ADHD Everywhere ?

Updated on March 13, 2010
L.L. asks from Granby, CT
21 answers

I may get a lot of flack for this question. Does anyone else think that ADHD is getting way over diagnosed and starting to be an excuse for parents who have children who are out of control or even just high energy? What is bringing this to a head in my life is my nephew has been labeled as an ADHD child. I spend lots of time with him and think he is just a very active child and likes to test boundaries. He is at my house a couple days every week and knows and follows the rules with gentle reminders. My son is the same age and by nature is just a laid back kid. I am ready to scream at the thought of my nephew being medicated so he is easier to "deal" with. It breaks my heart thinking that his jovial, out going, enthusiastic approach to life is considered a problem. I was just wondering if any other moms have the same thoughts. Thanks.

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So What Happened?

I did not post this question to offend anyone, although I knew the nature of it may. I do not doubt that ADHD is a real disorder. I am sure that children who do in fact have it, may need medication in addition to other management tools. My point is that I believe that many children are being misdiagnosed. I spend more then a few hours a week with my nephew and find it hard to believe that he could turn this behavior on and off depending on his location. The diagnoses was indeed made from questionnaires filled out by his parents and school teachers. Before I would feel comfortable with any of my loved ones being put on medication, that affects the way their brain works and essentially who they are, I would like a little more concrete information then a multiple choice questionnaire. A good start may be to stop feeding them bowls of sugar for breakfast and not expecting them to sit still for longer periods then I as an adult could.

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A.M.

answers from College Station on

I agree, doctors are just trying to make money so they slap a problem on everyone! If it's not this its that! I know a boy who really has ADHD and he really is over the top but I also know another little boy who has been medicated for it and he is just an active child who loves to explore! If an expoloritive child who like to run around and have fun is ADHD then hell both my kids, myself and a whole lot of people have it and I will by no means medicate my active child just to calm her down!

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M.B.

answers from Boston on

I don't have any expertise or first-hand knowledge of ADHD spectrum conditions. But I do have a high-energy 3-year old boy and I do sense a tendency in others to wish for more placid children. I think his energy is great. It will be interesting to see what he encounters when he gets to first grade.

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N.S.

answers from Dallas on

I thought the same things about my child.
I am not even going to have her tested after talking to my thearpist.

Its normal and the parents need to get a grip on parenting and help them selves so they can help there child.

There is no reason to put pills in a child to calm them down. Most children are full of energy and are hyper. That does not make them a problem child.
That does not mean they are ADHD.

I am not going to have my child lablel. Because its a label that will stick with them forever.

ALOT OF PARENTS ARE LAZY AND DON'T WANT TO REALLY TRULEY TRY AND DEAL WITH THE CHILD. ITS NORMAL BEHAVIOUR!!

Sorry, I just recently went through this myself and was doing research and I 100% agree with you. They are just slapping lablels and pills down there throats so parents don't have to deal with REALITY!

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L.B.

answers from New York on

There are all kinds of conditions which are misdiagnosed this is not exclusive to ADHD. ADHD is a neurological disorder with the core symptoms of restlessness, distractibility and impulsivity, and short term memory problems these symptoms must be present to such a degree that they cause major problems in the life of the child or the adult being diagnosed. ADHD is not diagnosed based on behavior problems there is a list of criteria that must be met. It would be hard for someone not directly affected by the impact of this disorder to understand the devastating effects that it can have on a persons life. The medications used to treat ADHD do not "cure" behavior problems. One of the things the medications help with is activate a part of the brain (the frontal lobe) which is underactive in patients with ADHD. Once this part of the brain is activated the person is able to concentrate and helps improve short term memory which is often a big problem for people with ADHD. Often children with ADHD do not respond to behavior modification programs because they forget the instruction that was just given to them and they have no impulse control because nerve impulses in the frontal lobe are not firing off the way they should . The medication helps them by activating the frontal lobe. Parents who have kids with ADHD who happen to also have behavior issues have to work just as hard if not harder than any parent who has a child without ADHD and behavior issues even if the ADHD kid is on medication. People who do not have ADHD and develope traumatic brain injury to the frontal lobe can exhibit same symptoms as people with ADHD, because ADHD is a neurological disorder.

Furthermore, ADHD is highly hereditary. One theory that it is so prevalent in the USA is: People with ADHD tend to be highly creative, intelligent, risk takers. When the explorers left Europe to find a new land, what type of people would venture off to the unknown? Risk takers most likely people with ADHD, our ancestors.

To clarify another myth regarding medication: My husband has ADHD, my son age 11 has ADHD and My daughter age 8 has ADHD. They are not misdiagnosed. My son has inattentive type adhd he has trouble with short term memory, he is very distracted and disorganized this has a great affect on his life not only in school but at home and in social situations. My son does not have any behavior problems and yes he takes medication and once he started his life changed in ways that you will never imagine. At age 11 he came to me and said thank you mommy for not giving up on me.

On the other hand, my daughter also ADHD has the hyperactive/impulsive type with a lot of behavior problems, she does not take medication. We tried it and it is not the right treatment for her. We manage her ADHD with other types of modifications. There are many treatments for ADHD and what is right for one child may not be right for another.

Please don't ever judge a mother for doing what she feels is right for her child. Getting an ADHD diagnosis is not a relief. It is a life time sentence of everything being more difficult for that child. Parenting a child with ADHD is twice as hard as parenting a child without ADHD whether they are on medication or not.

One other thing, if someone does not have ADHD the medication won't help. Rarely do people with ADHD become addicted to their medication. People on pain medications have a far better chance of addiction.

Sorry to get on my soap box, I am just very passionate about this subject as I have come across many people who do not have the background knowledge regarding ADHD judge parents and their decisions regarding their children and their ADHD diagnosis. And yes, at times it is misdiagnosed as is everything else. I was misdiagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis when it was actually a back problem.

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K.B.

answers from Houston on

My son was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 4 1/2 (totally different from ADHD, but hear me out). Every year I meet with his teachers to discuss his needs and all I hear is that he is a wonderful boy, very bright, needs very little direction, a joy to have in class. I don't dispute any of this but inside my son is suffering from extreme anxiety (but he's too afraid to show it or tell anyone). Everyday after school we have a huge meltdown because he has kept his anxiety inside all day and it has to come out. He tells me about different "issues" he has had at school and when I discuss them with the teacher they are unaware that it happened because of course he didn't say anything to them. When new people meet my son for the first time and I mention Aspergers they always tell me, wow, I had no idea.

Here's my point, when you only see a child for a short period of time once in a while it's easy to dismiss certain things as being normal or if you only see something once it was just a fluke. When you live with a child with issues you are able to see these issues as actually having a negative effect on their lives and their progess and you want very much to help them.

I don't doubt that there are children out there who have been diagnosed by one doctor and if they were taken to another may not get that diagnosis, but it is wrong to judge a child or the parent of that child based on occasional observation and your own preconcieved notion of what a NORMAL child is like.

As a former teacher I have spent time with children with ADHD and there is a marked difference between these children and other children. Their issues cause them problems in school both academically and socially and it's unfair to not treat their problems just because a person thinks "hey that's just the way they are."

I believe that all parents should do whatever helps their child succeed and live a happy life. For some children medication works and it makes all the difference.

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M.G.

answers from Oklahoma City on

As a mother of a child on the autism spectrum and who also has ADD/ADHD I have to restrain myself from getting on a soap box when I hear comments like that. This is a true diagnosis and it affects how the child recieves sensory input from all around him. Its not that a parent is "lazy" or "just doesn't want to deal with the child"...that is simply not true. I will also admit that it wasn't long ago when I myself had that same mindset...and that was before I ever had my daughter. Having the child with you for a few hours a day a couple times of weeks isn't really giving an insight to what goes on at home. These kids have triggers that will set them off. Different stimuli and different environments will set them off. Check out autismspeaks.org...there is alot of information regarding ADD and ADHD diagnosis. This diagnosis is on the autism spectrum, but just because you have the diagnosis doesn't make you autistic...I'm in no way saying that. But read the facts, and look into the information before you make a judgement call. And for the person that said there is no test...yes there are tests and no not only pediatricians read them. These are also given out by other health care providers and all of these people are trained on how to give them and how to interpret them. Did you go to medical school? Pediatricians and other health care providers and those in allied health are constantly having continuing education and they are trained to recognize early signs and symptoms. If you read about the early indicators, even a parent can realize what is going on with their kid.

Autism and other diagnosis that are on the spectrum are diagnosed with the help of parents. And believe me as a parent of a child with autism, the last thing any parent wants is to have their child labeled anything but "normal". A parent is the only one that knows their kids the best. I have done and will do all that I can to help my child adjust and to have a quality of life that she can enjoy. And if getting an answer such as Autism or ADD/ADHD helps me to find resources to help her improve then so be it...medication included. I used to now want to do meds, but when I saw how she was able to calm down and take in what was going on around her and enjoy it and be able to learn...then I was all for it.

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K.F.

answers from Salinas on

Hi- I absolutely agree. You're right I'm sure there will be lots of people who do not ;) This is not to say that there aren't kids out there who have these types of problems and they are real but honestly I find it hard to beleive that as many kids as I know that have been "diagnosed" really have a condition. I think it has a lot to do with what we expect now of your children. MANY kids (especially boys) just don't have the attention span to sit still for the length of time they are expected to in grade school. I also think in many cases kids don't have the chance to just go wild anymore. When we were kids we'd just disappear after school and on the weekends. We'd play unstructured games, ride bikes, build forts and just be as expressive and wild as we wanted. Nowdays there are parents controlling everything, from the classroom they go to the field for team sports where they have to pay attention to an adult. After that it's sit still for nightly homework, honestly sometimes I wonder when they get a chance to just be children. Kids need to expell a lot of energy to be still and if they don't lots of them go a little crazy. If I had a kid that was having a hard time concentrating medication would be the very last resort. I too think it's so sad that so many children are taking drugs daily. Have your inlaws done EVERYTHING else besides medicating? Have they reasearched diet, exercise, family history etc? Maybe see if you can talk to them in a non judgemental way about all the alternatives to meds and whether or not they could avoid such a drastic fix. Good luck, I can imagine the idea of your nephew being subdued with medication is kinda sad.

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A.C.

answers from Cincinnati on

I agree that this is WAAAY over diagnosed. My brother was diagnosed with ADD when he was in high school, back before we really knew what it was. That he had problems focusing was VERY apparent in school. It was during a time when many teachers just labeled children like him as "bad," and so increased awareness about this problem is a very good thing for my family. It has helped my brother lean coping skills, and has explained why he has had problems over and over in school without being "dumb."

However, my nephew was just diagnosed ADHD - and he's 3 years old. Excuse me, but I think most 3-year-old boys have an attention deficit and hyper activity, and it doesn't mean that they have this disorder. After spending time with this child, I honestly don't even understand where the diagnosis came from - he seems like a normal toddler to me. However, as long as parents go to doctors for help with normal kid behaviors, it will be hard to detect the true cases from those that are just overwhelmed parents. It's sad and you can recommend the child's parents get a second opinion, but if they think he's a problem child, chances are they'll be relieved to grasp at anything that means it's "not their fault." Sorry, and good luck.

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

An interesting book for you to read Last Child in the Woods

I feel we are seeing a lot more ADHD and other biological disorders because of how much we have changed children's environments and diets in the last 50-60 years. Children used to just run around outside most of the day when they weren't in school. Schools all had recess and active time (now many don't). Diets are full of artificial dyes and other chemicals thatt our bodies were never designed to handle. We eat WAY more processed sugars than ever before. My own son was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (which can have overlapping symptoms with ADHD and with the autism spectrum. We had great success with OT bbut it was mostly successful because it taught we how to adjust his physical environment to better meet his needs. We also have to watch his diet careful and make sure that processed foods are at a minimum and he eats mostly foods in their natural state. Anytime he has red dye #40 we start to see a whole different child (not a pleasant one, either).

I agree with posters who say you really can't know everything about how your nephew functions in different settings but you can open up a conversation where you just listen to your sibling explain how and why the diagnosis came about. Who did the eval? Why was the eval initiated? I think that more and more people are getting thorough evaluations done by medical professionals but I also believe that most medical pros underemphasize the changes diet can make. Good luck, but tread carefully.

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J.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

There is NO test for ADD/ADHD. There are only "surveys" given to the parents and other adults who are around the child and are reviewed by a pediatrician. The pediatrician DECIDES if the child has ADD/ADHD. There are always going to be the doctors who over diagnose and the doctors who under diagnose.

After teaching elementary, I believe that there are true cases of ADD/ADHD and that SOME children do need medication. I encourage all parents to do their research and tap into ALL of the resources available to make the best decision for their OWN child. I would also agree that most children who are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are incorrectly diagnosed and that they should NOT be medicated.

I urge you to talk to your sister/SIL about how he responds to you while he is at your home. Ask to fill out the "survey" (Connor's Report) as well. You didn't mention how old he was and if he was in school or daycare. Other adults should weigh-in on this and not just from one parent.

Good luck and remember that we can only really parent our own children. We can only make suggestions to others. They have the final say. :)

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N.W.

answers from Dallas on

Yes it is everywhere. I like Dr. Kenneth Bock's book Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, Asthma, ADHD and Allergies. It is good information about what is happening to our kids. 1 in 91 or 1 in 110 (depends on which study you believe) is now being diagnosed with autism. ADHD is on the spectrum too. Both are treated similarly, and you don't have to use drugs. Removing food additives can help many. Research those 36 vaccines our babies get too. I'd also look into sensory processing disorder. Also consider that preschool and school age children in public schools are expected to sit still and wait for a large portion of the day. It has been this way in schools for a hundred years but some kids do better moving around.

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G.B.

answers from Tulsa on

True ADHD is a biological issue, not a behavior issue, the brain is firing off randomly and the child has no control over this at all. There are many tests that a doctor can do to determine if it is an actual case of this or not. Are too many kids being put on meds that don't need it? I am sure the answer to that question is yes. If a child is struggling with basic school work because he can't concentrate on one thing for more than a few minutes then an evaluation for ADD/ADHD is neccessary. The doctor in my town uses the meds in a way I hadn't seen before. He recommends they get a pill before school and then another during the day, they are really small doses, and then nothing after school, the med is only given during the time the children are in a classroom setting. Some kids never outgrow ADD/ADHD and that's why so many adults still have it.

One thing a friend told me to try at home with my daughter was to put my hands on each side of her face so she couldn't see the stuff in the room, ask her to look at me while I talked to her about something, if her eyes could not be still then she needed to be evaluated. I was to do this over a period of time, maybe a week?, at different times of the day, in different situations, etc....

Her little eyes just twitched away and she couldn't look at me for more than a few seconds at a time. She didn't go on meds because of my stubborness to not accept the diagnosis. She struggled the whole time she stayed in school until she finally dropped out at 15.
Here are some links that go over the symptoms:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_signs_symptoms.htm

http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/ast_oneadhd-children

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A.H.

answers from Washington DC on

L. I am with you. There is no doubt in my mind that there are kids that have ADHD and they have been properly diagnosed and medicated but I also think that there are a huge amount of kids misdiagnosed and overmedicated . Years ago, when a good student acted up in class he/she was tested to see if he/she is bored in class because they are actually gifted. These days the kid gets a pill. So sad.

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A.M.

answers from Hartford on

I totally agree... don't even get me started :) The medication is dangerous and deadly and causes kids to use drugs as teenagers. It also medicates away their personalities and joy for life... if you've ever known a medicated child you would see it. I'm a doctor and I've done alot of research on this... if you look at the symptoms of ADHD they are just normal childhood behavior! Also the same checklist that is used to determine if a child has ADHD is used to determine if a child needs to be placed into gifted and talented programs in school (the school gets extra money for ADHD kids but not for gifted kids). Parents and teachers use the meds to make their life easier... shame on them!!!!

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J.H.

answers from Boston on

HI L.
ADHD, Autism, Aspergers, High Cholesterol, Diabetes...What the heck are we doing to our next generation. They are now expected to be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents...
Doctors don't study nutrition--(I honestly didn't believe that-until my DR told me !) only their drugs-and how to fix a problem-not prevent it. If you read this website-it is scary how many people (at the encouragement of their Dr's and Nurses) are medicating (and as you mentioned-overmedicating) their babies..
We are nutrient depleted. Please look into nutrition. I have many friends that have had great results with kids and avoiding meds. My son decided he was ADHD at 20. He was put on a med that was so highly narcotic-that it had suicidal tendencies-especially in Young men!!-as a possible side-effect. He took it for two years-I then found a food supplement that he now takes-no more drugs and finished his last two years of college with straight A's and no illness.
People need to think for themselves-not just listen to others-no matter who they are.
Sorry for the emotion-but it is frustrating to see what has been happening.
J. H

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B.F.

answers from Bangor on

They were treating my 13 year old for adhd and after 8 med changes in 1 school year, I took her to a new dr. and she's diagnosed w/a mood disorder w/anxiety,so for people that have kids w/"adhd" it's my advise to you,to get a second opinion.It never hurts for another opinion.

L.A.

answers from Austin on

You are right this is your opinion.. A friends mom once told us "Do not make judge of other peoples children and their parenting. You do not know how your own children and grandchildren will turn out."

There are more people finding they have learning and behavioral differences, but please do not judge others. I have known my husband since he was 13, He once overheard his parents ask a doctor if he was retarded.. They just could not get him" to be like other boys".

Being diagnosed was shameful back then, so people did not talk about it or just ignored it. Many children suffered because their parents were not able to face the truth.

Finally when my husband was about to enter middle school, he was diagnosed as ADHD.. He will never grow out of it.. As and adult it takes a lot of his energy to stay ahead of it. There are things he just will NEVER be able to get.. Time, dates, choices. He is not willing to take medication. He feels it will prove he is deficient.

I think since we can now diagnose more is now known when there are problems. I also think that since Aspergers, ADHD and other learning differences are inherited, there are more people marrying each other with this in their genes. In the past these people would have been a little bit out cast.. Now they run major computer and internet companies and are more appealing and have more access to each other, Guess what, they have children and it all continues to grow..

There is a difference from being and out of control child and being a child actually diagnosed by a professional.

E.T.

answers from Boston on

Hi L., Bravo to you for having the guts to say it out loud! I totally feel the same way. Yes, there are some children with legitimate & severe ADHD and may need some medication to help them in school, etc. However, I absolutely agree with you that a huge majority of children today simply need stronger and more consistent discipline at home. I have experienced the same thing that you mentioned; i.e. children not behaving well in front of their own parents but behaving very well at my home (when parents are not there) because they have learned what is and is not accepted at my home. One of my grandchildren has just been diagnosed with ADHD, and I have asked my daughter to begin with proper nutrition including Shaklee's all-natural Mighty-Smart supplement (designed to help them focus) along with their all-natural children's vitamins. Medication should be a last resort and not a convenience to everybody around the child. Thanks for speaking up. Best Wishes. E. Taft [email protected]____.com www.emilytaft.com

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L.B.

answers from Boston on

As a former teacher, I can whole-heartedly agree. And heaven-forbid you tell a parent that their child seems to have trouble focusing, or calming down. They immediately either get mad that you are suggesting they medicate their child (I have NEVER suggested that and have only seen rare cases where I think it's necessary) or say that they've been asking the doctor to medicate and he just won't. For SOME kids, meds do help. Sometimes it's almost miraculous. They suddenly have a glint in their eyes and look at you as if to say, "Oh, is THAT what you've been trying to get me to do all this time?" More often than kids who need medication, I saw students who needed clear guidelines and RULES. Children actually do thrive with rules, limits, expectations, and consistency. I have no idea where your nephew falls, but I would bet you're right and he doesn't need meds as much as he needs structure and follow-through. I'll be right there with you offending people. Let's see how that goes!

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J.W.

answers from Boston on

Does anyone remember seeing or knowing about any of these conditions 40 or so years ago? I am 55 and I never heard of any of these conditions until my own children were small and they were born in the early 70's. I went to parochial school and I cannot remember even 1 child having any of these problems. Not 1. But it was common knowledge that the kids in public school were a bit more "disruptive".

But as someone already wrote, we burned off that energy being outside pretty much all the time if we weren't in school. So what is going on? Haven't they recently debunked the notion that vaccines were causing some of these problems? So if not that, then what?

I don't know, I don't understand why this is happening now. All I know for sure is it wasn't happening when I was a child. I feel for all of you young parents these days, you seem to have a lot more to deal with now. And a lot more to worry about.

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G.D.

answers from New London on

No flack here! It is tiring to see people get that for asking a question though. |
My son is diagnosed with severe ADHD and YES, I completely think it is WAY over diagnosed. The severe part that they add in there...to me means actual ADHD. I do believe it exsists but like you said, it is who they are. WHY MEDICATE THEM. I allowed the school to push me into medicating and had psychologists and DRs tell me he needs to be on it to function in a classroom. I can see how in a classroom it is a problem more than anywhere else. Yet, after a big fight with the school my son was put into the right class where there were extra teachers in there, not just for him and he's doing great. I finally got a DR to take my kids despite not taking new patients, after hearing our story. The others were thinking add more medication after knowing the one he was on was wrong for him...making him have major depression issues. (And your right, that's what the meds do, take away from who the child is) I told this new DR my husband had done some research and we have him on a natural medicine and he's doing very well. It's not even an ADHD or "calming" medicine. The DR suggested keeping him on that and removing all other perscribed medications from his routine. For over a week now, he's gotten rave reviews from school. The funny thing is, they have NO idea he's not on meds. He's not having issues that the school insisted the change in medication would help...like they know.
So I hope my story gave you a little something to refer back to if you plan on talking to your nephews parents. Also health food stores have great natural medicines for children who have ADHD or are being labelled it. Pedia Calm is something we used for my son before the school insisted he needed more. We found it a great natural med. Then getting enough Omega's is a big thing. There are tons of easier, healthier and safer meds out there for all kinds of issues. The perscribed stuff is a narcotic! The DRs wont tell them that! I only found out because of the pharmacy refusing to call the DR over not having the exact dosage we needed. That's a scary word for an adult let alone a small child.
Keep in mind that your only Auntie and can only try to give info as best as you can to help them make a better educated decision. It is Mom & Dads decision in the end. So do what you can to inform them and calmly express your concerns without making them feel as though your angry or upset or frustrated with this all and it will be heard with open ears.
Feel free to PM me with any questions if I left you with any.

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