Barry MacDonald started a buzz when he published his summer Boy Smarts News on the topic of boy’s development and if the start of kindergarten should be delayed for boys to give them a more equal start. The response about that topic came back strongly that it really depended on the individual boy. No big surprise there, but what grew out of it was a surprising discussion about ADHD diagnosis and boys who start kindergarten early.
Teachers and staff are stretched very thin and don’t often have the resources needed to adequately assess the educational needs of children. Very few have had adequate training in holistic, effective, positive behavior guidance. Without this, it’s difficult or impossible to address the normal and often challenging behaviors of children.
ADHD has become the “go to” diagnosis for boys when there’s a challenge in classrooms, daycares, and school-age care programs. However, misdiagnosis often has tragic consequences. Karen Elkins, a consultant to parents of children suspected of having learning or behavioral problems, has this sto say: “Too often children who can’t keep up or exhibit disruptive behavior become loosely labeled with ADHD or some other behavior or learning disability. Sadly, once kids get labeled this way, it’s often very difficult to get them un-labeled. over time, unless core issues are addressed, these children suffer and get left behind.” This doesn’t even mention the unknown and possibly very negative long-term effects of stimulant medication for children. Karen recommends that parents seek a thorough assessment to understand root causes before jumping to conclusions or solutions. Often ADHD diagnosis can be very subjective, especially when teachers are comparing children in the same classroom or learning environment.
But is all of this fuss just an attempt to get more press attention? Is it really much ado about nothing? Not according to Todd Elder of Michigan State University who did research that clearly shows that ADHD misdiagnosis is more common for children who are younger than their kindergarten classmates. This study takes care to avoid downplaying the existence or significance of legitimate ADHD in children, but indicates that similar students have significantly different ADHD diagnosis rates depending on when their birthday falls in relation to the school year. Elders study is soon to be published in the Journal of Health Economics. A pre-publidshed version is available to read online on the Mentoringboys.com website. There’s also an article about it in the Vancouver Sun Times: One in five kids possibly misdiagnosed: study.
The behavior guidance techniques that I coach parents and educators in at Fiddlehouse are very effective at helping kids with ADHD as well as many other diagnosed and undiagnosed challenges. In fact, many children who were well on the way to an ADHD diagnosis no longer displayed the behaviors that got them there after parents and educators used the techniques that I teach. Be sure to get in touch if you would like to talk more about anything in this posting: firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-274-0031.