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eeza 11-22-2015 06:13 PM

Overdiagnosis of ADHD?
I have been working at a high school for a few years and it seems 504 plans are given out all the time for ADHD. Because I am relatively newer to school psychology and to the secondary level, I am wondering if ADHD has always been this prevalent.

I know that the DSM-V has looser criteria, but it sure seems like many kids are being diagnosed. It's very odd considering that many of them can sit through the entire 504 meeting completely still and contribute. <!--eyebrow--> But when they are in class, they are completely inattentive and/or hyperactive according to parents. The kids who have ADHD really have ADHD and it is so obvious.

I am hoping for feedback from anyone who has noticed this (school psychs, counselors, teachers, etc.).

GraceKrispy 11-22-2015 07:38 PM

Sometimes the reports I've read about AHDH diagnoses (from "professionals" have made me want to barf. 10 minutes with the kid, parent interview, TA DA! Diagnosis! Maybe it's better in some other places, but i have had really bad experiences. Or pediatricians who listen to mom talk about behaviors and say "let's just put them on meds and see what happens..." without ever making a diagnosis. HUH??

I strongly believe that a lot of the "inattention" and "difficulty with distractions" that are noticed in class are a combination of difficult/undesired tasks (in a world filled with immediate gratification and video games) along with poor sleep habits. After all, get too little sleep for several days/weeks/months/years on end, and you'll look inattentive, lethargic/hyperactive, be easily distracted, etc. And I have read a few reports on how video games are changing the wiring of the brain (but I don't remember enough to say whether it was quality research or what the exact findings were). I'm not saying ADHD doesn't exit -- it definitely does-- but I think it's relatively easy to get that diagnosis in many areas.

Also, consider this disturbing fact: psychologists/psychiatrists cannot bill insurance without a diagnostic code. So if they want to get paid by insurance (assuming parent isn't paying out of pocket), they must diagnosis the child with SOMETHING. This may not be universally true (please correct me if someone knows differently), but I've been working in clinical settings for the past few years now, and that's been a predominant them in at least 3 different clinical settings. No diagnosis? Insurance won't pay. So I've watched clinicians try to come up with a fitting diagnosis, even if they have to "stretch" to make it happen. It makes me appreciate school psych practice SO much more in some ways- I think we have more freedom NOT to find a disability (although sometimes it makes parents and/or teachers upset).

Anyway, I started as a teacher in 1993 and a school psych in 1999 and worked for a bit before taking several years off with my kids. I returned to education in 2006 (as a teacher again briefly then again as a school psych). There were WAY more kids diagnosed with ADHD after I came back from my "mommy" break. WAY more.

eeza 11-22-2015 08:32 PM

Overdiagnosis of ADHD?
Okay, so it's not just me!

The other thing that really gets to me is that some doctors will state in the letter to the school that the child needs a 504 plan or an IEP. I don't think that's their job to determine that. That's my job! I wouldn't dare tell a medical doctor how to do his/her job.

I have noticed that several of the letters I have recently received from doctors tell the parents to share the findings with the school, which, in my opinion, is much more appropriate.

cardnialteach 11-23-2015 12:24 PM

Agree with more being labeled ADHD
I have seen an increase with the number of students being reported to the school as having ADHD or the number of students now on medication for the same reasons. I agree with Grace when she said some doctors recommend meds before really finding out what is the cause. I know with my own son, we took many different steps before seeking a diagonsis or medication option. I truly believe there are some students that benefit from meds or are truly ADHD, but it should not be used as the scapegoat diagonsis for schools, parents, or doctors.

We have had a few parents request 504 plans for ADHD because they can't get their homework turned in or classwork done at school. In these few cases, it was all on the school and the parents didn't feel they could possibly be responsible to assist at home with these issues. We write very few 504 plans because most of the time, in our cases, they do not qualify even with doctors saying ADHD.

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