We all know that most children have at least some symptoms of ADHD. So how do you know if your child truly has ADHD or is just going through a typical childhood phase? How do you protect your child from becoming the next over-diagnosed ADHD statistic?
I’ve found some insightful information regarding the ADHD Epidemic. What’s more, I found the causes for the over-diagnosing of ADHD interesting, and more than little scary! According to a recent Huffington Post article titled How Parents Can Protect Kids From the ADHD ‘Epidemic’, there are 3 events that occurred about 15 years ago that triggered the over-diagnosing of ADHD in children:
1. Drug companies gained the right to advertise directly to consumers. (How many drug commercials did you watch the last time you actually watched the commercials and didn’t skip over them?) Apparently, these drug companies then used misleading marketing to convince parents and teachers that ADHD was EVERYWHERE! Those ADHD symptoms in kids weren’t just a normal reaction to being trapped in school all day. No, those ADHD symptoms in kids were a medical problem that could be fixed by a magic pill!
2. Drug companies brought to market new and expensive drugs for ADHD.
3. A study gave the impression that ADHD drugs were more effective than therapy in treating ADHD and that ADHD medication was “safe” for children. All of this compounded to make these drug companies billions of dollars… and lead to a massive increase in ADHD diagnoses in our children!
So while all of this may be interesting, what can parents realistically do to address the symptoms of ADHD in their kids without falling for the drug companies’ marketing schemes?
- First, ignore the extremes. On one hand, you’ve got proponents of ADHD stating that 10% of all kids and almost 20% of teenage boys have ADHD. And there are skeptics stating that ADHD doesn’t exist at all of that the symptoms of ADHD in children are just normal childhood “naughtiness.” As with nearly everything else in life, the extremes are both wrong. Yes, not everyone diagnosed with ADHD actually has the disorder. But likewise, some children genuinely do have ADHD and their symptoms significantly impair their lives without proper treatment.
- Parents need to know that an accurate assessment of ADHD requires comprehensive screenings and repeated interviews with the child and parents and teachers—and make sure that the screenings include information from your child’s teachers. This is one of the most vital, yet most often overlooked components of diagnosing a child with ADHD. Other diagnoses should be considered as well. And the symptoms of ADHD in your children should be evaluated only if they are severe and persistent enough to be considered “clinically significant.” While your child may have symptoms of ADHD, if they aren’t significantly interfering with his life, then ADHD medication may not be warranted. Sorry drug company billionaires!
- Research and ask your health care professional about the possibility of your child having Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Many kids who are misdiagnosed with ADHD actually have ODD, which is best treated with parent training and behavioral therapy—not ADHD medications.
- Understand that most pediatricians have very little knowledge of how to treat real ADHD. Ironically most ADHD medication is prescribed by pediatricians. So ask your child’s pediatrician what his training is in treating symptoms of ADHD in children and what screening tools he uses.
- If you do seek help from an ADHD specialist such as a child psychiatrist, child psychologist, or child therapist, ask them the same questions you would ask your pediatrician. What is their professional’s experience in treating ADHD? What training does they have in treating ADHD? What screening tools do they use?
- If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD and treated in some way, yet still has significant problems in school or with peers, then it’s time to evaluate where you stand.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is the medication being checked and adjusted as necessary?
- Have you sought help for homework or school behaviors from a professional? o
- Have you sought help for your child social skills and peer behaviors?
- Does your health care professional seek out reports from your child’s teachers?
If the answer is no, you need to evaluate your options and possibly seek help elsewhere.
- Get support. Raising a child with symptoms of ADHD is very stressful. Seek out professional help as you navigate through this challenging part of your life.
Behavior Management Coaching helps support parents who have children with ADHD symptoms. We believe that parent training and support can help protect your child from becoming the next over-diagnosed ADHD child. Talk to us today.