to your kid taking a break, visiting the counselor or working quietly in another area if they needed that. These are all accommodations that a progressive school, principal and teacher will make. You have to make sure they understand is a disability and not a choice. The kid is not choosing not to pay attention and not choosing to be active. (Another thing is willing to use silent signals to let a child know if they are doing something unacceptable that can be quietly corrected without calling attention to it.

loads of things a school can do without a IEP or 504 that can help a child — if they understand it and choose to help!

Wayne

October 18th, 2011
11:48 am

I would also add that we worked with the doctor(s) to make sure we were using the correct medicine. If not, we could have tried something different.

jj

October 18th, 2011
11:49 am

How many of you remember your summers like this:
Up in the morning then out with your friends playing baseball till lunch
Afternoon at the pool swimming with friends till dinner
After dinner playing outside “until the street lights go on”
Somehow this formula has been lost and now the world is full of people with some type of “special need” that allows no responsible for their actions. If you are over 50 try to remember anyone that had any of the new alphabet maladies. And lets not forget that Ritalin is the number two selling drug behind cholesterol drugs. Coincidence….I think not

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
11:50 am

@TWG ~ Thanks a bunch for that info. I am having some serious issues with my son in his school now. He has been to the principals office twice already, not for aggression, but for not being able to follow directions. I am getting extremely frustrated because whenever we try some sort of behavior modification and I get my son accustomed to it… she slacks off with making copies or printing it out and I have to start all over. I even offered to do the copying and printing of the behavior sheet, however she hasn’t responded.

RJ

October 18th, 2011
11:54 am

Theresa, you are so right. Much of what you stated is exactly what I said. It can’t be diagnosed over night. My child took meds for one year when he was 12. I refused to put him on drugs when he was first diagnosed. He was just too young. We decided not to go without them this year. He’s adjusting and taking more responsibility. The therapy helped him a lot. It’s a long road, but he’ll find success.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
11:54 am

@jj ~ again I say.. what about those kids who do ALL those things!?!? No one wants to answer that. Most of the kids with ADHD ARE the ones playing outside because it is the only time they get to dispense all the pent up energy they have been told to hold in all day. My son gets only 15 minutes of recess in a 6 hour school day. What is wrong with this picture???

CPA

October 18th, 2011
11:55 am

My 10 year old son has ADHD. He was diagnosed when he was 6. We chose not to medicate and our psychologist agreed since he was not in danger of falling behind in school. We watched what he ate, made sure he receive plenty of exercise and were very hands on with teachers and administrators. Even with that, he still gets over-excited and loses focus and impulsive but he is much better than he was. He can’t keep his room clean/organized to save his life and he still does not have the same maturity level of a normal 10 year old. He is definitely improving.

We had this discussion about 4 years ago...

October 18th, 2011
11:57 am

…on this blog and the responses were just as varied then as now – and TWG even gave me the same “talk” that she gave Shaggy today. And motherjane responded the same, too, as did JJ – bet DB and motherjane will really have something to talk about at their next get together since they are on opposite sides of this one…

My youngest son (now 23) had problems staying in his seat all through elementary school – did we medicate him – no. Did his teachers suggest such a thing – no.

Fortunately, for us and him, most of the third, fourth and fifth grade teachers recognized his “hyperactivity” and “attention deficit” as being related to his being a boy and his being an ACTIVE boy. One teacher in the fourth grade drew a circle around his desk and told him when he got antsy to feel free to stand up, but “do not get outside the circle” – this worked great.

More teachers need to be trained to be creative, and more tolerant of the “active’ child – and to not make medication referrals to parents – and TWG and motherjane, yes medication does “slow down” the child’s activity, which may allow the child to learn more effectively – yet we do not know what damages are done to the child from these meds – and we do know that 99% of the over-active, attention deficit kids grow out of the hyperactivity once they reach HS –

And yes, there are many adults out there today who thrive on their “diagnosed” ADHD, and continue to use this as an adult crutch to lean on when they continue to fall asleep at meetings and stuff while holding down full time employment, while also getting out of work at least one to 5 hours week to attend their “therapy” sessions – MDs just love these people…

shaggy

October 18th, 2011
11:58 am

Theresa,

Sorry, but I have to point to some flawed logic.

“Kids should be allowed to type at any time if they need to or want to (handwriting is often very hard for ADHD kids).”
No, they just need to have some kind of methodology the engages them to write, make it fun maybe, or writing about something they like, not a crutch like a keyboard.

“They should be able to get up and move around if they need to (a solution can be found where it is not distracting to other kids.) In one class my daughter was in a child needed gum to help concentrate so the whole class was allowed to chew gum (by the principal) during writing assignments. All the parents sent in gum.”
If it against the rules to get up and move around, it needs to be reinforced that you follow that rule. There are some things that you do, if you don’t sit still, you might die, like a ferris wheel ride, so changing the rules could endanger the child. Rewarding the kid for changing the rule, gives them power over you, the parent. They can do what they, the kid, wants. It is simply about boundaries and enforcing those boundaries every time.

I would write more, but I have to go.

Wayne

October 18th, 2011
11:58 am

We had issues with our school system not taking my son’s problems seriously enough. We changed schools and he’s doing very well. And, he’s much happier.

hoyaRN

October 18th, 2011
12:01 pm

@FoorballMom…I do know what it is like to be afraid of my child. I have the holes in my walls, the broken toys, and my daughters have the bruises and bite marks left by my son in his out-of-control, angry rages, and he was only 4.

I believe ADHD can be diagnosed at 4, but it doesn’t mean you have to medicate at age 4. That is a parent’s choice. ADHD is a neurological condition. Read the studies. There is physical evidence that there is a neuro-chemical event happening in the brain that causes ADHD. I am thankful there are meds available today. My family was on the verge of total breakdown until we got my son on the meds he needed. I believe ADHD has a spectrum, like autism. Some kids are able to function with boundaries and behaviorial therapy and no meds (like my oldest daughter), but on the other end of the spectrum are children (and adults) who cannot survive without their meds (like my son). I didn’t used to believe ADHD was real, until I watched my son suffer, and I felt totally helpless. When the meds gave me my loving, compassionate, funny, curious, outgoing, adventurous son back, I was made a believer that this condition is real.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
12:03 pm

@Shaggy ~ I get your logic, however, a ferris wheel ride is 2 minutes tops, and it’s directly related to safety. A school day is 6 hours long with less than a 30 minute physical break. My daughter’s handwriting is AWFUL and we have spent countless days, even in the summer, practicing her handwriting. It has gotten a little better, but is still illegible in some instances. Her teacher prefers that she types her homework versus writing it. I really don’t see the problem with that nor do I see it as a crutch. Hell, we use keyboards all day long in the adult world.. so when she gets older, she is gonna have plenty of practice.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
12:06 pm

@hoyaRN ~ “I believe ADHD has a spectrum, like autism. Some kids are able to function with boundaries and behaviorial therapy and no meds (like my oldest daughter), but on the other end of the spectrum are children (and adults) who cannot survive without their meds (like my son).”

VERY well stated and I completely agree.

SaveOurRepublic

October 18th, 2011
12:14 pm

“ADHD” is a contrived “diagnosis” that serves as a cottage industry for Big Pharma & their “legalized pushers” (masquerading as physicians). The modern doctors will quickly label a high spirited child as “ADHD”, only to help line coffers.

Wayne

October 18th, 2011
12:21 pm

What if the asignment is writing about something they don’t like?

How about, I don’t let my child on the ferris wheel (or any ride) unless it has a safety belt because I know that he can’t sit still long enough to go on it. Or, not let him go on rides at all?

Setting boundaries and enforcing them is good and all, but what if that child has no concept of personal space?

It takes a good amount of time to diagnose ADD/ADHD – even to where some doctors (ours did) will tell you that it’s a list of (drawing a blank here) activities. It’s not an exact science. Medicine is an art.

The teacher, guidance counselor, pyschiatrist and we the parents, had met several times. We filled out forms. Ad nauseum. The forms were gathered up and we met again. It all showed that he had those activities that were asscociated with ADD/ADHD.

Look, I’m not trying to persuade you that it’s right or wrong. I know, as a parent of a kid who has benefitted tremendously from medicine, it works. For him.

Going to lunch.

DiagnosedADHD

October 18th, 2011
12:49 pm

I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5. I can assure you, it is not something that is made up. By the way, there was what 6 channels on TV and the Atari 2600 was not purchased until later. I did play outside all the time and yet I did struggle, and still do to this day, with my attention. I did not like the medication but it did help me.

firstborn40

October 18th, 2011
12:57 pm

this seems to be a very active and debated thread. please view the pbs offering as listed by gwinnettres and the next time the georgia legislature is in session…get involved with the bill that was introducted to augment the medication of foster chlldren on psycotropic drugs. (HB 23)

http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2011_12/pdf/hb23.pdf

these drugs are dangerous and should not be readily perscribed by doctors or pharmacies, but because we don’t take time to monitor what these professions do; they are able to dx and prescribe at their whim and because we use google to find the latest movie tickets, we don’t use it to research and find out about alternates to medications for our children…not just the ones in our homes, but the ones in our village also.

remember, medicine is not an absolute, that’s why its referred to as the “practice” of medicine. the ama nor the apa are regulated as to the labels they create or the meds they perscribe.

get involved!

Grumps

October 18th, 2011
1:06 pm

For all of you who think ADHD is not a real disease… and I don’t like your horse very much either.

I’ve lived with a child who has ADHD. Actually, ADD is more accurate, since there was no hyperactive component (there often isn’t in girls). We, her mother and I, did not figure this out until she was about 16. Until then, she was smart enough to make A’s and still daydream her way through class.

In high school though, since she’s smart, she takes AP classes. They require focus and she can’t focus. Not won’t – can’t. I’ll assure you.. when I see my child working her butt off studying, come to me and ask me to quiz her on her notes, watch her as she proves she knows the material, then flunk the test the next day – I try my best to find a way to help her.

My best consisted of a bunch of research, conversations with several of my friends who are mds and with other friends who are psychologists, psychologist visits and psychiatrist visits, school counselor visits, meetings with the teachers, meetings with the principal – years of this. Finally we found a psychologist who knew something about how ADD presents in bright girls (and women). With her help and with the help of a psychiatrist (second opinion, you know), a combination of drug therapy and counseling started to make a difference.

Too little, too late. She was a senior in high school when we pulled it all together. She had a great future. Passed most of her AP tests – got a 5 on AP calculus. Off to college and .. guess what.. couldn’t remember to take her meds, no parental backup to remind her and no counseling sessions.

She’s back home now, rebuilding. Back in school, back on her meds, in counseling and I’m starting to see a difference.

So, don’t medicate your kids when they need it. That’s probably child abuse, but they’re your kids. I am now a believer in early diagnosis and early treatment. The younger you start, the more time they have to see the world like their peers do.

I’ve seen the with and without medications versions of standard psychological tests.

Terryeo

October 18th, 2011
1:15 pm

Kids should play! We have set ourselves up with school at 6 years old and university after high school and a solid broad line of activity with hardly any time for play! From birth to 6 years old is the only recognized time where nothing is expected of you, where you can play! Now, Psychiatry is attempting to say, “that is play” and “this is Attention Disorder”. Well, I don’t like it and I don’t think you should like it, either.

Good ole JR

October 18th, 2011
1:16 pm

Shaggy, seriously? these kids were there when you were young, they were there when i was young, while it is NOT a disease, it is a disorder, i have 3 girls and only one has the issue, she isnt Hyperactive, but she does lack the attention span of a child without the issue. She was taking medicine for it for the past 4 years, the issue is as the she grows she builds up a tolerance to the meds and they seem to work less and less, then the doctors up the dosage and it would be fine for a while, then repeat the cycle, well we recently took her off the medecine and we will see how it goes. these kids arent bad, but an earlier diagnosis would have helped.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 18th, 2011
1:31 pm

Shaggy – you’re not viewing it as a disability. You wouldn’t say the same things about accommodations for kids with a hearing or visual disability and it is comparable. Your not going to change your opinion and that is fine. I like you very much and I like having you on the blog. It’s OK to disagree.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 18th, 2011
1:38 pm

should be You’re not — sorry for the typo — I was typing while Lilina was asking for something.

Figment

October 18th, 2011
1:42 pm

I don’t doubt that some children (very few) actually have issues that they need medication or treatment for. I think society uses ADD/ADHD as an excuse to medicate children to keep them “in line”. Just my opinion of course, going by what I’ve seen in my life.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
1:43 pm

@Grumps ~ my daughter was diagnosed with ADD/ODD when she was 6 and I didn’t want to put her on the meds right away. We did cognitive behavioral therapy for about 2 years. Then.. it started.. the interference in her school work and then her grades were slipping and before we knew it she was behind her peers. We put her on the Adderall and it worked for a while, but for a little girl getting ready to enter puberty the emotional crash and the end of the day was just too much for her. We just recently took her off of it and conferences are next week so we will how she is doing with just tutoring and behavioral therapy. I am pretty sure my 6 year old son is ADHD but he hasn’t been diagnosed yet. I am just working with him to see if he is going to outgrown it. I will give it a year and then go from there. Early intervention is key, not just with meds, but with behavioral therapy also.

Wayne

October 18th, 2011
1:54 pm

@oneofeach4me: have you tried any other medicines?

Joe

October 18th, 2011
1:54 pm

ADHD is definitely real, but there are many treatment options in lieu of drugs. Meds should be always be last resort for treatment. And any initial pediatric diagnosis of ADHD should be followed up with a visit to a child psychiatrist for a full evaluation for ADHD and the other conditions that produce similar behaviors. For example, a child might have some sensory processing problems and need occupational therapy to correct them, but many get misdiagnosed, medicated, and never get help for their real problem.

There are so many better treatment options than a ped that just wants to dole out drugs, the ped’s know it, but they’d rather just prescribe meds. Neuro feed back, occupational therapy, and other things can help so much more than drugs. Comes down to cure vs. treat.

In the end, it’s up to parents to get informed and know when to tell the ped and the schools to shove it and demand the docs and schools meet a higher standard for their kids.

motherjanegoose

October 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

Quick check in…did DB actually say she thinks ADHD is a hoax or did she say that she did not want to medicate her son and was not convinced of the diagnosis? Either way, we can still very much be friends as we are adults and it would be impossible for us to agree on everything! IMHO DB is a very intelligent person and she would not be likely to give a blanket opinion about all kids.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
2:02 pm

@Wayne ~ not as of yet. They didn’t seem to want to venture away from the Adderall saying she needed to try it for more than 2 weeks. But she would cry so uncontrollably and get so angry at the end of the night she would have anxiety attacks. I called them about it but never heard back. So I had her ped write me a new referral to a different doctor and we will see what they say. She “appears” to be doing okay, but I can see her struggle a bit.. especially with the math and writing.

Joe

October 18th, 2011
2:04 pm

@oneofeach4me: my son is 7. we’re taking him to a shrink that specializes in children of all ages for these issues. here’s a link to their website: http://www.psycscienceinst.com/

they take a medically based approach and have been successful at getting insurance to pay for a very broad range of testing, diagnosis, and treatment of these sorts of issues. they also are good at getting insurance to help cover the cost as it’s more neurologically based, and therefore medical, as opposed to behavioral. and they have a philosophy of medicating as a last resort. they’ve got actual therapy techniques that will cure ADHD in some children, measurably so by looking at before/after treatment brain waves.

the will also help you work w/ the school system to set up accommodations with the school so your child can best succeed in school. the schools will otherwise take a stance that is easiest on them instead of taking on the harder job of teaching a child that is more difficult to teach in the one-size-fits-all public school setting.

an outfit like this is much better than a ped that just wants to throw drugs at it and has no real idea how to best treat the child.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
2:06 pm

@Joe ~ what exactly are sensory processing problems? do you have any sites that you would recommend for that? My son has always been extremely sensitive to sound, touch and sight since he was born. He would literally scream in the hospital and they swore something was wrong with him. They did all kinds of tests and couldn’t find anything physically wrong with him. He was an extremely difficult child that required touch to be calm and would only sleep in 2 hour intervals until he was about a year old. So I would like to look into this before I go into the psych office just to have more info. My daughter is definitely ADD, but her and my son appear to have different types of issues.

Camille

October 18th, 2011
2:25 pm

During the 3rd week of school, my son’s K teacher talked about his ‘HYPERACTIVINESS.” I put that conversation to rest and quickly told her that he was a 5 year boy who is excited to learn. Maybe the class was boring b/c he knew most of the review work. Challenge him and he may keep still a little longer. In addition, we eat out at restaurants, sit on the front row at church, he attends meetings with me and he is not hyper any other place but her classroom??? I think not.

This is why I am sooo for single sex education at a young age.

Camille

October 18th, 2011
3:13 pm

@ Grumps.. did you rule out dyslexia? My middle daughter was great in class and knew all of the material. Couldn’t pass a test to save her life. Oral exam yes, written no. No one brought up ADD b/c behavioral everything was fine. After a lot of testing, Dyslexia was the answer. You are the parent and you know best. I am just asking the question.

CPA

October 18th, 2011
3:19 pm

Figment – the only person that pressured us to medicate our son was his first grade teacher. I don’t think parents are making the decision lightly.

DB

October 18th, 2011
3:36 pm

To answer several questions: The school and a psychologist tried to diagnose my son with ADD in first grade – he was a boy, and no, he wasn’t perfectly behaved. :-) Now, I am not one who thinks that ADD is a fantasy — one of my son’s friends had a raging case of it. But knowing him, I knew my son didn’t. No one who could concentrate on a Lego set for four or five hours at a time at age 5 had “attention” problems! When I went to talk to my pediatrician, after going rounds with the teacher and a psychologist, I was worried about the drugs effect on developing brain chemistry, and wanted some answers. After doing research, I was also very concerned about the fact that there were certain fields that would not accept someone who had used drugs such as Ritalin. Ritalin is classified as a Class II controlled substance (in the same category as cocaine, codeine, morphine, etc.) At the time, airline pilots could not take Ritalin within 48 hours of flying, and needed a waiver and evaluation if they were regular users as children. The military/Coast Guard will not accept a known user of Ritalin (sometimes after the age of 13) — and who knows what else? What if my son wanted a military career when he got older? I would not have wanted to be the one to take that possibility away from him in a flurry of well-meaning medication.

Serendipity came to our rescue — as we were working with an occupational therapist about the same time on small motor skills (which he was severely lacking), the therapist asked me if he had ever been diagnosed with ADHD. I was at first annoyed, because I thought she was yet another Ritalin-pusher. To my surprise, she told that after working with him for an hour, she suspected that he was sensory defensive, which presents with symptoms very similar to ADHD. I had a HUGE questionnaire to fill out (20+ pages!) and she did two weeks of testing to evaluate motor skills, etc. He underwent a rigorous program of OT for the first six months that gradually tapered off as the treatment improved his sensory reactions. In his case, many of the symptoms mimicked ADD — the restlessness, his frustration level at not working at capacity, etc. (Reading is as much a motor skill as it is a visual skill — the eyes have to be able to track words across the page smoothly). No one could understand how a kid with his IQ (let’s just say it’s been measured in the top 8% on the Stanford-Binet, and leave it at that) could be doing so poorly — this is a kid who was doing square roots in his head at age 7.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_processing_disorder

The results of the OT treatment were rapid and dramatic. Within three months, he was going from being unable to read to reading Hardy Boy chapter books. His classroom behavior — figeting, etc. — improved considerably.

I have to admit — I lied to the psychologist. I told her that he was taking Ritalin, didn’t mention the OT, and sat back to see what effect it would have on the psychologist’s methodology. Sure enough,k in four months, she was exclaiming how much better he was doing on Ritalin . . . that’s when I dropped the bombshell that he wasn’t on Ritalin. She had never heard of sensory defensiveness, and neither had his doctor, but she was impressed enough with it that she got up to speed on it, and now regularly suggests evaluation for SPD (sensory processing disorder) before moving on to ADD.

@oneofeach4me, if you want to contact me through Theresa, I will be happy to give you the name of the therapist that worked with my son, or I can just pass it to Theresa and perhaps she will be kind enough to forward it. You son’s symptoms sound similar to my son’s when he was an infant — a doorbell would set him off! I ended up using a white noise generator in his room when he was a baby, but even that was only marginally useful. You can google “sensory processing disorder”, and there are several websites sponsored by therapists that have excellent descriptions of the symptoms.

As far as disagreeing with MJG — I don’t disagree that there are kids who have ADD. I just knew, fiercely, that mine wasn’t one of them and fought like hell to keep him from being labeled as such. It takes a certain degree of crazed confidence to fly in the face of teachers, psychologists and physicians all telling you to drug your child. Once he got his feet under him, he went on to do VERY well in school and in college. That was my job — to make sure he had the tools he needed to succeed. Life is good — even if his handwriting is still excreble!. :-)

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
3:57 pm

@DB ~ I would really appreciate that. If TWG could forward you my info or vice versa or both… that would be great!! My daughter has ADD so I know the symptoms of it and can recognize it. But my son is different. There are certain things he can focus on.. but if we are somewhere with too many people, too much noise and too much stimulation he shuts completely down. I really would like to talk to someone who will take a deep look at what is going on with him.

@TWG ~ if you would please pass on my email address to DB that would be great. I would really appreciate it. You can also send me hers.

Wayne

October 18th, 2011
4:23 pm

One thing I do wish for is that there were groups around where parents could meet to discuss this sort of thing. We’ve looked and haven’t found anything that we could attend. It’d be nice to talk with other parents, like most of you here, that have gone through something similar. It’s a difficult thing to put your kids on meds, we resisted for a very long time. Seeing the end result though, certainly made the effort worth it.

@DB: you bring up a very good point. No one, I mean no one, is going to advocate for your child(ren). You have to be in the face of everyone you meet to git ‘r done. I get upset when we go to an OT, ped, PT, teacher, anyone, who sees my kid(s) for 20 minutes and professes they know what’s wrong. Who said anything was wrong? Really? You know all about my kid in 20 minutes? No, you don’t.

Keep fighting for what you believe is best for your kids.

oneofeach4me

October 18th, 2011
4:32 pm

@Wayne ~ I agree. Even some of my family members tend to say “you need to tear his but up”!! Why?? Cause he wants to ride his bike outside and it’s hard for him to curb that desire to release energy? Or because he climbs everything? Corporal punishment doesn’t work on him, it only makes him angry. I am thinking of starting a Facebook group for parent’s of Cobb and maybe coordinate once a month meetings or something. When I have it finished in a week or so I will have TWG forward the info to whoever is interested.

Matt Rodman

October 18th, 2011
4:51 pm

Just as most of the folks commenting here ADHD is a grossly overused syndrome, if indeed it exists at all. I am certain that I would have been diagnosed with ADHD when I was young. In a lot of cases a short attention span is a sign of boredom – intelligent children with insufficient outlets. It is a lot more convenient to drug these children this makes it easier on the parents and teachers alike – they don’t have to parent and they don’t have to teach. Notwithstanding this, there are certain extreme cases where medical intervention is needed with severely antisocial children.

Susse

October 18th, 2011
5:15 pm

I think we should give the drugs to the parents so they are patient enough to deal with children.

youdontneedmyname

October 18th, 2011
5:21 pm

I was diagnosed with ADHD at 4 yrs old and got off the stimulants at 18. i gained 60 lbs within 3 months

Jayne

October 18th, 2011
5:33 pm

That’s right pop a pill. That’s what the drug companies want. You’re killing your kids livers with those drugs.

shaggy

October 18th, 2011
5:37 pm

Theresa, and the regulars,

We must agree to disagree.
My story about myself and friends is absolutely true. Maybe myself and my friends are ADD, even to this day (if it exists). If so, I must thank the syndrome for a part of me that I cherish…an adventurous, inquiring, and truly unique point of view, with the experience to match. If I had been drugged by mom and dad, it might have changed everything…and I don’t like the thought of that.
I rather like wondering what is over the next horizon and making a way to get there. The mundane conformity (hey I am gonna coin that one – Mundane Conformity Syndrome MCS – I’ll bet the drug companies are working on the yin for the ADD yang) is just not for shaggy

shaggy

October 18th, 2011
5:41 pm

oneofeach4me,

Get that boy into a rock climbing class at Atlanta Rocks or somwhere in a controlled, properly geared environment, with pro teachers.
It sounds to me like you have a natural there, and if he learns safely, early on, he will never forget it. It becomes instinct.
He will be so tired, he will fall down asleep, and wake up wanting more.

catlady

October 18th, 2011
6:03 pm

Well, I will weigh in on this. I think, even though young children are very active–should be very active- there is a difference between that and ADD/HD. I have been teaching young children (ages 4-12) and older, and I think young children should be helped. It is INCOMPREHENSIBLE to me that someone would deny their child medicine if they need it.

In my area, rather than being OVER prescribed, it tends to be UNDER used. I have probably taught less than 20 medicated kids in 40 years, and quite a few who might have been candidates, but whose parents refused to either have them evaluated or to medicate them. For a truly ADD/HD child, these medications can make or break their lives!

I agree that this problem is a spectrum. Some parents can help their child survive with only counseling/home management, but some kids need more (and many parents are unwilling to make the effort on the counseling/home management). Parents need to know that the first medicine tried may not be the “right” one. Many parents quit after just one type of medicine, using it for a week or two. If your child had cancer, would you just give up like that?

shaggy, I disagree with you. It is a serious problem in the schools, for both the child with the problem and the other children in class with the child.

teach

October 18th, 2011
6:05 pm

If you start drugging your kids at an early age, they are ruined forever. By the time they reach high school, they are zombies who cannot complete thoughts. Please consider using some other means of behavior management.
I think it is ironic that everyone has a fit about spanking kids, but will let them take psychotropic meds. Really? Really?

catlady

October 18th, 2011
6:07 pm

DB–I have taught a few kids with the sensory stimulation problem you describe.

Poor college graduate

October 18th, 2011
6:17 pm

Yes ADHD is a real disease. You can be diagnosed at 2 years old too.

theo

October 18th, 2011
6:33 pm

For God’s sake stop mass drugging! With the ever increasing numbers of defined ’sick people’ more drugs are only going to make problems worse! ‘Treatment’ consists of drugs to mask symptoms with no consideration for the underlying causes. Things are so bad tens of millions are on drugs for everything from diabetes to chronic fatigue/pain (evening news now pushes antidepressants for this!) and we now have dropping life expectancies, the highest healthcare costs in the world with a worlwide rating near 32nd in terms of quality and outcomes. DC thinks more money (health insurance for all!) will solve problems. It is only corporate socialist welfare. Doctors are NOT there to help you. They are there to sell a product or service and are constrained by corporate, government in what they can do and say as well as offer.

Marvin

October 18th, 2011
6:36 pm

It always amuses me how parents who are lucky enough to have “easy” children are so quick to judge others. Don’t criticize until you have lived their life.

I have two kids, one with ADHD and one without, so you can’t simply blame my poor parenting skills. My child with ADHD was obviously very difficult, even from early infancy. For a long time I was in denial about it, but when you see the way he is when he forgets his meds, you realize how much better he can focus and control his impulses when he takes them. Despite the horror stories you read, meds didn’t make him a dull zombie, or give him tics, or stunt his growth (unless you consider 6′2 with size 13 shoes to be stunted).

His case is borderline, and in another life we might have been able to deal with it through therapy only. But I’ve also seen kids who literally could not keep still for even a few seconds, who were constantly agitated, with the veins in their neck standing out. They need help, and dismissing their situation out of ignorance isn’t going to help them.

We did not know about ADHD back in the 50s and 60s. Where are those kids now? True, some might be productive people, but realize that some might also be in prison or dead — or worse, injured or killed someone else. People with ADHD are more likely to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. Is ADHD over-diagnosed these days? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ALL made up.

Objective observer

October 18th, 2011
6:46 pm

ADHD, unfortunately, usually turns out to be A Damned Horrible Devil. That’s the way it’s been in every case I’ve ever seen.

irisheyes

October 18th, 2011
6:54 pm

My son was diagnosed at 4. Trust me, I did not want to medicate, but it was something he (and the rest of our family needed). I cried for weeks trying to figure out how to help him, and nothing we tried helped. I felt like I spent all day, every day disciplining him, and yet he still couldn’t control his outbursts. We started him on the lowest dose of meds we could, and we immediately saw a HUGE improvement. It’s not perfect (and he’s certainly not a zombie), but his life is dramatically better.

To be honest, I don’t even argue with people anymore about whether ADHD is really true. No one has lived in our house, and no one else can understand the struggles we’ve gone through with my son. We still struggle every day to help him cope with his issues, and we work really hard with his teachers to make sure that he is successful at school.

Gunluvr

October 18th, 2011
7:36 pm

There is no such thing as ADHD; it’s a made up condition pushed by pseudo mental health scientists to sell medicines that they get kick backs from to overeducated ignoramuses with little or no common sense.

tjatl

October 18th, 2011
8:06 pm

I’m wondering how many of these kids, particularly those that started displaying symptoms suddenly (as opposed to since birth), received a simple strep test?
Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Strep (P.A.N.D.A.S.) is a disorder whose symptoms include some of those for ADHD (but they usually include OCD and tics as well). Caught early, the cure is simple – antibiotics.
Isn’t it worth ruling out something with a potentially simple solution before contemplating a life of psychotropic medications?
Granted, PANDAS is relatively rare, and may only be a factor in a tiny portion of kids otherwise diagnosed as ADHD. But shouldn’t we give kids a strep test and try antibiotics if it’s positive? If they get better on antibiotics, that could change the course of events for that child.
I’ve lived through PANDAS with one of my children. When her issues started explosively at age 6, our thoughts ran the gamut – are we not being firm enough with her? is it ADHD? is it bipolar? We have a sharp pediatrician who referred us to a sharp psychiatrist who ruled out all other issues before we got the diagnosis. We got our child back with antibiotics.

If anyone has a child suspected of ADHD whose symptoms started suddenly, particularly after an illness with a fever, it’s worth looking into. Other defining symptoms of PANDAS are obsessive compulsive thoughts and behaviors (germs, scrupulosity, counting, etc.), age regression, wetting their pants, decline in writing and drawing ability, separation anxiety, motor tics (throat clearing, eye blinking, hopping, etc.), and rages.

On Tuesday, November 1st, the TV show The Doctors will air an episode about PANDAS.

Ted

October 18th, 2011
8:20 pm

“it’s REAL it’s REAL!”..my husband has it, I has it arrgh!

or rather “I need something to feel sorry for myself so I jump on the fake disease band wagon”

There seem to be a lot of parents that instead of encouraging kids to do their best, feel it better if they classify their kids as “special” with ADHD. It’s gotten to be somewhat a disgusting contest, “my kid is sick” “no MY kid is sicker!”. Usually Republicans/less educated seem to fall for this nonsense.

And oh boy do they get riled up like druggies denied their fix if you state it’s a fake disease.
I was “diagnosed” when I was little with ADHD..until they realized I was born deaf.

Here’s something…grow a pair, take care of your kids without drugging them and be a parent!

My Niece “had” ADHD, she tried to kill herself 6 times, became an addict, and now on streets because my sibling (a loyal Republican-not educated beyond HS) decided the therapist who’s not a real doctor had to be right about her diagnosis.

Julia

October 18th, 2011
8:25 pm

well there is NO recess like it use to be.. went out in the cold or heat rain or shine…. we also was not hyped up on sugar.. also if you got in trouble… at school, your mom beat your ass when you got home.. .end of story

Co-Dependency

October 18th, 2011
8:27 pm

Shaggy – There are no diseases until there are cures for them through the benevolence of the medical-pharmacology industrial complex. Just look at fibromyalgia. Every traditional western doctor denied its existence until a pill came along that not only made it “ok” to diagnose, but made it SUPER PROFITABLE TOO.

There is a continuum of human experience and behavior. Those that do not conform to the “standard” set by those whose goal is to control us are labelled “deviant” and are addressed by either drugs, “therapy”, incarceration, medical violence (brain surgery) or death.

Good job for speaking the truth Shaggy. Those who have complied with the edicts of the state and its worthless enablers in the psychobabble community know what they have done is wrong, but it is easier to attack you. We are what we eat, but it is far easier to give a kid a pill than to look at the crap you just put on their plate.

tracey

October 18th, 2011
8:29 pm

i’m an adult who was diagnosed with add at the age of about 7 or 8. i struggled. i still have the attention span of a gnat, and i have to struggle to be organized. i was on ritalin for a while, and that was over 30 years ago. my youngest son has adhd, but he is able to do pretty well, with behavioral modification. it just depends on the child. i think a lot of boys just are boys, supposedly a 6 y/o boy has the same amount of testosterone as a grown man. they just need to be active. people need to lighten up.

tracey

October 18th, 2011
8:35 pm

@ shaggy, i read what you said about handwriting. i have horrible handwriting to this day. i print, so people can read it. my son types on a keyboard, so we can read it. it is what it is. part of add is handwriting issues. it isn’t made up, it’s real. is it overdiagnosed? probably.

Dave

October 18th, 2011
9:08 pm

There are so many post here, speaking from points of ignorance. ADD, ADHD, is a real condition, and can be seen on brain imaging. There is a deficit/defect in an area of the brain.
Where so many here think that you are doping a child to reduce hyperactivity, the contrary is true. The brain of an ADD child can be “sluggish” and stimulants can help them focus, stay awake, and do this while minimizing the appearance of physical hyperactivity (fidgeting is a tool kids with ADD learn to keep themselves awake and attentive).

You can diagnosed a child at the age of 4, I know from personal experience. It probably was a year or two after the diagnosis before we approved medicating our child,; what a wonderful difference it made. They provide children an opportunity to learn to their greatest potential. Our “child” is just finishing a Master’s degree.

But you should know 40% of the prison population has ADHD. I will bet anything most of their parents were ignorant to the benefits of counseling, medical treatment, and skill building to overcome ADHD, or worse yet, thought they were somehow morally superior because they don’t give into the pressures of “doping” their children. Uncontrolled ADHD will set your child apart from other kids. They will not socialize well, and before you know it they will be behind in school. They will feel isolated. Is it really any surprise so many end up in jail?

coco

October 18th, 2011
9:22 pm

If you or your pediatrician notices that your child is displaying characteristics of this disorder then exploring the possibility of the diagnosis is completely appropriate. Whether or not you “believe” it’s possible to diagnose ADHD at a certain age means absolutely nothing.

I can tell you that my son was diagnosed with this 28 years ago before I even knew what it was. He was my first and only kid and I thought they all acted like that. He was 4.5 when the doctor first mentioned to me that if his characteristics and activity level did not change, that he should be evaluated and then at age 5 he was tested by a psychiatrist. He was indeed found to have ADHD – actually at that time it was termed ADD since hyperactivity was not automatically included in the diagnosis then. He was put on a low dose of medication and without it would have been expelled from pre-school for his failure to be able to function in the classroom. He was the youngest patient in the pediatricians practice, but the need was so great, the doctor thought it was appropriate to try it with close monitoring. The medication actually made such a difference in him that it was shocking – and it didn’t change anything except his ability to concentrate at a level that was appropriae for his age. And of course, he stopped swinging from the chandeliers, starting fires, and running out in front of cars which was also pretty beneficial for him.

And also anecdotely I’ll tell you – I hear constantly how teachers and others are trying to diagnose everyone in sight and pushing meds like candy. That was absolutely not my experience at all. The schools always acted like it was a huge inconvenience for them to give him his medicine (this was so long ago that the sustained release versions of ADHD medications had not been developed yet) and not one time did I ever feel like the schools or the teachers was pushing him to take medication – they pretty much didn’t want to be bothered with it. I had to beg them to help hand him one lousy pill at lunchtime – when the alternative would have been MUCH more trouble believe me. So I never have understood the prevailing view and discussions all the time about being pushed to medicate – I had to push them to recognize his disorder and help deal with it.

mariettamom

October 18th, 2011
10:03 pm

This is a very sensitive issue. Most parents want some form of relief when everyone else is against them and their child for their child’s behavior issues. I know first hand how devastating it can be to get phone calls daily from my son’s school about his behavior when he was 5. No form of punishment/consequences worked to deter the behavior. The private school suggested testing for ADD/ADHD because that’s the symptoms they were seeing. We trusted the school, so we began the process with our pediatrician. Thank God she wasn’t a rush to medicate doctor! She had been his dr since birth and didn’t see any symptoms. She did a consultation and didn’t see symptoms but still referred us to a psychologist for testing. We brought our son’s school work to the psychologist for review and we completed the questionnaire. Again, thank God he wasn’t a rush to medicate dr! He told us that sometimes it’s the environment. He also said that it could be something else, but mimics ADD/ADHD. For example, he had a family that was told their son was autistic. He found out the boy had a lot of ear infections. So he told them to get the boy’s hearing checked. The boy had fluid in his ears and couldn’t hear. Once they drained the fluid, he didn’t show signs of autism. Now this might not be everyone’s story, but it gave us pause to proceed with caution. Our pediatrician, psychologist and speech pathologist all said that we should not rush to medicate to make a teacher’s job easier. Try behavior modification therapy first and then proceed. Our challenge was the private school just knew my son was ADD/ADHD so they didn’t really put any effort in trying the ideas. Eventually, we withdrew our son, because they felt the only way he could be successful was to be medicated. I home schooled him and then was blessed to find another school that had our same values. My son has been on honor roll since he’s been at the school. He has never had serious behavioral issues(just the regular ones from time to time :-) ) So I would tell parents to do research and be an advocate for your child. No parent wants to feel like a failure because of their child’s behavioral issues. We need to be more supportive of each other and share ideas of drug-free methods that worked to help our children. We have to think about the long term effects of these drugs on our children’s brains that are not a cure but a treatment.

Living With ADHD

October 18th, 2011
10:44 pm

For the skeptics out there that believe ADHD is a fabrication, I warmly invite you to walk in my shoes for a week; I’d invite you to walk in my son’s, but he won’t be interested;-) My eight-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD last year and we opted to medicate him. I’m not here to sing the praises of any pharmaceutical company, but rather to comment on his HUGE academic improvement. His major problem is focusing. On a scale of one to 10, he’d definitely be at least a nine when it comes to not being able to focus on getting things done. Another child may be a five or a seven.

Greg S.

October 19th, 2011
12:08 am

Remember, its never too early to start taking mind-changing drugs.

Greg S.

October 19th, 2011
12:12 am

ADHD has always been with us. It has existed under various names but it’s definitely not “NEW”. Drugs do help, sometimes. But the fact is the disease has been over-diagnosed. Its easy to say “He has ADHD, give him the pill”.

ebony

October 19th, 2011
4:09 am

Four years old with ADHD. Kickback for the pharmaceutical companies that is what is boils it down too. Doctors you’re not doing justice for these kids. Stop thinking all children all the same and take time to evaluating each child. Every child is not in one category. The meds you put kids on will do more damage then good.

irisheyes

October 19th, 2011
8:14 am

I will say, that as a teacher, I have more parents coming to me asking if their child has ADHD. My response always is: “It’s a medical condition, so only you’re doctor can dianose it.” If your child’s teacher is telling you they have ADHD, then you need to go talk to an administrator. The furtherest I will EVER go is telling a parent that I see some issues with focusing and staying on task.

I think part of the reason we’re seeing this more and more is the fact that we don’t let kids be kids. They don’t get enough time to play, to move around, to enjoy life. We have preschools that force worksheets and reading on kids before they are developmentally ready. Kindergarten should not be a place where students are sitting all day doing worksheets and pencil and paper activites. Those are appropriate occasionally, but it should not be the majority of the curriculum. Even my 7 year olds need time to move around the room in order to focus.

AGREE

October 19th, 2011
9:27 am

I totally agree – I do not trust this at all. Children should be allowed to be children. I would never look at this age group and put “labels” on them. Heck – I wouldn’t even do it for 6, 7, 8 year olds. Further, the doctors have proven to be way untrustworthy, and so very eager to dole out drugs for these children, you know “help” their pharmaceutical “pals”….And also the schools expect every little boy and girl to just sit still, be quite like little “robots.” Let them be “who they are” and let their personalities flourish and shine creatively, etc. Yes discipline and “redirection” should come into play. Quite often times these children are bored, need more challenges, etc. because they are so bright.

Further, for the medical profession to say they rely more so on “school teachers, nursery school, etc.” – that is certainly what they infer – is wrong. They are trying to cope with 20-30 four, five, six, seven year olds and their attention span with them and patience is tried. In the context of “labeling” children in that atmosphere especially would be the weaker suggestion.

Most psychiatrists need to see a psychiatrist themselves. They are way out there on numerous things and way to “eager” to dole out meds rather than actually help the child….

So – AGREE WITH YOUR ARTICLE – you think?!?!?!!!!!

Dad

October 19th, 2011
9:54 am

Our son was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarden. He is now in 9th grade. We did years with medication and years without. In 7th grade, we decided to not use any medication. The school year was a disaster. Not froma behavioral stand point. he did not get into any more trouble then any other 12 year old. But homework and studying took hours every night and almost tore us apart. For 8th grade, he went back on medication. he came home every afternoon and went right up and did his homework. He could stay focused both in the classroom and after school. We now only need to provide help when he asks versus sitting with him through every asignment. He is confident in himslef, and makes the honer role.

Think what you want, but he now has a chance at a great education where without medication, he would be at the bottom of his class and completely hate school.

catlady

October 19th, 2011
3:18 pm

Let me also note one other observation. Of the kids who are now grown, who I thought were good candidates for counseling/home restructuring/medication, every one of the ones who did not get help have spent time in jail. Every one.

alan

October 19th, 2011
3:20 pm

I don’t know if this is relevant to anyone else, but I accidentally discovered that my ex-wife and daughter (both of whom are ADHD) can see the 60 hz flicker from fluorescent lights with magnetic ballasts.

Switching to full spectrum CFL bulbs with higher frequency electronic ballasts seemed to help because it didn’t overstimulate them.

Not a panacea, but it helped in my family.

Frank Barnhill, MD

October 19th, 2011
8:28 pm

There are many dangers in diagnosing a four year old as ADHD!
As Theresa aptly points out, many four year olds have normal behaviors-increased alertness, hyper-ness, and a tendency toward inquisitiveness and extreme curiosity, and impulsivity-that might be mistaken for the core symptoms of ADHD causing the child to be misdiagnosed as ADHD!
The dangers in misdiagnosing and mislabeling kids in this age group include:
1. The tendency for these kids to be labeled as learning disabled causing bias and discrimination
2. The almost 100% likelihood that the child will be put on an ADHD medication…to quote “see if their behavior gets better” and if it does, then everyone assumes the child has ADHD instead of looking for the real reason for the behavior
3. The fact that over 25 to 30% of all kids started on ADHD medications suffer some serious side effect of the drug-weight loss-abdominal pain-blood pressure changes and even the potential for physical addiction!
Once a child is labeled as ADHD, it’s almost impossible to remove the label and stigma that goes along with the diagnosis. I’ve had patients that were referred to me because they weren’t getting better on years’ worth of drugs, only to discover that weren’t ADHD, but suffered from bipolar disorder or obstructive sleep apnea. As teens, they were literally forced to transfer to a new school to help get rid of the label…transferred with only their academic records…not class notes!
It’s terribly difficult to diagnose ADHD as it is, much less trying to diagnose it in a child who can’t tell you anything about how they feel or relate to their surroundings and whether or not they really suffer a disability at all. It seems to me this would be like practicing Veterinary-Pediatrics instead of logical human medicine.
There are currently in excess of 60 things that can look just like ADHD causing a child or adult to be misdiagnosed as ADHD.
Frank Barnhill, MD
http://www.mistakenforadhd.com

DB

October 19th, 2011
9:41 pm

@mariettamom: Ooooh — see! Something similar happened with my daughter in 1st grade! The reading teacher asked me if I had ever had her evaluated for ADHD, and my first thought was “Oh, God, not THIS again!” My answer: “No, why would I?” The teacher went on to complain that my daughter seemed to have trouble paying attention in reading, had a tendency to gaze out the window, etc., etc. (Why she waited until March to tell me this if it had been an on-going problem, I’m sure I don’t know.) As a result, she had been put on the back row where she couldn’t distract the other students by her inattention. Okaaay . . . By coincidence, my daughter had her yearly well-check two days later. Surprise — she had 90% hearing deficit in one year, and almost 50% in the other ear, due to an occult ear infection (she had been prone to them, but this one sneaked by under the guise of a bad cold a few weeks earlier, and she never complained of her ear hurting.) The ENT doctor drained one ear (yes, it was about as much fun as you would think) and a round of antibiotics did the trick with the rest. The note I sent in to the teacher went something like: “(Daughter) was just diagnosed with an ear issue that resulted in temporary, but severe hearing loss. I can’t imagine that being placed as far away as possible from the teacher has helped her comprehension in class, do you? I strongly suspect that the “lack of attention”: you referred to was actually simply not HEARING you, period, so let’s see how the rest of the school year goes before leaping to a diagnosis of ADD, shall we?”

Again, I’m not claiming that ADD doesn’t exist. But it certainly concerns me how quickly everyone — including professionals, who it seems would be the MOST cautious — leaps to ADD as a possibility. I mean, if I have a stomach ache, I don’t go directly to “Cancer!” as a cause. I figure it’s something I ate, or if it lasts a couple of days, it’s a stomach bug. etc.