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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

To tell, or not to tell...

Making a decision about whether or not to try medication with your child is often an agonizing process. Once the decision is made, the results can lead you into discussions with a variety of people. Sometimes the effects are so amazing that your only regret is that you waited so long to give medication a try. At other times, the side effects are disappointing or it takes longer than you hoped to get the dosage right. It is only natural to want to talk about these things with your friends and family. The problem is, as soon as you let people know of your decision to medicate or not medicate, the unsolicited advice and commenting begins. Guess what? You are going to be judged no matter what you decide! If you go ahead and give medication a try, you will have people who are opposed to medication under any circumstance and look askance at you for "drugging" your child. If you decide that medication is not the best choice for you at this time, you will have people who are convinced you are cheating your child out of his best opportunity to function successfully by withholding medication. These decisions weigh so heavily and consume our thoughts that the tendency is to talk freely about them with just about anyone who is within hearing distance. It can come as a surprise that others hold such strong opinions about what you should or should not do with your child, and they may hold their positions vehemently. And you will always have people who believe you made the wrong choice. So should you tell others what you have decided about medication, knowing that you will be judged by some and supported by others? I'd say yes, but choose carefully to find safe people who will not blast away at you even if they disagree with the choice you've made. Share, absolutely. Just not indiscriminately.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Overdiagnosed?

I've heard so many people say that AD/HD is overdiagnosed that I've lost count of the number. Most of these people do not have AD/HD themselves, nor do their children. Interestingly, when I looked up "overdiagnosed" on an online dictionary to confirm the correct spelling I found that all the links to this word were connected to AD/HD with ads for articles in the following categories:
Attention Deficit Treatment
Adult Deficit Disorder
Attention Deficit in Adults
Attention Deficit Syndrome
Attention Deficit Disorder

You can check this out yourself at this link:

It would appear that there is a common perception that AD/HD is overdiagnosed and children are being overmedicated today. Yet a recent study by a team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO would suggest just the opposite. Their findings showed that almost half of the children who had a diagnosis of AD/HD are not receiving any medication as treatment. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, July 2006)
It is undeniable that the number of individuals being diagnosed has increased greatly over the past few decades. I think the increase reflects improvement in our awareness of the disorder and a recognition that in today's society the impact of having AD/HD is far more readily apparent than in the past. One great advancement, in my opinion, is the acknowledgement that AD/HD is not exclusively a disorder of childhood. Adults continue to experience the effects of their AD/HD, even though it is more likely to be manifested in unfinished projects, for example, than in the blatant hyperactivity sometimes shown in childhood. For those with primarily inattentive ADD, it is often a relief to be diagnosed even as an adult if the diagnosis was not made during the school years. It helps to explain so much, and points the way to figuring out treatment options. Even adults are sometimes helped by medication, and finding a good support group or ADD Coach can be life changing. Adults with AD/HD often have children who share the disorder, and these parents are eager to help their children to avoid some of the pitfalls they experienced as children.

So here's a new thought: What if AD/HD is actually being underdiagnosed?