ADHD is a physiological disorder marked by symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity resulting in a significant functional impairment in MORE than 1 setting. For instance, if a child’s impairment is only evident in the school setting, and nowhere else, then a diagnosis of ADHD is inappropriate. In this example perhaps a Learning Disability would be a more appropriate diagnosis.
The CDC estimates 4.4 million kids ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD by a healthcare professional, and as of 2003, 2.5 million kids ages 4-17 were receiving medication treatment for the disorder. These are staggering numbers! Is this an accurate portrayal of the prevalence of this disorder, or are the numbers inflated by inaccurate diagnosis by medical professionals who do not have a background in mental health?
Prescribed medications for ADHD can be extremely effective if prescribed appropriately by a Psychiatrist, however ADHD medication for kids who DO NOT have ADHD could possibly be harmful both physically and emotionally. It is extremely important that a child be evaluated for ADHD by a Psychologist familiar with the proper testing protocols used to assess this disorder. Psychological testing for ADHD is critical because it helps to rule out other disorders with similar symptomprofiles to ADHD. For example Learning Disabilities, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD and other anxiety and conduct disorders share similar symptoms with ADHD but are actually vastly different disorders with completely different treatment protocols.
Effective treatment of ADHD often includes medication but also incorporates many other services. It is important that all of the major players in a child’s life be included in the treatment plan. For example, a child’s school needs to be aware of the special accommodations that the child may need to be successful. The child’s teachers should all be aware of educational techniques that serve to maximize the child’s shortened attention span while not bombarding him/her with content. Most importantly parents need to be aware of how ADHD specifically impacts their child so that they can effectively tailor their parenting style to suit the child’s unique needs. Consultation with a mental health professional can help a parent to coordinate all of the necessary resources while also forming new, effective parenting strategies.