The ADHD Diagnostic Bubble.
“My hometown has this problem, when they don’t know what is wrong with your child, they say it is ADHD”(A frustrated mother)
“He will blurt things out; he does not know when it is time to joke around and when it is not… He will ask the silliest questions, like: What if an elephant can stand on mom’s head?” “What if a person comes out of a comic book, what would happen?”
With these words a Floridian mother described the behavior of the child whose story I chose to begin my debate over the inflated ADHD statistic. I perceive this case as a portrait of maternal courage and determination because when the question was:
Should I allow the school official to scare me or stand firm for my son’s well-being?
She opted for the latter and stopped the 30 mgs of Ritalin their pediatrician was prescribing for an alleged ADHD diagnosis that was actually made by the boy’s teacher. The busy physician didn’t hear the mother’s concerns about the worsening of behaviors, after the medication was started and decided to rely on the educator’s judgment. Frustrated but vindicated, the mother said:
“The school wanted him back on Ritalin. His teacher threatened to send him back every day that he misbehaved. I told her: do it!.”
Then she gave the following family history:
“His Dad is exactly like him… my father-in law has depression and on my side of the family, my mother had “manic-depression” and she died 3 weeks ago… my aunt has depression and my brother is a bad case of OCD.”
This boy’s Mental Status Examination showed an above average intelligence and good concentration. His artistic skills are evident in this drawing of a “new Picachu.”
After one sees a talented boy with a clearly elevated mood and a family history loaded with mood problems, the question is:
What kind of rationale could have been followed to diagnose a child like this with ADHD?
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