Mommy Masters welcomes guest contributor, Ali Lawrence, who shares her perspective on such a prevalent topic families are dealing with. 

There is no worse feeling than being told that your child has a medical condition, one that could affect them for their whole life. As a parent, seeing your child struggle can be nothing less than heart breaking, making any solution available to ease their pain becomes an immediate necessity. Oftentimes when children are diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) a daily medication is prescribed to manage the disorder. While this may manage hyperactivity in children, the behavior may not be from ADHD at all, and may simply be a phase or personality trait. As recent research has confirmed, misdiagnosis of ADHD is becoming an all too common phenomenon in the United States, affecting hundreds of thousands of families, mine included.

Two years ago I was given the news that my eight-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with ADHD and that daily prescribed medicine was the only route to manage her disorder. Skeptical of the diagnosis and of the solution, I held off on getting her a prescription, hoping that her bouts of fidgeting and lack of focus in school was just par for the course for a happy-go-lucky, curious little girl. I know I was quite the handful at her age as well.

After doing heavy research on this behavioral disorder and the medicinal solution, I held off on choosing to medicate my daughter for a year from her diagnosis.  As it turned out, a little growing up was all it took for my daughter to grow out of her “hyperactive” behaviors and find her focus.  I later found out that her misdiagnosis is not uncommon, compromising not only a child’s physical and mental well-being, but a family’s finances as well.

According to recent research, roughly 6.4 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD.  However, 20 percent of those children have received a false diagnosis, making medical treatment and in-school supports unnecessary.  The diagnosing of ADHD has increased in the last 10 years by 41 percent, but with much error.  It is becoming more evident that research is needed to determine the true reason for this phenomenon.

According to 12 Keys Rehab’s data analysis of kindergarteners that are diagnosed with ADHD, the youngest students in the class are 61 percent more likely to be diagnosed than their older peers.  This suggests that their free-spirited ways and deficit of attention can be attributed to a lack of mental and emotional, not a behavioral disorder.  This same pattern is observed not only in kindergarten, but also in the youngest students in their grade, who are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, the suggested cure is a daily dose of Methylphenidate, or Ritalin.  While it does help calm and focus a spirited child, it comes with serious consequences, including stunting growth and increasing a child’s blood pressure by 6 percent.  This medication also comes at a very high cost of about $17, 314 to medicate a child until they are 18 years old.  This means that Americans as a whole are paying anywhere between 1.6 to 2.5 Billion dollars annually for Ritalin.  To top it all off, with ADHD’s 20 percent misdiagnosis rate, between 320 to 500 million dollars is being wasted annually on this medication.  Between the physical and financial issues that come from this diagnosis and treatment, ADHD comes at a very high cost.

When I decided against having my daughter take Ritalin, I knew I was taking a pretty big risk.  If she did indeed have ADHD I could have compromised her performance in school and social situations, causing potential long-term problems.  However, medicating my daughter, and all of the side effects associated with Ritalin were daunting enough for me to question it and I am glad I did, because it led to the discovery of her misdiagnosis.  If you are in my shoes and your child has been diagnosed, before resorting to medication, weigh your options, give it time and do your research.  This could save you money and in the end help your child.

Ali Lawrence blogs over at Homey Improvements about DIY, home advice and healthy living. Her daughter and husband keep her busy with an endless supply of happy memories, sports, and dirty dishes. You can follow Ali and her husband James on Twitter @DIYfolks

 

Misdiagnosis of ADHD in ChildrenInfographic by 12 Keys Rehab

Graph courtesy of www.12keysrehab.com

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