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ADHD in Children Health Center

When Someone Questions Your Child's ADHD

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3. Too many kids are being diagnosed with ADHD.

ADHD is being diagnosed more now than decades ago, but the reasons why aren't clear.

Today, "there are stringent diagnostic criteria, which are becoming even more stringent," Steiner says.

However, Steiner says that in the past, using previous diagnostic criteria, ADHD may have been diagnosed too readily. "Five to seven years ago, U.S. practitioners were quick to jump on the bandwagon, but that has settled down… We now have better screening and better follow-up treatments."

Another reason for the uptick in diagnoses is that ADHD is better understood than in the past, which makes it easier to both recognize and diagnose. "We notice it now," Salpekar says.

4. It's not ADHD; it's bad parenting.

Wrong again, says Salpekar. "Parents of kids with ADHD are often above-average limit setters, but for kids with ADHD, limits just don't stick." Salpekar says that the notion that ADHD results from bad parenting is an absurdity. "Are diabetes or brain tumors the result of bad parenting? No. So why then is ADHD?"

While being a parent is always a challenge, having a child with ADHD can be especially difficult, "and that burden can make it easy to derail into bad parenting," Steiner says. However, he adds, "Bad parenting does not generate attention difficulties. To imply that it does is silly."

5. ADHD is just an excuse for a child's bad behavior.

Many children with ADHD have behavior problems. "When kids have difficulty concentrating and acquiring academic material, they don't end up at the top of the class," Steiner says. "So, they develop other ways to make themselves special or different, such as by becoming the class clown."

Salpekar reminds parents and others that ADHD is rooted in the brain, and that some kids who have it "can't sit still."

6. What the child needs is discipline, exercise, a better diet, not drugs.

If you choose to engage when someone says this to you, you might think about replying that you're exploring everything that could help your child, including those things.

Wise and loving discipline, exercise, and a well-rounded diet are good for all children, including those with ADHD. But they may not be the whole answer.

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