TAY: ADHD–Overdiagnosed? Early Diagnosis?

Welcome to the third installment of Talk Amongst Yourselves Week. Today we’re going to read a post from Debateur at Debateur Debates. She is one of my favorite blogs to read because I get to spout off my opinion everyday on whatever topic she’s chosen to offer up for debate. You really must check her out and leave your own opinion on her posts. Debateur recently held a discussion about the age at which children are diagnosed with mental illnesses, specifically ADHD. Is two years old too young to diagnose a disorder such as ADHD? Read Debateur’s post and tell us what you think.

How Young Is Too Young?

Today’s debate focuses on the optimal age to diagnose mental illness in children.

Several years ago I happened to be in a support group for young Moms and their children. There was one 2 year old boy in the group who had recently been diagnosed with ADHD and placed on medication. I may be wrong but to the best of my knowledge these medications are not tested on children.

In a nutshell an ADHD kid is someone who can’t sit still and never seems to listen or follow instructions. These kids may also blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times and may be referred to as troublemakers. Sometimes they are even criticized for being lazy or undisciplined. (summary of ADHD link)

The whole thing just got me wondering how one could differentiate between ADHD symptoms and normal childhood behavior especially at the age of 2 ?

Today’s questions are do you think that 2 years old is too young to make a diagnosis of ADHD if yes what would you consider an appropriate age and if your child was diagnosed with ADHD or another mental illness at what point would you consider medication ?

Wow! So what do you think? Answer these in your humble opinion (unless you are a doctor who actually knows the numbers). Are we diagnosing this disorder at too young of an age now? Is ADHD over-diagnosed? Is medication issued too readily leading to over-medicated kids? Talk amongst yourselves!

Published by NotSoSAHM

I'm a photographer and homeschooler Dream = travel blogger. We move around every couple of years. That's fine, I love seeing different parts of our great country and the world. Great things: Jesus, traveling, photography, eating, sewing, scrapbooking, reading, shopping...not necessarily in that order.

13 thoughts on “TAY: ADHD–Overdiagnosed? Early Diagnosis?

  1. Vicki – I have to agree that two years is probably a little too young…especially for something like ADHD – it’s tough to differentiate between “normal” kid stuff (hyperactive, etc) and something more. Plus, their little minds are just whirring at that age trying to absorb so much so quick. Our experience taught us that 3-4 is a good range to get them evaluated if you’re just not sure…by then it becomes a little more clear if it’s outside the normal realm – but still early enough to get them the treatment and help they need to be successful.

    I don’t know about medication – that’s an individual choice based on circumstances. With Ryan, we’re trying therapy and intervention as opposed to medication (it’s our last resort). So far, he’s responded well…but again, every child is different and each parent (hopefully) acts in their best interests and not use medication solely to make the parent’s lives easier.

  2. It seems to me that the very definition of a 2 year-old IS adhd–that much bigger kids somehow got stuck at 2YO behaviour level.

    Working with a pretty diverse group of kids in differing areas of the country over the past years I have met 2 that I felt really needed the meds they were having–and about 20 that were able to control themselves when they wanted to–and 3 with parents who drugged them into submission.–They would be a normal kid (not even super active-watching TV etc)-then you give them the meds and they literally stared at their fingers for 3 hours straight. I have a boy who can’t sit still for school-but CAN for hours planning and building extremely intricate Lego vehicles–we allow him to be himself and try to work action into school-and guide work topics toward interesting things.

  3. I’m gonna repeat a quote I heard from a medical doctor the other day:

    2 year olds with “ADHD” have parents who don’t spank, or use discipline of any kind.

    Please, no hating on me. It wasn’t a clinical diagnosis, just a physician making a casual remark. I do believe ADHD is an actual diagnosis. But don’t all 2 year olds have some form of ADHD?

    I’m just sayin’. Not judging. Just sayin’.

  4. Dandelionmom: A book I read about finding your children’s intelligences, in order to teach them better, surmises that most boys have trouble at school because they are naturally more active. They need to move around to learn, just like you say. Kids like this are best schooled in a one-on-one environment, i.e. at home.

    Leigh: I agree that all two year olds are active. I think six year olds are as well 🙂 My R has attention issues during school that I’m trying to work with. I’m still considering it a natural thing to be happening at her age right now…

  5. Two is definitely too young for diagnosis and medication. I don’t know how any parent can listen to their doctor talk about their child at that age and think, “sure, we will dope our child up.” I’d go second and third opinions! Aren’t most children rambunctious at that age? How does one tell the difference?

  6. From my own personal experience with my son (now almost 7), the doctor wouldn’t consider testing of any sort until he was of school age, or five years old.

    Mind you, I’d been seeing my pediatrician periodically since Jacob was two with concerns that his behavior was atypical. She didn’t feel his behavior was cause for REAL concern (she thought he was a rambunctious two year old), so she suggested taking a wait-and-see approach.

    When he was five and STILL showing signs of abnormal behavior, that’s when we decided to seek other opinions (at the doctors suggestion). Through the help of a family counselor and behavior modification, we’ve been able to mostly control his unwanted behaviors.

    Almost two years later, he’s grown up A LOT. I just think some kids need time more than they need a diagnoses and/or meds.

  7. I read a really cool article about ADHD a couple of months ago. The pediatrician said that ADHD is NOT something you develop. He said that all children are naturally ADHD to some level, but that we are suppose to outgrow it. Some children outgrow it faster than others, which is where I’m sure behavior modification and/or discipline can be a huge factor. The problem arises when a much older child or young adult is still having problems and cannot focus on one thing at a time.

  8. This is a tough subject!! Our oldest was diagnosed ADD (no H) when we were in Germany. He had so many issues in school (3rd grade) and was always being sent to the office. Finally they suspended him from school until he’d seen a doctor. 2 full days of testing in Heidelburg by a specialist. Then recommendations for meds. Eek. We freaked. You know us – we’re not exactly pushovers with the boys, we’ve tried to bring them up with as much discipline as love, and we really didn’t want to “drug” our kid. Hmph!

    However, the doctor told us that he really needed the meds to balance the chemicals in his head enough to focus on school work. He also told us that 30% of kids outgrow it, 30% get worse, and 30% stay about the same (on average). We put him on the meds. He was on them until 6th grade when he came to us and said “I really don’t like taking these, I feel like an antisocial zombie at school”. 6th and 7th grade were a struggle, but he was finally old enough to realize he had to take part in doing the right things that would allow him to be med-free. I never like him being on the meds, so I was both proud and relieved when he wanted off of them. We use to do little “exercises” with him like piss him off on purpose so he could practice reacting to angry situations in a safe environment where he knew he wouldn’t be in trouble. You can’t do that with a 2 year old.

    Now he’s doing amazing. You’d never guess he ever had any problems. He still has problems focusing on things, but we try to break things up a little so it’s easier for him to tackle. We’ve learned different tactics that work for him.

    But I do think that 2 years old is too soon to diagnose. Like I said, we had 2 full days of testing – tons of questions and answers and more questions. How does a 2 year old answer that much?? I don’t want to sound hypocritical since our son was medicated, but I really believe that many parents just won’t take responsibility for raising their kids right. They’re afraid to tell them NO, they expect the school systems to teach their kids values and morals and discipline, and when they’re confronted with a normal child testing his/her limits they just call it ADHD and dump meds down their throats. It’s easier to say “my kid has ADHD” than it is to say “I’m a crappy parent”

    OK… that’s my 2 cents.

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