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ADHD ‘over-diagnosed’ in Australia

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is becoming over diagnosed in children and is now being seen as a ‘quick-fix’ for children who are displaying behaviour difficulties , according to child psychologist Diana Roe.

, ADHD was is rapidly becoming an easy answer for parents and teachers to control their children and as a way of curbing their ‘”bad behaviour ”’, she said.

“There is a lot of pressure from parents and teachers to diagnose [ADHD],” Ms Roe said., “They want an easy fix because it can be fixed with medication . . . . Mmore and more parents are bringing their children for assessments from as young as four years.”

Australia has now become the third highest consumer in the world of ADHD medications. The United States is the first, and Canada is second, according to the Howard Florey Institute of Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says that ADHD has been diagnosed more frequently in the lpast decade and three to five per cent of Australian children are now affected by the disorder.

Ms Roe believes that as more families are having marriage breakups and other family problems, parents are looking for answers and support for children who ‘”act- out”’ as a result of these disruptions. Teachers are encouraging parents to seek psychological help for their children and this pressure can result in a diagnosis.

“There are lots of reasons the child could be acting out and it is quite clear which of those have ADHD as opposed to trying to get attention from their parents,” she said. “A child with ADHD only has behaviour difficulties as a result of not being able to focus or curve their impulsivity to sit still in a class room. It’s quite obvious if they have it.,” she said.

One way to test if a child has ADHD is to trial them on medication such a Ritalin or dexamphetamine and see if it has an effect. If children become more out of control, then ADHD is not their problem.

“This can be stressful for the child,” Ms Roe said, “Sso I would like to urge parents to really think about bringing their child for a diagnosis.”

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