“I need to write my… I wonder what’s for lunch?”
This statement demonstrates the distracted mindset of someone suffering from the overly common disorder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD or ADD. ADHD is a disorder where people tend to have problems staying focused on tasks, or get bored easily of certain tasks after a period of time. ADHD is a common condition that affects children and adolescents, and can continue into adulthood for some. Adults with ADHD may have difficulty with time management, organizational skills, goal setting, and employment. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addictions. It is estimated by The National Institute of Mental Health that 3% to 5% of children have ADHD. Some experts, though, say ADHD may occur in 8% to 10% of school-aged children (3). ADHD has been a highly controversial topic over the last couple years. Some of theses controversies are the legitimacy of the disorder, over diagnosis in young children, the medication prescribed, and the causes of ADHD.
Through all of the controversies hovering around Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the most highly talked about is the legitimacy of the disorder. This is largely due to the fact that the diagnosis is primarily applied to children and is being used to prescribe psychoactive drugs to children. Most children who are diagnosed by standard methods with ADHD are identified because they are performing poorly in school and are considered by their teachers and/or parents to be disruptive and distracted (2). Neuropsychological testing has determined that most such children have a lower capacity to regulate their own behavior and to focus productively on mental tasks. In our society these deficits produce measurable harm in that such children do poorly in school, and end up in a lower socioeconomic status than their peers (3). It comes down to the fine line of what is considered “normal” behavior for a child, because as we all know children tend to be more hyper the younger they are and tend to have a smaller attention span then older children and adults. Where do we call that fine line to end? The other argument that disbelievers have is ADHD not having a set of guidelines and regulations when diagnosing because not one doctor is the same person and may categorize a child’s behavior different then another doctor might. There has to be some sort of set boundaries that each doctor has to go by in order to make the correct diagnosis.
The second highest talked about controversy is over diagnosis. Some believe that over diagnosis typically refers to children who are diagnosed with ADHD but should not be. These instances are termed as “false positives”. However, the “presence of false positives alone does not indicate over diagnosis” (1). There may be evidence of over diagnosis if inaccuracies are shown consistently in the accepted prevalence rates or in the diagnostic process itself. There is also evidence of possible differences of race and ethnicity in the prevalence of ADHD. The prevalence of ADHD dramatically varies across cultures despite the fact that the same methodology has been used. Some believe this may be due to different perceptions of what clarifies as disruptive behavior, inattention and hyperactivity (1). It is argued that over diagnosis occurs more in well-off communities, whereas under-diagnosis occurs more frequently in poorer and minority communities due to lack of resources and lack of financial access (2). It is further believed that the “distribution of ADHD diagnosis falls along socioeconomic lines”, according to the amount of wealth within a neighborhood. Therefore, the difficulty of applying national, general guidelines to localized and specific contexts, such as where referral is unavailable, resources are lacking or the