Attention Deficit Disorder Is Overdiagnosed Essay

This essay has a total of 1978 words and 9 pages.

Attention Deficit Disorder Is Overdiagnosed

Attention Deficit Disorder is Overdiagnosed

If a child has attention deficit disorder then the child has attention deficit disorder,
but if the child does not have attention deficit disorder, and a person goes down a yellow
brick road to correct the malady under the pretense that attention deficit disorder is the
focus, and the attention deficit disorder medications and therapy are the cure, then do not
be disappointed with the results. Attention deficit disorder is a syndrome of disordered
learning and disruptive behavior that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or
mental disorder and that has several subtypes characterized primarily by inattentiveness,
primarily by hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, or by the significant expression of
both (Webster 11-12-00). Attention deficit disorder is overdiagnosed. Many people
believe that attention deficit disorder is a disease, when attention deficit disorder is really
only a behavior (Hales 120). Children who can not sit still because they are bored are
considered to have attention deficit disorder. Einstein, Ted Turner, and Bill Gates should
all have been considered to have had attention deficit disorder if the diagnosis of attention
deficit disorder is as simple as saying that a child is bored and can not sit still. The fact is
that attention deficit disorder is overdiagnosed and harmful medications used to treat the
condition are overprescribed.
The "Urban Myth" of doctors handing out Ritalin like candy to an abounding
mass of misbehaving but misdiagnosed non-attention deficit disorder children appears to
be true (Baughman 11-12-00). Part of the problem is that the diagnosis is based on
patient history and observation, without any laboratory or radiological confirmation
(Silver 130). Since attention deficit disorder is overdiagnosed, children who do have
attention deficit disorder are left with the difficulty of getting the appropriate treatment
and management they so desperately need.
Everyone needs to remember that all wiggles of small children are not always
symptoms of attention deficit disorder. Anxiety and depression can mimic the symptoms
of attention deficit disorder which is an immense uncertainty (Barisic 11-12-00). Not
only can other conditions mimic attention deficit disorder, but some people would even
say that individuals are trying to medicate away what are essentially normal childhood
behaviors. This speculation is proven true especially for very active little boys.
Over the past few years, the number of children and adolescents referred to
professionals for attention deficit disorder has dramatically increased. Three to six
percent of school aged children are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (Silver
107-108). One to two percent of adult men and women in the United States have been
said to have attention deficit disorder and three to ten percent of children are diagnosed
with attention deficit disorder in the Untied States, with three quarters of them boys
(Hales 338). Not a single one of the five to six million children in the United Sates who
have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder bears unbiased evidence of a physical
or chemical abnormality establishing proof that they are diseased, other than the fact that
the children are normal (Baughman 11-12-00). All children commonly lack persistence,
lack attentiveness, are impulsive, and are constantly restless (Parker 209).
Physicians in the United States misdiagnose attention deficit disorder more
readily than doctors elsewhere in the world (Encarta 11-12-00). Many problems a person
may face mirror the behaviors and diagnosis of attention deficit disorder and it is, many
times, easier just to say a person has attention deficit disorder than look for the real cause.
In short, attention deficit disorder probably has received much more attention than
it deserves in recent years. This extra attention has lead to a perception of over-diagnosis,
which may or may not be based on fact. Parents and teachers should look carefully at the
child before making any rash decisions about labels. Also, individuals need to stand for
children with attention deficit disorder who really do have the syndrome, and also help
those kids who may not "be attention deficit disorder", but are still struggling for
whatever reason.
Teachers around the country routinely push pills on any students who are even a
little inattentive or overactive (Parker 60). Teachers are well meaning individuals who
have the best interest of their students in mind, but when they see students who are
struggling to pay attention and concentrate, it is not their responsibility to diagnose the
child, but to bring information to the parents' attention so that parents can take
appropriate action. The majority of teachers only push pills and do not provide
appropriate information so that parents can seek out suitable diagnostic help. Being on
the front lines with children, teachers need to collect information, raise the suspicion of
attention deficit disorder, and bring the information to the attention of parents. After the
teacher provides sufficient information, the parents of the child need to have a full
evaluation conducted outside the school (Parker 60). In most cases, the "suspicion" is
proven faulty (Parker 61). The symptoms of attention deficit disorder must be present in
school and at home before a diagnosis is made; teachers do not have access to sufficient
information about the child's functioning at home to make a diagnosis of attention deficit
disorder or, for that matter, to make any kind of medical diagnosis (Barisic 11-12-00).
There are a number of unprofessional "diagnoses" being made by people who are
not qualified to make any such medical judgment. Many teachers, parents, grandparents,
and others compare childhood behavior to what they have heard on the morning talk
shows and automatically make the connection that the child must have attention deficit
disorder. Thankfully, these well intentioned but misguided people are not allowed to
prescribe medications.
Children who are under stress or in abusive situations can look like they have
attention deficit disorder. As adults, people learn to more or less compartmentalize their
lives. If adults do not learn to separate their lives, then they at least learn how to fake life
a lot (Parker 93). Children do not have this ability. Trouble at home means trouble for
the student at school. Divorce, illness, or even just the normal uncertainty of childhood
may all contribute to attention deficit disorder-like behaviors.
Some children are being diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder with
insufficient evaluation, and in some cases stimulant medication is prescribed when
treatment alternatives exist (Hales 156). There is evidence of widespread overdiagnosis
and misdiagnosis of attention deficit disorder and widespread overprescription of
medications by physicians. Attention deficit disorder manifests itself in many ways and
may vary with the individual (Silver 109).
Attention deficit disorder is one of the hardest disorders to diagnose. The
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