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Op-Ed: One in ten children have ADHD and have the diagnoses to prove it

By Scott Tuttle     Nov 24, 2013 in Health
According to a fairly recent study, ADHD diagnoses for children between the ages of 4 and 17 years old have risen by 42% in the last decade. If these diagnoses are true, more than one in 10 U.S. children have ADHD.
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed 95,000 parents to find that roughly 11% had children diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). When generalized to the full population, this statistic suggests that about 6.4 million youngsters are stricken with the disease.
For boys, the number is even higher. The CDC reports found that about one in five high school-age boys have been diagnosed with ADHD compared to one in 11 girls of the same age. The numbers also varied from state to state with rates in Arkansas and Kentucky as high as 15% and rates in Nevada as low as 4%.
More disturbing to me than the incredibly high number of children diagnosed with ADHD is the increase in diagnoses. How can it be that ADHD is 42% more prevalent now than it was 10 years ago? This is not a contagious disease. How is it then that we have a rising epidemic for a mental disorder? Furthermore, many of the children being diagnosed are given prescriptions for highly addictive psychostimulants such as Methylphenidate (Ritalin) and Amphetamine (Adderall) with effects similar to that of cocaine. Doctors are handing these drugs out like candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
According to Psychology Today, even experts who previously defended the ADHD diagnosis such as Dr. Ned Hallowel are beginning to question their former judgment. There are simply too many children being diagnosed and the rate is still on the rise.
So why might there be an increase in diagnoses? Perhaps as the average age for our population continues to rise, people begin to have fewer and fewer children, and the cost of living continues to increase making it necessary for adults to overwhelm themselves with work, child-like behavior tends to annoy them more. Many of the things that warrant an ADHD diagnosis these days are things that would have seemed like normal child behavior a few years ago. Had I been born 10 years later, I'm not so sure I wouldn't have been diagnosed as well.
Take for example the changes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The 5th edition has expanded the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis making it much more easy for doctors to slap that label on children who come into their offices. Symptoms outlined in the new DSM-V include often losing and misplacing toys, difficulty playing quietly, and losing one's concentration when doing paperwork. What child doesn't exhibit these characteristics?
Who wins from all of these excessive diagnoses? The parents because the drugs they pump into their children's mouths subdue them and shut them up so they can go back to endlessly working and ignoring their children. The doctors because they earn money from visits. The pharmacists and drug companies because they earn money from drug sales.
Who loses? The children because they have to spend their entire childhood and possibly their entire lives hooked on drugs with effects closely resembling that of crack cocaine. The children because they are labeled as "diseased" for simply behaving as children behave. Finally, the children because their parents continue to ignore them as they go off and hibernate in their rooms in their drug-induced stupor waiting to become adults themselves.
Parents should be concerned for their children. What they are doing is very destructive to their kids' psychological and physical well-being. I'm not saying that there aren't some children who could benefit from some form of behavioral therapy, or perhaps even medication. However, I am pretty sure that the number of kids popping pills like they come from a Pez dispenser should be much, much lower. There is no disease spreading through our youth like an epidemic. The only epidemic I see is lazy parents who don't want to make a real effort at being parents and don't want their kids to be kids.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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