Family Journal takes issue with the new ADHD Diagnosis recommendation by the New American Academy of Pediatrics. Their treatment guidelines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder say ADHD can be diagnosed in children as early as age four, and that Ritalin and similar drugs are an appropriate treatment even for those youngest kids with persistent symptoms when behavioral-management strategies don’t work. Many ADHD medications are only approved by the FDA for kids aged six and up, but physicians can use them off-label if they wish.
Family Journal believes many caveats should be considered when diagnosing ADHD in such younger aged children. For example, "behavioral management strategies often fail to work for emotionally disturbed or depressed children. Before deciding on a strategic intervention, how about a proper diagnosis? Children who are actually suffering from childhood depression or who are emotionally disturbed do not act like depressed adults do. Instead, they may be irritable and over-active. What a shame to misdiagnose their true conditions with the ADHD label, put them on Ritalin, then ignore the true cause of their “ADHD-like” behavior. The correct prescription, such as family therapy for a dysfunctional family producing emotionally disturbed children will not be prescribed and things will worsen. A “definition by exclusion” is the appropriate way to go. Once all the other possible diagnoses are ruled out, then try the ADHD option.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S.has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Bpath Mail Form.