ADHD is often over-diagnosed in boys, and under-diagnosed in girls.
According to a study by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, nearly nine percent of children in the United States meet the medical definitions of ADHD. But some experts are concerned that too many children are being diagnosed with and treated for ADHD before other issues are ruled out. Other issues can include hearing loss, dyslexia, and even giftedness.
Because ADHD diagnoses are usually based on observation of the child, it is possible that the behaviors seen during observation have a different source. Symptoms of ADHD that are most recognized at school include: not listening, not finishing classroom assignments, disrupting other students, and inability to sit still. While these issues definitely point to a problem, there are other possibilities to consider.
Hearing loss: Studies show that approximately 11% of children have some type of hearing loss ranging from very mild to profound. Symptoms of hearing loss are can be evident when a student has trouble paying attention, doesn't finish classroom work, becomes easily distracted, and can be disruptive to other students in the classroom.
While there is no test to run for ADHD, it is possible to test for hearing loss. Some doctors even advocate mandatory hearing tests as part of an ADHD diagnosis. Treating even mild hearing loss in someone with ADHD symptoms, can alleviate the symptoms enough to less or do away with the possible need for medication.
Dyslexia: Dyslexia is a learning disability, but is not the result of below average intelligence, or poor sight or hearing. Dyslexia is a disability that is mostly connected to problems with writing, reading, and spelling. While this may seem very different from ADHD, it is the coping method of the child that causes the issues.
Children with Dyslexia are more likely to become frustrated and have low self-esteem, which can lead to becoming disinterested and disruptive in the classroom. Like hearing loss, a child can be tested for Dyslexia. While having Dyslexia is not ideal, one should note that this diagnosis is not the end of the world. There are many successful people who live with Dyslexia. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly 40% of British self-made millionaires were Dyslexic.
Giftedness: Children who are gifted in educational areas often have many of these same problems in the classroom. Underachieving, disorganized, disruptive, emotional, disinterested in details, frustrated, forgetful, and prone to daydreams are all characteristics of a gifted child. Children who have these characteristics can easily be mistaken for ADHD.
Gifted children often become bored with classes that are taught at a pace too slow for them. In their zeal to finish one subject and move on to the next, details are often missed or ignored altogether. Gifted children also tend to have low self-esteem as well as an inability to make friends their own age.
ADHD does exist. Many children suffer from the disorder. However, before parents allow their child to be medicated for the disorder, it is in everyone's best interest to make sure that all other diagnoses are ruled out.
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