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ADHD: Who Knows?

Updated on July 14, 2015
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"Right" Knowledge is Empowering

There seems to be an explosion of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) so much to where it looks like every other child has it now. It is no longer clear whether it's a real mental health disorder or just a behavioral label. Most parents wonder whether or not their children are exhibiting the signs of ADHD. While many teachers and physicians are quick to label any active child with ADHD, they are certainly not trained to diagnose the disorder and it is best to seek the diagnosis of a qualified, licensed mental health professional, such as psychologist or psychiatrist. A proper ADHD assessment is the only acceptable method of establishing the diagnosis. Even if a child was diagnosed with ADHD, there is still the possibility that the child may not need medications at all. In many cases psychotherapy is more than enough to support an ADHD child and help him cope with daily routines and school load. For some children ADHD can be generally outgrown because as they grow up the ADHD symptoms disappear. Yet, it all depends on the severity of the disorder. Concerned parents should gain a full understanding of all the facts and controversies surrounding the phenomenon of ADHD so that they may be able to make informed decisions about what is best for their child.

A Little History

The conditions that serve as the basis for ADHD were first recorded by Hippocrates (350 B.C.) long before it acquired its famous name. The behavior’s label was introduced as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD in the 3rd edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published in 1980. The name was changed again in 1994 to Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD to include hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattentiveness to a list of behavioral manifestations initially associated with ADD. Children who are properly diagnosed usually display defiant, aggressive behavior, have trouble concentrating and paying attention and have difficulty getting along with others. Usually, if an adult is diagnosed, they may have had untreated symptoms that manifested from childhood. According to Psychology Today, 5 to 7 % of children are diagnosed with what it describes as a “developmental disorder.”

Gee! Who Knows?

Most children appear to outgrow what was initially considered by most as mere childish behavior that could be curbed through time, discipline and guided structure in the home and at school. But, for some children, the condition, if left untreated, can have devastating effects that can snowball into life-long learning disabilities and more sophisticated behavioral abnormalities. It still remains the very real question of whether ADHD is a true disorder or a collection of naturally-occurring behaviors that are less tolerated in today’s high-demand world. So, given the information that is out there about ADHD, how should these behaviors be clinically treated, if at all? Who would know best? Here are a few factors that should be taken into consideration before accepting a diagnosis of ADHD for your child from any healthcare professional.

Although you may seek out a qualified, licensed healthcare professional for help in battling childhood ADHD, it is important to note that all healthcare professionals, no matter what their area of medical or nonmedical expertise, may not have specific experience with ADHD and its symptoms. Therefore, it is important for the professional that is evaluating your child to be able to recognize ADHD symptoms, as well as discern those symptoms from other conditions that may be confused with ADHD. Several mental illnesses have the same symptoms as ADHD. The most common are bipolar disorder and depression. In such situations, it is important to ask questions and to seek referrals and advice about the best course of action to take in order to prevent misdiagnosis. With a little research, you may come across several online resources (e.g. Help4ADHD.com) to help guide you in the right direction in finding the right health care professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

A Cultural Stigma

African-Americans have a long and rocky history with the American medical establishment. Events like the Tuskegee Experiment and outgrowths of the Eugenics Movement (Planned Parenthood), cause grave skepticism in the Black population concerning the use of legal drugs to control human behavior, especially in children. Noted African-American school psychologist, Dr. Umar Johnson, cautions against the use of what he deems as “dangerous psychotropic drugs” in order to control behavior he views as prevalent in Black youth by the design of historical racial oppression. According to Dr. Johnson, drugs like Ritalin contribute to low sperm count in Black males and over time, exacerbate disruptive behavioral disorders and antisocial behaviors like homicide and suicide. Dr. Johnson supports the use of Behavioral Psychology as a viable remedy for properly diagnosed ADHD, primarily because there is no medicine. Behavioral Psychology focuses on a ”consequence/reward” system which stresses active parental involvement.

© 2015 Dana Ayres

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    • kndashy41 profile image
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      Dana Ayres 2 years ago from Houston, TX

      I'm not sure if diet plays a huge roll in an ADHD diagnosis, but too much of the fast stuff can't be good in any way and can affect mood, as well as concentration in the long run. But, I don't believe to the point where a person would need medication. So, while I am a proponent of eating the healthiest diet possible, I don't think it would make much of a difference in the case of ADHD. I could be wrong...just my hypothesis.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      may i know is ADHD related to the fast food and drinks that had made the child different? I saw a documentary about this

    • kndashy41 profile image
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      Dana Ayres 2 years ago from Houston, TX

      I understand your position completely. I also agree that there are real cases of ADHD, especially within the African-American community, that need to be assessed and treated as any other. However, I added Dr. Johnson's position to highlight the fact that many real cases of ADHD in African-American youth aren't detected or are misdiagnosed because of cultural stigmas...and the neglect swings both ways. Many African-Americans don't seek help for mental illnesses like severe depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD. Often, when mental health symptoms arise in Black youth, instead of being assessed for a clinical malady, they are subject to disciplinary penalties, shuttled into "special education" programs and given mind altering drugs that further exacerbate learning disabilities. Things may be changing for the better these days and I certainly hope so, but when I was growing up in the 70's, I saw what Ritalin did to kids...and this is all before these stimulants were officially deemed dangerously unfit for minors in the 80's. You do the math.

    • John Pokea profile image

      Dr. John Pokea 2 years ago

      I think Dr. Johnson's position is very damaging for African-Americans who seem to listen to him. It become popular these days to be anti-meds and blame ADHD on conspiracy of big Pharma. As a therapist I work with many ADHD clients from all social groups and ethnicities. I can ensure you that ADHD is very real disease and in severe cases it requires medications to be controlled. Many parents decide not to medicate because of all this noise in the media, as a result their children fail schools and colleges and ruin their future.