This is alarming:
The number of children being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And families increasingly are opting for medications to treat kids. Two-thirds of children with a current diagnosis are being medicated — a jump of 28 percent from 2007 to 2011.
ADHD is marked by attention problems and impulsive behavior. About 11 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with the condition at some point, CDC researchers found, compared with 7.8 percent a decade earlier.
That’s a lot of kids, but are all of them really ADHD? I have my doubts. Mainly because, to a certain extent, attention problems and impulsive behavior are the definition of childhood. (And I’m not saying ADHD doesn’t exist. I’m saying that it seems to be an overused diagnosis. So, if you want to argue, argue that point.)
The story I’m about to relate is my own, so take it for what it’s worth.
My son was an extremely active child. He was walking at 10 months and climbed (successfully) out of his crib at 14 months. He was a joy and a terror, and I was exhausted. But he was a happy kid with a ton of energy. Preschool is where I first heard the term ADHD. As a new mom, it terrified me. What also caused me alarm was the way the preschool teachers/administrators painted my child as a problem, as difficult, as a kid who needed to be medicated – NOW!
I was fortunate. I had an amazing pediatrician – one who hesitated when it came to medicating kids. I went to him in tears, not understanding what was going on. I remember sitting in his office and him telling me that my son was not ADHD, but that he’d lost count of the number of kids being sent to him by non-medically trained day care providers and preschool/elementary school teachers, nurses and administrators. He called it an epidemic.
I fought this fight to not medicate my son every school year. I always won, but in the back of my mind I worried. How could all these people be wrong? But they were wrong, and I shudder to think where we would be today if I had caved and gave in to their demands – and they were demands. Flat-out, in your face demands to medicate my child. I lost count of the parent-teacher conferences. I was mortified when my son was placed on Scamper Camp probation – for not laying on a mat during quiet time and instead causing a “dance rebellion.” I kid you not. Today my son is a sophomore in college majoring in Mechanical Engineering and on the Dean’s List. Yeah, we’re very proud. And he achieved all of this without medication. He’s actually quite calm – lazy? – today, a far cry from his road runner days! Basically, he grew up.
He wasn’t, and isn’t, ADHD, and my guess is that many kids diagnosed, and medicated, with this condition aren’t either. It was shocking, to me, to discover the number of kids in my son’s, and daughter’s, classes that were being medicated. It’s past time to question pharmaceutical companies and education professionals, imo. In many cases they seem to work in tandem – one has something to sell, the other has a reason to sell it.
That said… I have seen ADHD. My cousin’s son’s situation broke my heart. A sweeter boy you’ll never meet. He simply couldn’t focus – on anything. He’d stand in front of a refrigerator, unable to choose a beverage. His struggle was very real. And while I’m questioning the percentage of kids being medicated, I am not questioning the reality of ADHD. Here’s the deal… if your child can focus on things he/she wants to, and can control impulsive behavior when they want to, then they aren’t ADHD. Watching my cousin’s son’s frustration over things he wanted to do was heartbreaking.
But here’s another thing I’ve witnessed: People having their children classified as ADHD in order to receive extra time/advantages on testing. Yep, I’ve seen this happen four times in my circle. Going to take the SAT? Well, if you’re ADHD College Board will accommodate you…
Some students with Attention–Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are eligible for accommodations on College Board tests.
Hmmm… extra time and other special treatment for those diagnosed with ADHD. And while I 100% support these accommodations for those accurately diagnosed, I have witnessed parents, usually affluent, use ADHD to achieve these accommodations for their children.
What really bothers me, tho… is the fact that we are pumping medication into our children at a young age and for a long period of time – which makes a profit, and probably a life-long customer for the pharmaceutical companies. And I’m beginning to think that’s the point. I’m also thinking that in some cases a drugged child is simply an easier child and, imo, that’s a disservice to kids who actually suffer from ADHD.
Go on now. Have at me.