Lately, more and more headlines are reporting that ADHD is, to a degree, misdiagnosed because kids are put into a school environment too early and they must stay still for too long of periods, which is not natural to human nature. What’s worse is that with our hectic lifestyles and need for both parents to work to maintain a household it is becoming ever more essential for children to start school earlier. The reason is simple: many parents can’t afford daycare or a babysitter; therefore, school is the next best alternative. This isn’t really new, but it is becoming a more common problem. The reports are saying that kids put into school to early are sometimes being misdiagnosed with ADHD, when the real culprit is immaturity.
I happen to agree that ADHD can be misdiagnosed due to requirements of the modern world and certain circumstances children are put in, adults too for that matter. However, we have to remember when reading such reports that ADHD is indeed real and these reports are indicating a certain segment clearly described as being placed into the school system too early. The problem we are getting here is that the “ADHD is a myth” rises once again from headlines and not the actual report.
Too many already believe that ADHD is an “on purpose” disorder. In other words people who demonstrate ADHD behavior are acting the way they act on purpose and are therefore considered lazy, stupid and/or just plain bad. With current headlines this could once again become a major issue. The reason is that too many people only read headlines or skip the actual ‘articles’ of such reports and simply take away from it that ADHD is bogus. Also, newspapers are in the business of creating headlines that get attention. When they do this, they must realize that a great majority are simply going to take from the headlines and never read the article. For people with ADHD, this is very bad news and could be the return of defending ourselves over our diagnosis.
For example here is a recent headline of the LA Times: New research fuels skepticism (and questions) about those ADHD diagnoses and, here’s the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald: ADHD diagnosed by mistake in young. Now, c’mon how many not reading the full article would simply think that ADHD is a mistake diagnosis in (all) the young or, as the first headlines put it ‘about those ADHD diagnosis’ (those meaning all?). Of course, the articles clarify the research, but by then it might be too late, especially if too many readers take the headline for granted and do not read the article. Hey, how about this one: Immaturity in Kids Leading to Misdiagnosis of ADHD. So really, according to this headline and not reading the article (all) kids diagnosed with ADHD are really just immature? That may not be the intention, but how many are going to take it that way?
What do you think of the headlines above? Each of these headlines are discussing the current report from North Carolina State University about kids who start school too early. Do a Google search and you will find more such headlines of late.
As I said, I do believe that to a degree modern life has created situations and circumstances that could lead to misdiagnosis of ADHD. However, once again, thanks to certain ways of broadcasting a message, headlines are rebuilding the stigma too many of us have lived with. So we may have more parents chastising other parents for their children’s faults due to “bogus ADHD” and we may have more bullies claiming certain kids with ADHD diagnosis are simply immature or lazy or worse. By the way, immature can be a 4 letter word for kids in school.
I agree we need accurate accounting of misdiagnosis and proper diagnosis, but when such reports are released and broadcast, wouldn’t it be a bit wise to consider the repercussions of how such broadcasts are worded and used to leverage attention? Most people are not going to read the articles anyway, especially since the headlines seem to say it all already!
Or, am I just being too harsh on these headlines or sensitive to the issue?
What do you think?