Parenting with consistent discipline and support can help prevent over-diagnosis of ADHD in children. Sometimes, people think their child is ADHD when the child is still very young, under 5, and shows some symptoms. The problem with that is young children are still developing at very different rates and maturity levels vary greatly. Inattention, distractibility, high energy, disorganization, forgetfulness, fidgeting, lack of patience, and interrupting are all normal behaviors for preschoolers. Unfortunately, a lot of parents decide their children are supposed to be small adults and expect them to act that way. Mix that all up with a touch of misbehavior because there's no consistent discipline in the child's life and you have, what appears to be, the perfect ADHD candidate. When those parents seek a diagnosis, the child is either not in school (so there is no way of knowing whether the behavior happens outside of the home) or the child's school is willing to agree that the symptoms occur because even schools/teachers are erroneously expecting children to act more like adults than children.
We are at a time when a lot of parents just aren't familiar with "parenting." A lot of parents now are the children who suffered the "yuppie" movement in the 80s when parents thought it was best to prove how much they could make their kids do rather than actually raise them. These kids didn't learn that parents need to teach a child how to act, they didn't learn discipline. They learned parenting is all about sending your child off to mini-prep school to prove to everyone how much smarter your kid is than anyone else's.
I am not saying ADHD does not exist. I am saying it's far too over-diagnosed and I strongly believe that a large number of children diagnosed with it don't have it. I'm also not saying that it's impossible to tell if a young child has it - but most people don't have first hand experience with it and just look at the lists of symptoms they see on the internet and believe it matches their child - partly because it does, but they don't know that so many of the symptoms are typical for preschoolers.
I knew my daughter had ADHD when she was around 2 or 3. I did nothing about it except try to teach her how to live with it and how to overcome the obstacles it created. Why? Because if I was wrong, I would not have caused any damage to her - the only effect it would have had is her learning how to deal with situations that were difficult for her. Around the time she was 8, I decided the ADHD was getting in the way of schoolwork - and requested the school evaluate her for the possibility of a learning disability (they turned me down and mocked me because she wasn't hyper enough). After years of going back and forth with the schools, I got her diagnosed on my own. The school still doesn't take her diagnosis seriously, but I continually make their life miserable when they don't account for her ADHD (when I think they should have). NOW... I have a 6 year old son as well. He is very, very, very active. He forgets things, he doesn't follow directions, he acts out, he's impatient, he interrupts like crazy (even at school)! I've heard for years (from my ADHD husband, my ADHD daughter, friends, strangers, etc.) that he has ADHD, too. I wasn't ready to commit to that idea. Yes, he's got the symptoms, but he never showed the signs my daughter did as a toddler - there was always something a little "different" about her. I've set a better, more reliable schedule for him, I work very hard to ensure consistency in my home, I make sure he is getting enough exercise, etc. Sure enough, his "symptoms" have improved. Sure he gets distracted - but it's usually because someone's talking about Pokemon while he's doing homework or something else he deems boring (I would be distracted by that, too). Yes, he interrupts. He's six. Very few kids that age are aware enough of etiquette and their surroundings to never interrupt. He has high energy - but when he gets to walk to school and home again, he doesn't run back and forth through the house for hours. He moves around at a more "normal" pace. He's forgetful - what kid is not going to "forget" to do his chores or to mention he got in trouble at school? Other than that, his memory is iron-clad.
I have an ADHD child. I had a second child who exhibited the signs as well. But when I changed my parenting style, ever so slightly, he seemed to be miraculously cured. So, yes, in a lot of cases, a child who may have been diagnosed ADHD can benefit from a change in parenting. A child who has been inaccurately diagnosed may seem "fixed" - that would imply, of course, that it was the style of parenting - not ADHD - that caused the problems. An ADHD child would benefit from changes, there just wouldn't be as big of a change. Teaching an ADHD child, while they're still young, how to organize (or help keep them organized), how to deal with distraction, how important it is to think of others (and on and on) is incredibly important in helping them live their lives further down the road. My daughter knows she needs to be organized, she has the tools to be organized and I've been teaching her for years how to stay organized. Maybe she's not always organized, but she's more aware of what needs to be organized and how to keep track of things. My daughter is incredibly impatient! But she recognizes when her patience is wearing extra-thin and removes herself from situations that will exacerbate the problem - before it gets out of hand. She LOVES to spend money on silly trinkets and things she'll never want or use again. But she has learned to save money and use it for things she knows she'll want or need. I've been able to teach her some self-control with money - and once in a while, she will treat herself with a spur of the moment whim because she feels she deserves a break from being responsible with money. Oh, and the procrastination is the worst!!!! But, from years of working with her, she can now remember the pain and struggle she has to go through when she procrastinates. Now, instead of starting a school project the night before it's due, she starts it a week before it's due. Not perfect by any means, but a HUGE improvement. I gave her skills to cope with her ADHD - even skills to utilize her ADHD to her advantage. Not every parent can do that and not every child will make progress with it - but it doesn't hurt to try. I'm not laying judgment, but I do have to disagree with you to a certain degree. Some parents definitely need to work harder with their parenting, some need to switch the focus of their parenting, and, yes, some work very hard and nothing changes (but that is far from the majority).
A large amount of parents need to be sure their parenting is all it can be before they label their child and put them on unnecessary and dangerous medications. Suggesting these parents, who are seeking advice, try some changes in their parenting is not necessarily condemning them, it is helping them take the first step needed in helping their child - even if it turns out to be fruitless, then that's one thing they know is not an issue with the child and further progress can be made. While the comments you are upset about can frustrate parents who have been through everything, the fact is that a LOT of parents have done very little except yell, spank, fight, accuse and medicate. Even the ones who have tried many different things often don't realize that consistency is vital. They try method after method for week or two and switch when it's not working. In those cases, the parents need to be guided or they're going to drive themselves and their kids mad. Then there are the parents who pretty much do nothing. They might yell at their kid, they might not. They might punish their kid, they might not. Because ADHD has a lot more to it than just learning "problems", it can be a big challenge if it's not understood. A typical parent wouldn't yell at their dyslexic child (assuming the child is diagnosed) for reading poorly - but a typical parent would probably yell at an ADHD child for not paying attention or forgetting to do something they promised or for being rude or for running around at a funeral. The typical parent isn't going to work with their child to learn strategies to avoid difficult situations. The typical parent will punish a child for doing such things and not think anything more about it. The problem with that is, without learning how to help control the ADHD, the child only feels he's been punished for something he cannot help. This isn't a place, in my opinion, where people are getting on their high horses (for the most part) and telling people they're bad parents, but rather most people here are trying to say, "hey, look... this is something that may help the situation you are in. It may not. But it's worth it to you and your child to make an attempt to find out what is causing the behavior - because when you can find the cause of the behavior, you have a much better chance of finding ways to change it."
I'm sorry you feel unfoundedly criticized. The fact remains that many parents don't take enough of an active role in actually raising their kids. I think when they get advice they've already tried, they either discount it or they offer further information so they can get advice that fits their situation. Every parent's story is different. But, there are universal strategies to try before giving up. They won't work for everyone - but they work for many. If a child is being difficult, they shouldn't be hauled off to the nearest psychiatrist and put on medications first thing, there should be some effort put into finding out what is going on first. A change in parenting style is an excellent first step in this process - and that's why you read about it so often.
Myenzoorka....I understand what you are saying about over diagnosis.
I've been having sleeping issues with my 18 month old...he still does not sleep through the night...even if naps are withheld. He acts like he's the energizer bunny etc.
His pediatrician already wants to label him just because I have it! How idiotic is that?
I'm now taking him to a different pediatrician.
I know this can be hereditary, but at 18 months? Come on now.
I think I'll start with allergy tests on him and go from there. My third one is allergic to blue food coloring and he was hyper as heck until we figured it out. The oldest one was the same and it was due to a milk allergy.
I have seen so many kids (including my 2 nieces...neither one is blood related) that have been diagnosed with ADHD when it's perfectly clear that it's because of a lack of discipline. Neither one gets that at home...neither do they receive any attention.
I knew a lady once who's son was diagnosed with ADHD...I went over to her place on a constant basis and not once did I see him exhibit any signs.
The school however complained constantly that he wasn't sitting still. They told her that she would have to home school him unless she put him on meds for ADHD.
Turned out it was restless leg syndrome...but only after the pills he was on failed and made him very sick did they seek a second opinion. Very sad.
I have lived with ADD my entire life...without knowing what was wrong with me until I was in my 30's. I was beaten up all the time,got the strap in school,at home,etc and I had no idea why.
I was thrilled when they finally put a name to my problem. I refuse the pills because I've been this way my whole life and if people don't like me...poo on them. I don't care. It's just me. lol
To shortyrn....I don't think the others are essentially blaming bad parenting on most accounts (at least I hope that isn't their intention) I think they are perhaps blowing off steam because of the stories like those that I just shared. In quite a few instances it IS because of bad parenting and NOT the affliction at all. Schools get extra funding for special needs children...so they are quick to label.
To those that do not believe in ADHD....go post on some other site please. This is not a site to bash people on...it is for support and questions on the subject. If you don't believe in a disease then you should not try to answer serious questions pertaining to it.
It's like a man posting a statement about women's issues...you've never had a period so I don't believe that you have a right to post about the subject. lol
And why,if you don't believe in it or if you've never suffered from it, would you go to that forum in the first place? Just to bash people because you're bored with your life? Ugh!
It is a true affliction. I never believed in a lot of "diseases" out there either, simply because everyone needs to blame their mistakes on something.
How many kids have been diagnosed with Tourrette's since that one movie came out? Every kid wants to have it because they are "allowed" to swear if they have it.
My youngest brother was one of the first and youngest to be diagnosed in Canada with it...it is a terrible thing. He ticks a lot and is teased a lot. He is now over 30 and he deals with it much better. He does NOT sit around swearing all day like the movie suggested. He takes his pills in the winter and suffers during the summer because you can't be out in the sun while on those meds...
How many kids are diagnosed with ADHD just because mom and dad don't spend time with the kids,so the kids act out at school just to get ANY attention they can get?
So I can see the point of view of these people as well. You tend not to believe in a disease at all just because a great percent of the population uses them as an excuse as to not do things or to be able to do things.
Or perhaps it's not a disease like chickenpox that can be seen?
For those of us that truly are afflicted...all we can do is carry on. We know that only a few people that we meet in our lifetimes will actually believe and understand us...and knowing that 1 person out there does believe and/or understand is enough in my books.
I have a child who is diagnosed with ADHD and mild delayed development. We have organized our schedules at home to give him structure and balance. Afterward he was remarkably well behaved and still is. Unfortunately he just can't learn in a group environment without medication. We did try counseling--we gave him tools to try but he just did not learn. We finally medicated but we keep it secret from our families due to the stigma of ADHD. Soon we will be moving to the same neighborhood as other family members. I know that the truth will come out...I do not look forward to the judgements that many people have. How often have I heard "when I was little we didn't have ADHD--we just got spanked and learned not to actup--have you tried that?" ..
Tanyaluv- I worry about the same thing. My 10yr old son is just starting medication, but already I hear "he doesn't have adhd, he's just a boy" or he just needs to try to "focus". My son is very sweet and loving and I see him starting to feel embarrassed at school, which breaks my heart. I think that even family members can give too much unwanted advice instead of support.
I agree that there is sort of a "stigma" attached to kids that have been diagnosed with ADHD. But if a child were to be diagnosed as diabetic and needed insulin, there is no stigma. In my mind there is no difference. This is a real diagnosis and to not get children help for this is doing them a huge disservice.
My own husband didn't want our son on medication but you know what, he wasn't learning in school, he was raising his hand and asking a question that didn't even pertain to the lesson they were learning, he fiddled with his shoelaces, interrupted, etc. To me I would think that would be more embarassing to our children than have to admit that they are taking medication for a legit disorder. In any event, I medicated my son anyway. He is now 15, has decided for himself that he can go without it and stopped taking it maybe 3 weeks or more ago. So far so good. They learn to adapt. He is a poor reader and he uses context clues to tell him what some words mean. He is an atrocious speller (I should mention he has dysgraphia as well). But these things are minor compared to a child that ends up with low self-esteem and grows up to abuse drugs and alcohol which has been known to happen in untreated kids. And by untreated I'm not talking about medication alone. That is a personal choice. .
Just remind your children they are the same as everybody else, they just learn differently and that is what I would tell family members.