Today’s post again comes from a NYT crossword puzzle. Clue 25A: reason to grant extra testing time, for short. Answer: ADHD.
As a parent and educator the answer piqued my interest. I had some vague idea of a controversy regarding ADHD over-diagnosis , especially in the United States, but I didn’t really know much about the condition or its treatment. I felt this was reason enough to do some quick research.
- losing things.
- an unwillingness to perform tedious tasks.
- constantly fidgeting.
- excessive physical movement.
These symptoms seem nebulous. Applying them to myself, for example, could quickly result in a Ritalin prescription:
- losing things >> “Where the #$@&%! are my keys!? I left them right #$@&%! here!”
- not wanting to perform tedious tasks >> Isn’t that why we have tax advisors?
- constantly fidgeting >> My leg is jiggling as I write this.
- excessive physical movement >> I run marathon.
- impulsiveness >> “Did somebody say donuts?”
I then turned to the CDC and learned that ADHD diagnoses have increased significantly since 1997. I found the following chart and, in my opinion, troubling explanation.
The first national survey that asked parents about ADHD was completed in 1997. Since that time, there has been an upward trend in national estimates of parent-reported ADHD diagnoses across different surveys, using different age ranges. It is not possible to tell whether this increase represents a change in the number of children who have ADHD, or a change in the number of children who were diagnosed.
I have four children, and I love them all dearly. I am also happy that they are all now healthy adults. When children are young, they can literally run circles around you. I recall numerous occasions when all I wanted them to do was settle down and quit being so damn rambunctious. But healthy kids are bouncy, active, demanding, and sometimes they plain overwhelm you. This isn’t a cause, however, for medicating them.
I am not the only person who has raised question regarding overmedication. Most notably Alan Schawrz in his book ADHD Nation stated that “more than 1 in 7 American children get diagnosed with ADHD – three times what experts have said is appropriate.”
What do other people have to say? Leave a comment.