Over-diagnosis of ADHD and my response
The latest hype amongst ADHD is the recently publicised article around children starting school too early which leads to misdiagnoses of ADHD.
As a parent of a child living with ADHD who has now become a coach and advocate for this condition, I would argue that there is no need to create a new storm around this diagnosis.
Will all these articles and studies being done about ADHD…. for example: the misdiagnosing of ADHD, the overmedicating for ADHD, the causes of ADHD, the suggestion that ADHD never existed in the past, even make a difference?
Why aren’t more articles being written to help people understand ADHD, to provide the support we can give our children living with ADHD, the support we can give our parents raising these children and in general, whatever things that can be done to support these children to grow up to be the best children that they can be.
I can tell you the reason, it’s because THAT is boring! It doesn’t create controversy, it doesn’t create talk.
I have read the findings that are published from the Medical Journal of Australia. The Australian study from the 23rd January, 2017 referred to, was comparable against 4 other studies, 3 in North America and one in Taiwan. However, that said, Australia’s study was only done in WA and does not consider any other states. Straight away this isn’t a true indication of the greater Australia.
The relevant study doesn’t identify what portion of North America and Taiwan were studied so we don’t know if they did this as a country or on in certain regions of the countries.
That said, how much of a real comparison is there?
In addition, the prescription of medication for ADHD rates of 1.9% were in line with Taiwan at 1.6% whereas America was 4.5%, 5.8% and 3.6%, so I would say in comparison we are minimal. Their concern seemed to be about children being misdiagnosed and therefore medicated for ADHD.
Another point that I would like to comment on was the assessment that boys were medicated more than girls. Again, this will only cause worry for parents of boys. Of course, more boys are being medicated for ADHD than girls because the number of diagnosis in boys is higher than girls, that isn’t a valid point.
From my perspective as a parent, it seems that the studies don’t reflect what’s really happening in the entire country. The one mentioned was studied in WA alone, so it doesn’t reflect Australia as a whole.
In most states, it seems that if you wanted to hold your child back from starting school and you had a good case for it and it are backed by specialists then you would probably have good grounds to do so. (However, from what I understand in the article, it doesn’t seem you have the right to do this in WA).
One thing that did really concern me was the fact that they spoke about parents ‘wanting a diagnosis’ so that they would get funding with the NDIS. Really! ADHD on its own, isn’t even covered by the NDIS and what parent REALLY wants an ADHD diagnosis when there is so much stigma and judgement around it?
The last thing we need is another story that has people feeling ashamed to speak about ADHD. I work with many parents who are just far too uncomfortable to tell their families, let alone their friends or anyone else, that either they or their children may live with ADHD. The reason I get is “people will judge me”.
It is horrible and my breaks my heart that people feel so isolated. Anyone affected by ADHD, whether it be themselves or their children, need support!
If a parent is ashamed of their child living with ADHD, how on earth will they have the courage to speak up for their child? How are we supposed to support our children to grow up unashamed of this label if we are?
The more ‘studies’ that come out and are given a negative slant on ADHD the harder it makes it for anyone affected by it.
It HAS to stop and articles looking at the positive supportive things on ADHD need to be released. We will always have the negative articles but we need to combat those with positive ones too.
These kids have the potential to be amazing but if they are constantly judged for their label, how can they be?
After all, it isn’t their fault that these kids have received this label, half the time it’s because they are ‘out of the box’ and their thinking doesn’t fit into the school system. This can frustrate them to no end and, therefore, create problems, so they need the label (or sometimes even the medication) to help them fit in (for the school).
Maybe we should be looking at the school system instead of the label. I believe that most teachers are doing the best they can but the school system it makes their job a hard one to help these children to the best of their ability. But that’s a story for another time.
My advice to everyone about these articles is; read them if you must but take on board what you need to (if anything), if you don’t agree with it, just drop it and walk away, don’t take offence, if you agree with it, great but don’t judge others for not agreeing with it. Everyone has an opinion and it is not up to you to judge whether that is right or wrong.
You know if you are a parent with a child living with ADHD that you are doing the best job you can, don’t let stories like this get you down. Talk to as many people as possible about ADHD when you are ready. The ONLY way this will be more accepted is to talk to people and help them understand what it is. You will be ready eventually and it will make it easier on all of us.
Take care, you are doing a great job!
Paula is an ADHD coach, parent advocate and author who is passionate about helping parents with children living with ADHD and changing society’s opinion on ADHD. Paula is available for speaking events also.
Tagged ADD, ADHD, BEYOND THE MAZE, diagnosis, medication, MISDIAGNOSED, support