Gifted or ADHD? (ADHD Misdiagnosis 2)

giftedLast week we started our look at the huge problem of ADD/ADHD misdiagnosis. The true extent of this problem becomes apparent when you stop to analyse the diagnosis rates over the past decade and also the rate at which ADD/ADHD medication is prescribed. The results of such an analysis will astound you! When plotted on a graph it appears as if the ADD/ADHD ‘industry’ can look forward to being one of the few ‘growth industries’ left in the wider economy! So what is happening? It seems that we are either facing an epidemic of catastrophic proportions or a diagnostic system that is driven by something else besides clinical accuracy. It is my conviction that the latter is the case and that vast numbers of people receive incorrect ADD/ADHD diagnoses (with life changing implications) every year. I want to repeat that I believe that the reasons behind these wrong diagnoses are:

Failure to investigate alternative explanations – An ADD/ADHD diagnosis has become almost ‘fashionable’ in some circles and is therefore the first thing some medical professionals reach for when confronted with behavioural problems.
Outside pressure – Some teachers and caregivers see an ADD/ADHD diagnosis, and the resultant prescription of mind altering chemicals, as the quickest way out of their difficulties in dealing with a particular student. This results in pressure on parents to have a child tested (usually by a professional who can be relied upon to make the ‘desired’ diagnosis).
Money – The manufacturers of ADD/ADHD medication have access to multi-million dollar marketing budgets that serve to keep the possibility of an ADD/ADHD diagnosis ‘warm’ in the mind of medical professionals, teachers and parents.

This week’s article will focus on a cause of misdiagnosis that could very easily be filed under the first alternative: Failure to investigate alternative explanations. It is a well established fact that many children who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD were actually gifted students who ‘acted out’ in response to being bored with the educational environments in which they have been placed.