Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Diagnosing a toddler with ADHD

There are self-appointed experts who want to take over authority for child-rearing, and a crucial part of their plan is to convince parents that their normal child is actually suffering from some sort of disorder that must be treated by an expert.

Slate reports:
The American Academy of Pediatrics on Sunday issued new guidelines that urge parents and doctors to be on the lookout for signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children as young as 4. Previous guidelines set the minimum age at six. Preschoolers aren’t particularly focused in general—so how could you tell if one had ADHD?

He would fidget, interrupt, and not play well with others. ADHD is two disorders combined into one. Some children suffer from the “predominantly inattentive” form of the disease, which means they can’t focus on schoolwork, don’t follow basic instructions, and lose things all the time. Four-year-olds, however, are more likely to be diagnosed with the “predominantly hyperactive, impulsive” variety. These kids are extra squirmy, and act “as if driven by a motor.” They also climb things at inappropriate times and answer questions before the interrogator is finished asking. They’re lousy play dates, because they have trouble sharing and waiting their turn. The disorder can present a safety risk -— young children with ADHD sometimes bolt out into traffic.

Parents will notice that virtually all 4-year-olds exhibit some of these symptoms.
Yes, a 4-year-old might bolt out into traffic. It is not a disorder. You have to watch a 4-year-old near a busy street until he learns.

There is no objective test for ADHD or ADD. There is no blood test, genetic marker, brain scan, or anything like that. There is no agreed-upon definition of ADHD. All they have is questionnaires asking the parents whether the kid talks too much, and similar matters. It has already been shown that many kids get diagnosed with ADHD just because they are a little younger than their classmates.

And there are drugs like ritalin, which are not given to 4-year-olds to improve their behavior.

The goal of these experts to zero in on younger and younger kids, label them as mentally ill, and subject them to drug and other therapy. According to a recent study:
The National Comorbidity Survey–Adolescent Supplement NCS-A is a nationally representative face-to-face survey of 10,123 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years in the continental United States. ...

Anxiety disorders were the most common condition (31.9%), followed by behavior disorders (19.1%), mood disorders (14.3%), and substance use disorders (11.4%), with approximately 40% of participants with one class of disorder also meeting criteria for another class of lifetime disorder. The overall prevalence of disorders with severe impairment and/or distress was 22.2% (11.2% with mood disorders, 8.3% with anxiety disorders, and 9.6% behavior disorders). The median age of onset for disorder classes was earliest for anxiety (6 years), followed by 11 years for behavior, 13 years for mood, and 15 years for substance use disorders.

These findings provide the first prevalence data on a broad range of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents. Approximately one in every four to five youth in the U.S. meets criteria for a mental disorder with severe impairment across their lifetime.
So this is claiming that 25% of kids have an incurable mental illness that will require therapy for the rest of their lives. And some of them can no be diagnosed as young as 4 years old, just because their moms check a box on a form that they talk too much.

The NY Times reports on the latest pediatrician recommendations:
Video screen time provides no educational benefits for children under age 2 and leaves less room for activities that do, like interacting with other people and playing, the group said.

The recommendation, announced at the group’s annual convention in Boston, is less stringent than its first such warning, in 1999, which called on parents of young children to all but ban television watching for children under 2 and to fill out a “media history” for doctor’s office visits. But it also makes clear that there is no such thing as an educational program for such young children, and that leaving the TV on as background noise, as many households do, distracts both children and adults. ...

Unlike school-age children, infants and toddlers “just have no idea what’s going on” no matter how well done a video is, Dr. Troseth said.
This is directly contrary to the studies cited in their pdf statement, where it says that toddlers younger than 2 watched 1-2 hours of TV per day, and they do in fact learn from video programs. These pediatrician opinions and recommendations are worthless.

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