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ADHD on a Serious Uptick Among Children

ADHD on a Serious Uptick Among Children

It had been widely accepted that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D.) and Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), while being on the rise, affected only about 4 percent or 5 percent of the juvenile and adult populations in the United States. This reasonably low percentage felt, well… reasonable when dealing with such disorders that impact a person’s ability to maintain attentiveness as well as control impulsivity. There were prescriptions, therapies, and a laundry list of things to avoid while addressing the particular needs of this small percentage of the population. But now this small percentage has apparently ballooned to more than double, if not triple, of what was previously estimated.

According to new data from the CDC, about one in five high-school-aged boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade,” as reported in The New York Times.

While boys make up the lion’s share of those with the diagnosis, rates for girls have been on a marked rise as well. Many critics of such findings see this uptick as a result of over diagnosing the disorder, as well as over-medicating the symptoms. And the likelihood is that even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the very near future because the American Psychiatric Association has plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D. to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment.

To be clear, an A.D.H.D. diagnosis (same goes for A.D.D.) is wholly subjective, and there exists no definitive test that lands you with a clear diagnosis of any sort. The diagnosis is determined by speaking with patients, parents, and ruling out any other possible causes. Such diagnosis not only label children, but also set them up for a course of medications to modify behavior.

While some see the rise in such diagnosis as a positive sign toward widespread treatment of a disorder that used to be largely ignored, others view it as too many bad calls and the rampant and increasing medicating of our young people. Are we jumping to conclusions that may not serve our children in the long run? What message are we sending to our children when we meet adversity with a label and a bottle of pills? Where do you stand on the A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. controversy?

Related:
8 Ways to Treat ADHD Naturally
Diet or Drugs? Treating ADHD Kids with Food

Read more: ADHD, Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Family, Mental Wellness, Parenting at the Crossroads, Teens, , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

60 comments

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5:44AM PST on Dec 3, 2013

Please sign my petition
Train teachers and staff on ADHD . A presentation plus following sessions for more discussions and questions or information
-
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/support-teacher-staff-training-adhd/ or type ' adhd ' in search

11:30AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

I'm a parent to a pre teen boy with ADHD. Life at the moment is real hard for him and it breaks my heart too see him like this . No matter what, he is my boy. I would give anything not to have him on meds but right now he needs them. So be it. I refuse to be judged or made to feel bad for doing the best thing for my son.

5:41AM PDT on Apr 15, 2013

ADHD is diagnosed too quickly nowadays... Of course there are many children who really have ADHD, but many adults (and parents) are very quick to suspect ADHD in a child who is just very active. A bit more tolerance for childrens´ energy would be good.
Also, many chemicals in food make children hyperactive. Rather than directly giving them medication while maintaining their unhealthy diet, it would be beneficial to first try switching to a healthier, more natural diet before taking medication.
And is it true that some chemicals calm kids with ADHD, while increasing activity in kids who don´t have it?

11:07AM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

I was diagnosed with ADHD not as a child, but last year while I was doing my Master's program. As an adult, I'm no longer very hyperactive, and I've never had significant problems "sitting down and paying attention," but it's always been difficult for me to finish written projects within a deadline.

The university where I did my undergrad allowed more flexibility with projects, as long as I spoke to my teachers about it and made the necessary arrangements, but the one I did my Master's at did not. Without the diagnosis, I probably wouldn't have had the degree by now. And no, I didn't pay anyone to make a false report! The testing for possible learning disabilities was free and had begun the year before (Canada: good medicare, but often long waits.) I also had a doctor prescribe me Vyvanse for several months, but I didn't see any significant benefits.

My view - based on mine and others' experiences - is that more flexibility in education systems would be a big help to those with mild to moderate ADHD, though medication should be used if it helps, especially in more severe cases. Exercise is also very important!
And finally, since in many cases hyperactivity goes away as kids grow up, such measures would not be coddling people who are "unfit for the workforce" !

9:01AM PDT on Apr 12, 2013

My dad was ADD and so am I. I had two of my five children diagnosed, one ADD and one ADHD. It has existed without a name for many years. Our doctor had us do a family tree. Both of my sons had been medicated to help while in school. I opted against and learned to work around it. Mt children are adults now and are learning the type of careers that embrace their learning styles and strengths.

2:32AM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Increased diagnosis means more awareness of problems met by our children, especially at school. This doesn't lead necessarily to more drugs. My boy took some for a while and told me it was like beeing in a "chemical cage" and we stopped.
Additional diagnosis to the level of 11 pc can build a major cause to change.
What is more important is increased benevolence from people in charge with children and a change in pedagogical tools like using mind mapping.
This can be beneficial for all pupils, and eliminates the label that sticks on difference.
These children are very creative, loving and successful when they reach higher grades.

9:24AM PDT on Apr 7, 2013

In agreement with Maggie K.

1:04AM PDT on Apr 7, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

12:01AM PDT on Apr 7, 2013

"Rates of ADHD have tripled in the last 15 years -- precisely because many kids are being diagnosed with fake ADHD to make them eligible for medications and/or extra school services. What used to be a $70 million dollar/year market in stimulant drugs has rapidly ballooned to $7 billion/year under the pressure of aggressive and misleading drug company marketing to doctors, parents, teachers, and patients" Dr. Allen Frances, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, 46 years in Psychiatry

"...no child identified as ADHD has been so labeled because they met a medical standard that confirms the existence of a specific pathology connoting disease. Can’t happen because no such standard exists. As hard as it may be to accept, the words of retired neurologist, Fred Baughman, Jr., are nonetheless absolutely true: “ADHD is a total, complete 100% fraud.” Dr. John Breeding, Psychologist

"There are no chemical deficiencies and no parts of the brain that are smaller (in people labeled with 'ADHD'). ADHD is no more than a name we give to problematic hyperactive, impulsive and distracted behavior" Dr. Laura Batstra, Psychologist

"(psychiatric) drugs work by harming the brain" Dr. Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist, 39 years in Psychiatry

1:19PM PDT on Apr 6, 2013

First of all, it's significant to be able to identify whether this disease is, indeed, increasing or was not recognized in the past.
The next thing to comprehend is, what is different in today's life that may be causing this possible increase.

Lordy, lordy! Could it be the mass influx of chemicals in our environment?
It certainly isn't if you ask Big Business. Beside, they could care less, as long as the dollars keep rolling in.
Don't let anyone tell you that the wealthy running Big Business are Christians, because MORALS are nonexistent with this group. We are pawns in their pawn shop.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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