Are well meaning professionals saying that boys have ADHD too quickly? Tyler Jacobson explores the question.
When children display certain behaviors, well-meaning friends, teachers and relatives may instantly diagnose them with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Sometimes, this label is the easiest way for people to explain a hyper kid or one who misbehaves constantly. The bad news is that labeling a child or teen with ADHD when they don’t actually have the condition can lead parents and others to ignore other medical conditions or mental health issues that are the real problem.
Doctors work hard to educate parents and teachers about diagnosing ADHD. Hyperactive children aren’t automatically considered to have ADHD. In fact, symptoms vary from child to child, age to age and even from boys to girls. Parents and teachers who think they can spot ADHD without much input from other people in the child’s life are not only misinformed but out of touch with the latest in ADHD diagnosis and treatment.
The truth is, diagnosing whether a child has ADHD takes time. Because there is no immediate test for ADHD, the child’s entire support group must work together to determine what’s going on. Family members, doctors, teachers, therapists and others are all interviewed by the health care professional to establish a pattern of behavior over a six month period in a variety of settings. Often, questionnaires and rating scales are used to help consolidate information. If the child is showing symptoms of ADHD over that time, the doctor may go ahead and diagnose the patient with ADHD and recommend treatment.
Are Doctors Too Quick to Diagnose ADHD?
Many people are alarmed at the increase in the number of ADHD cases over the past decade, claiming that doctors are too quick to diagnose ADHD in children and promptly putting them on medication. However, careful research from such groups as x and x show that the increase in ADHD cases is likely due to more careful diagnoses, earlier intervention and better screening.
If parents suspect their child may be struggling with ADHD or other behavioral issues, it’s a good idea to start taking notes and talking to teachers. After a few weeks of observation, they should make an appointment with the child’s doctor. The doctor will then outline a course of action for observing the child and gathering information from other adults. With a diagnosis of ADHD, many parents feel devastated, but the good news is that the condition can be managed very well and children with ADHD grow up to lead very typical lives and their ADHD doesn’t prohibit them from a normal and healthy adolescence and adulthood.
If the diagnosis is not ADHD, the doctor can help parents discover what is causing concern about the child’s behavior and development. There are plenty of other issues that children experience that can lead to similar symptoms of acting out, losing focus, bursts of emotion and more. Parents can gather a support system to help their child no matter what the emotional, behavioral or mental health challenge.
Photo: Flickr/Bilal Kamoon