Over Diagnosis of ADHD in Children
First of all, what is it? ADHD is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In short, low attention span, high energy. Hmmmm, I think I could use that definition to explain half the kids in the world. Out of all the kids who are referred for a mental consult, 35 % of them are diagnosed with ADHD and given "treatment" (drugs). In the US, 5.4 million CHILDREN (aged 3-17) had been diagnosed with ADHD by 2009. Nearly 9% of all children were diagnosed, I think it is safe to say that that number has increased. That means that one of every 10 children will be diagnosed. Two kids in each school classroom, the class clown no longer exists people, he is doped up with drugs sitting in the back! 5% of all girls had been diagnosed, and 12% of all boys were diagnosed.
How does this happen? At times, the parent becomes overwhelmed or concerned and takes their child in for a consult. However, the most likely scenario is at school or daycare where a teacher or child care worker calls mom and dad in to talk about their "troubled child" and their recommendation to seek professional help for the good of the child and themselves of course. I am sure it is quite clear my jaded opinion. I would like to make it clear that I am not saying that I do not believe ADHD exists. There are some children that border on autism and I have seen such children. However, I am saying that I believe that ADHD is GROSSLY misdiagnosed in our day and age. That any child who is high energy or has a hard time sitting for 7 hours at a desk is just stuffed full of drugs.
What do the drugs do to the children? For a list of the dangers and side effects of ritalin, see the link below. As a teacher, I can tell you the kids that are on medication. In fact, two of my students were not on medication for half of the year and just started their "drug therapy" a few months ago. These kids are emotionally dead. They rarely smile, they are tired all the time, they have a hard time concentrating (hmmm, wasn't this one of the things medication was supposed to treat?), they fumble, they have a hard time remembering things, they don't get excited about anything, they don't get upset about anything. It definitely addresses the energy, they will sit on that chair and not move, how could they? they are too tired to. The two little girls that were recently diagnosed were two of my best students, lower energy then some others that I have. I have no idea why they were pointed towards therapy or how they were diagnosed, but this is a problem. A big one.
Kids that are totally normal are diagnosed. Why? Kids with high energy are told there is something wrong with them. We are telling them to sit at a desk for 6 hours, that is not normal for a child! Then they come home and do hours of homework! A child needs to run and play and just be allowed to be, have an avenue to get out their energy. And a designated hour in PE doesn't cut it. On top of that, we feed our kids junk food, candy, chocolate, stimulants... and then think that they will sit quietly at school. And somehow it does not surprise me that boys are diagnosed almost 3 times more than girls. Because boys are higher energy of course. And instead of putting them to work, or putting them in sports, we drug them up and try to keep them quiet. From an educators point of view, I don't understand it. These kids are harder to work with. Just because they are calm and quiet, does not make them easier to teach. They are harder! They don't interact or engage with you, they don't remember anything, they don't care what they are learning, etc.
In short, I see a huge problem in our schools. Although there are children who genuinely need the help, I personally believe that for the most part, ADHD is often misdiagnosed. How harmful is it to tell a child that their energy is annoying to people, it is draining, they are draining, people just want to shut them up, they are a problem child. Now, of course you would never say this to a child, but do you honestly think that one day that kid won't understand it? Perhaps if they are kept doped up on drugs, you'll have a chance at maintaining that charade. Otherwise, one day that child will clue in and they will be angry and hurt without understanding why. Because no on understood them, or even tried to. We are failing our children, the system, the teachers are failing our children by trying to lump them in a category that can be dealt with quickly and quietly. Before you accept the diagnoses you have been given or act on the suspicions in your head, do the research, make sure that you are making an informed decision. Because true ADHD exists, but it is not nearly as common as we have been led to believe.
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