As a teacher, I have experienced the “ADHD Explosion”. The term has come to be accepted and acquired by any child that has trouble fitting into an educational setting that is not developmentally appropriate for a spontaneous, energetic child. ADHD is over-diagnosed, as well as simply used as a term by lay people to describe any child that has difficulty sitting in a chair in school all day and focusing.[…]
The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance by Stephen P. Hinshaw and Richard M. Scheffler is a science-based book that explains this epidemic where one in nine children in the US receive the ADHD diagnosis and 70% receive medication.[…]
I think this book is essential reading for any family or school dealing with ADHD.
Jennifer Lance, via Eco Child’s Play
Do complex systemic issues cloud the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD? Without a doubt. But they are far more nuanced than a grand pharmaceutical-and-school-driven conspiracy to drug our boys. Books like The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance offer an articulate and thought-provoking perspective on the decidedly shades-of-grey context. I strongly encourage concerned parents to read it.
Sarah Welsh, via Mom Stories
I would like to thank you … for bringing this great misconception that ADHD is not a real behavioral disorder to light and possibly stop these throw away diagnoses!
My son was properly diagnosed at age 11, through trial and error we had finally found the proper medication for him. My son is 17 now and preparing to graduate high school. We mainstreamed him in school, never asking for special recourses. The reason was and still is to see how well he did academically and socially without the public school system being involved. It’s been a long hard road but he has grown in such a positive direction academically as well as in his social life! My philosophy has always been you have ADHD but never let it define you, stop you from doing, trying anything.
I had seen a phrase on your website “The Smart Pill”. Anyone informed about ADHD will appreciate the sarcasm in that phrase, I certainly do. It just so happens my son is and always has been academically intelligent, what his meds help him with is to focus.
Thank you Drs. again, I will be purchasing several copies of your book. One for me and a few for the uninformed, I also will be sharing you FB page.
Elizabeth D., via Facebook
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Arkansas. I spent 3 years or so as a new clinician working in schools and day treatments for children and adolescents. What developed over the years in this state was the overdiagnosis of ADHD just to “get needed services” to the kids and families.
What I, and other peers noticed, is that ADHD appeared to be systemic anxiety related to a variety of stressors from poverty, neglect, abuse or trauma, family problems, etc. So being inattentive and easily distracted, while having some organic basis, was very contextual and environmental. But since they met “criteria” for ADHD based on “behavioral/observable symptoms” they got the diagnosis.
Now, with medication “proven” to be the most cost effective way to treat ADHD, Medicaid requires medication intervention before therapy and then limits therapy sessions. This has to do with money. But there are clinicians who are asking, “How do we get these kids in for therapy to help them if they don’t even have a diagnosis that allows them mental health services?” I hope and pray your voices are heard.”
— Paul M., via Email
As an elementary-school teacher for the past 47 years, I find much of the debate about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder narrow-minded and disturbing. Do I have students who fit the description of A.D.H.D.? Some, and medication has helped them dramatically from their first days of taking it.
But I have lots of kids who just wiggle, who observe and exclaim over things the rest of us miss (such as a new bird at the feeder outside our window or the emerging of a monarch butterfly in our classroom habitat), who would rather stand than sit when they work, who need to take a break from a sustained activity (a drink of water will often suffice), and who are perfectly all right.
We’re not all the same, and traditional classroom expectations fit only some of us, especially when we are young and have less self-control. We need to look not only at our children but also at the setting in which we place them.
Preschool is not the place for workbooks, being quiet and holding still. It’s the time to explore the world, ask a million questions and create a seamless day in which work and play blend into one self-directed adventure.
Young children need a rich and stimulating environment, and permission to bounce around in it. The few who are actually in need of evaluation and perhaps intervention will stand out even in that setting.
– Lynn H., NY Times Opinion Pages
All human behavior exists along a continuum. At one extreme are people who can’t focus more than a minute or two, and at the other are neurosurgeons who can perform delicate brain surgery for 20 hours. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.
The problem in our schools is that overburdened teachers expect active little children to sit still and perform like neurosurgeons, and when they can’t, they are labeled as having a pathology, a disability. These kids don’t need drugs; they need two periods of active outdoor recess every day.
I teach at a community college, and every semester I am faced with kids who turn 18 and take themselves off their drugs cold turkey — not really the best approach, but who can blame them? Then I have the kids who “pop an Addy” (Adderall) every time they have to take a test or write a paper. The third category: kids who throw up their hands at every challenge and say: “I can’t do that. I have A.D.H.D.”
I spend a great deal of my teaching time helping kids develop coping strategies to deal with their very normal limitations. We all have limitations; successful people learn to cope.
– Susan W. H., NY Times Opinion Pages
In many other countries, students do extremely well without high rates of diagnosis of A.D.H.D. or medication for it. Why is this so?
I agree with Stephen P. Hinshaw and Richard M. Scheffler. We are descending a slippery slope that’s about to become even more dangerous with the possibility of universal preschool education.
Too few questions are being asked about the training and suitability of the many new teachers required. Yet teaching preschool is quite challenging, requiring specific abilities and traits less needed for older children. A perfect storm brews.
– Stewart B., NY Times Opinion Pages
Retired child psychiatrist.
I do appreciate that the authors [Hinshaw and Scheffler] aren’t calling ADHD fake, unlike certain other “experts.” But this research sounds striking. I’d want to read the book, obviously, but I do fully believe that there are doctors rushing a diagnosis because they think they’re being helpful, or because they have no formal training in the matter. Hence my regular drumbeat of “general practitioners shouldn’t diagnose ADHD.” It’s frustrating to me because rushed or false diagnoses makes legitimate diagnoses, like that of my son, seem less legitimate.
– via blog “Angry Young Mom“