ADHA is the most common diagnosed pediatric problem. It can also be easily misdiagnosed because the symptoms resemble many other disorders.
JAMA Pediatrics published Kaiser Permanmente findings that ADHD has increased from 2.5 percent to 3.1 percent. The causes are unclear. There are indications it may be genetic. Although it is commonly found in white boys, recently African American children (particularly girls) and Hispanic children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Asian and Pacific Islanders remain at 1 percent. The reason for the increase is attributed to parents having access to better health care. Research shows half of children with ADHD seem to outgrow it by their 20s.
Even with these statistics many practitioners like Dr. Claudia Gold do not completely embrace the study. “However, for the vast majority of children who have this label, things are much more complex. ADHD is diagnosed by DSM criteria that define the disorder by symptoms alone. In the clinical setting in which these diagnoses are made, usually with one 50-minute visit for diagnostic evaluation and subsequent medication checks in 15-30 minutes at 3 month intervals, the child's story is usually not heard.”
Dr. Gold feels there are many other factors in a child’s life that can produce the same symptoms.
The DSM criteria has six symptoms
- Failing to pay attention to details, difficulty sustaining attention
- Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
- Avoiding homework or tasks that require sustained mental effort
- Excessive talking
Based on these criteria, many children could be easily misdiagnosis with ADHD. There are 18 possible other reason why a child would display these symptoms. Parents would be wise to seek the help of specialists to determine why your child is displaying these symptoms.
18 other diagnosis for these same symptoms
Too much technology
Technology can grab a child’s attention away from more important things like schoolwork. Children can become distracted with texting, tweeting and long sessions on MP3 players.
"We have super-connected electronically but have been disconnecting interpersonally," says Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of several books on ADHD including "Super-parenting for ADD." "It can be hard to tell ADHD from what I call a 'severe case of modern life.'"
A child who has been bullied by another student or has seen others bullied may fear encounters with those bullies. The symptoms of anxiety can resemble ADHD.
Too much caffeine
Drinking soft drinks and power drinks in excess cause jitters that look like hyperactivity.
"A kid who is 'perfectionistic' may be unable to move on to something else" says Dr. Larry Silver, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and the author of "The Misunderstood Child." He adds it is hard for these children to complete assignments because they are too busy “lining up pencils and making sure paper is in the right place.”
Some children who appear distracted are anxious. Some may suffer from a diagnosable anxiety disorder says Dr. Silver.
Recent research reveals that some kids have trouble focusing because they are too young.
Depression causes behavior that looks a lot like ADHD. Fidgeting and inattentiveness are common symptoms.
Is there a new member in the family? Has a family member or close friend moved away or died? "Stressors" like these can cause kids to seem highly distracted, says Dr. Silver.
An overactive thyroid gland can cause restlessness and irritability. An underactive thyroid can make kids lethargic. Thyroid disease strikes kids of all ages, but is most common in high schoolers, says Dr. Silver.
When a child’s blood sugar levels are askew he/she can appear lethargic or overly energentic.
Inattentiveness is not always a lack of focus on the part of a child. It is not easy for a teacher to discern whether a child is inattentive or suffers from hearing loss. Children with hearing loss may be unaware of their condition.
If the schoolwork is too easy a student may become bored and act out. While the other extreme is also true. If the schoolwork is too difficult the student simply gives up.
Kids with autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger’s Syndrome, are often so focused on the many thoughts in their head that they can’t focus on what’s going on in the classroom.
Drug abuse can manifest itself with similar symptoms to ADHD. Marijuana can make kids apathetic or sleepy. It can also give the child memory problems that makes him appear inattentive.
Side effects of allergy medication can range from sleepiness, inability to focus to the jitters. Carefully read all information related to allergy medication your child is taking and inform the child’s teacher that your child is taking the medication.
Some types of epilepsy cause seizures so brief and so subtle that they aren't recognized for what they are. Petit-mal seizures make it difficult for a child to follow along in class.
Investigate the symptoms cause
As the parent or guardian you know your child better than any teacher or pediatrician. Take the time to get to the bottom of any symptoms. Take your child to a specialist if ADHD is suspected by your child’s teacher or pediatrician. Avoid the danger of your child being place on unnecessary medication.