Myth: ADD is being over diagnosed. It’s really just some “yuppie” excuse for poor parenting.
Reality: If anything, ADD is under-diagnosed and often misdiagnosed. Although piles of books exist on the subject and modern teacher training programs do include some training in ADD and learning disabilities, there still is a major lack of awareness about ADD in the teaching and medical professions 3 and among the general public. Published estimates of the occurrence of ADD in the general population vary from 3-5% to as high as 12%. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that 4-12% of children have ADD and recommends that pediatricians routinely should ask about behavior in school and at home and inquire about any academic difficulties. The Academy recommends that children 6-12 who exhibit symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and academic underachievement should be evaluated for ADD.
Most people have read sensationalized stories about schools encouraging the use of Ritalin on perfectly normal, active children (especially boys) and medicating them into submission. The implication of these stories is that Ritalin is over-prescribed in a cavalier fashion. But the reality is that in an average classroom of thirty children, two or three are very likely to have ADD. This number is far higher than the numbers of children who have been diagnosed and treated for this condition. My own analysis of these sensationalized press reports is that if there is any truth to them, it sounds like these youngsters were not properly evaluated for the presence of ADD. Also, if these medicated youngsters actually do have ADD and are behaving in a subdued, bland manner, then they were not medicated by an expert in the treatment of ADD. An expert would watch for and be aware of such side effects and would immediately reduce the dosage or switch to a different medication.
Since ADD is a neurobiological condition, it is not caused by spoiling or poor parenting. However, parents need education and training in order to understand and cope with their ADD children. The same is true for educators who deal with ADD in the classroom.