According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, five percent of American children have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD), prompting thousands of children to take medications like Ritalin and Adderall. Some parents and health professionals argue that we are too quickly diagnosing ADD/ADHD in children and adolescents. Others argue that the diagnosis has provided much needed help for struggling children. Has the boom in ADD/ADHD diagnoses made our children more focused in the classroom and well behaved, or are we only needlessly over-medicating them?
Some may argue that the current definition of ADD/ADHD is flawed and that the concept of developmental deviance or statistical rarity should be discarded. Because both ADHD and ADD are presumed to be biological disorders, there may be no natural limit to the number of children who could be affected by the disorder and the 3 percent to 5 percent prevalence would not only be arbitrary but also inappropriate.
According to an article written by Gretchen B. LeFever et al. titled “Evidence of Overdiagnosis and Overuse of Medication,” there is no pathognomonic biological evidence of “overdiagnosis” and “overuse of medication” marker for ADHD and no clearly defined and widely accepted ADHD assessment method. This makes it impossible to know precisely how many children are actually affected by the disorder.
We must redefine our methods to identify a standard diagnostic procedure in order to establish the correct criteria for diagnosing ADHD and ADD in children. This is necessary to preventing a generation of over-medicated youth.
Source: The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, vol. 2, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2003)
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