Is ADHD Over Diagnosed?
Thousands of these ADHD children are being misdiagnosed with the condition. Parents are quick to get an ADHD diagnosis for their antsy child, some of the behaviors commonly associated with ADHD can be symptoms of a different health condition. Health professionals agree that it could be one of many other things: depression, bi-polar disorder, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, or even lead poisoning or chronic ear infections.
Is Ritalin the Answer?
About 1.5 million kids ages 5-18 are on the prescription drug Ritalin to manage their ADHD; the drug's usage is up 250% from 1990. Medical professionals believe that the condition is widely over diagnosed however, and that Ritalin will only make the child's problem worse if ADHD is not the true cause. They urge parents to refrain from jumping on the ADHD bandwagon and regarding Ritalin as the one-size-fits-all answer.
ADHD: the "Benevolent Diagnosis"
Speculation abounds that parents are quick to get an ADHD diagnosis because of it's commonality. Because so many kids have it, it is more accepted and carries less of a social stigma than say, bi-polar disorder. ADHD is nicknamed the "benevolent diagnosis" for this very reason. However, misdiagnosis can be very dangerous.
The Consequences of Misdiagnosis
Like other illnesses, mental illnesses can get progressively worse and more complicated if left untreated. It is crucial that the right diagnosis is reached so that the child can get the help he or she really needs. The treatment for ADHD varies widely from the treatment for depression. For example, ADHD kids are taught to manage their behavior, and this same treatment simply won't work for a child whose true issue is depression.
The Teacher's Role
Teachers are often the first people outside of the family to suggest that a child may have ADHD. The symptoms easily disrupt the order and structure of a classroom, so frustrated teachers may be quick to label it ADHD. However, the symptoms could easily describe many children who may just be rambunctious after recess. Therefore, parents and teachers should work together to establish communication about the problem, and the parents can decide where to go from there.
An Accurate Diagnosis
If ADHD is suspected in a child, parents should have the child undergo a physical exam and neurological and developmental testing. Because ADHD shares its symptoms with many other disorders, it is crucial for doctors to rule out anything else before putting the child on a treatment plan for ADHD. Parents should not simply look for a quick solution or try to avoid the social stigma of a mental illness. Instead, parents should be open to all possibilities and be willing to search for effective treatment for the problem.
After the Diagnosis
After a complete and thorough evaluation a child is confirmed to have ADHD, there are several treatment options available. Behavior strategies, parental and teacher cooperation, and vast amounts of patience will be necessary to help the child manage his ADHD.
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