Parent Panic: Preschoolers Can Be Diagnosed With ADHD
The American Association of Pediatrics have revised their guidelines so that kids as young as four can be diagnosed with ADHD. They are expanding the range from four to 18, which is a much wider age spread than the previous recommendations of six to 12.
There is no definitive test for ADHD. The diagnosis is still dependent on purely observational means. So I can only imagine that parents all over are now obsessively watching their preschoolers' totally normal behaviour such as repetitively climbing up and down from their chair at mealtimes or running around the living room in circles knocking over the lamp.
The difference, as the Explainer at Slate writes, is whether or not the behaviour gets in the way of their milestones, not that their behaviour is a milestone. That is easy to understand in a rational way, but possibly much more difficult to understand when your child is running around like the proverbial chicken without a head.
I have my own issues with distraction (is that Twitter calling?) which is most likely a mild form of inattention (lacking the hyperactivity component) and I keep a close eye on my kids to see if they do suffer from the "look something shiny" syndrome (as my husband calls it). I also believe that an over-use of parantheses is another sure sign of attention disorders.
The APA recommends behaviour therapy with drugs as a last resort for this age group, which in my layperson's understanding should always be the prescription. I am not a big believer in drugs just for the sake of them. But if ADHD was getting in the way of how my kids were able to function as human beings and we had exhausted behavioural and school therapies...If they were unable to make friends, finish simple tasks and were having no succeess at school, then it is my job as a parent to study every option and choose accordingly.
That said, I love what Dr. Kenny Haldeman, author of the guidebook Attention Deficit Disorder, has to say about ADHD. He would like to replace the word disorder with difference, which is a tacit understanding that people think and work differently. A wise person once told me that instead of being a linear thinker I am a divergent thinker which allowed me to see that the unorganized, distracted, multi-faceted way I think can be seen as an asset.
Dr. Haldemann says ADHD can be a "gift":
Their brains are quick thinking and they often have bad brakes. So their minds zip around really fast and it’s hard for them to slow down, stop and think about one thing at a time. When we can harness that, you can end up with tremendous creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, challenging the status quo. Through history, the people who have made the most dramatic changes in our society are people who looked at the same thing we’ve all looked at and saw it in a different perspective.
I'm not sure that parents of kids with severe ADHD who suffer with the judgments of other parents and possibly the medical community would consider it a gift they want their kid to receive, but the idea that difference is good is one that we all need to take to heart.
Do you think ADHD is over-diagnosed? Would you give your kids drugs if they were prescribed?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about worrying if the school system is failing boys (sort of tangentially related to this post.)