It was thought that hasty diagnoses might help explain the increase in the number of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but a national study disputes that theory.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) conducted the 2014 National Survey of the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Tourette Syndrome to gather data about how ADHD is being diagnosed in U.S. children.
Standard best practices dictate that data be used from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as well as multiple informants (parents, teachers, etc.) to assess the child’s impairment across multiple environments (home and school) to determine if a child meets the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis.
This is a complex process and it takes time. If diagnoses are being determined quickly or without input of more than just parents, that could signify that kids are being diagnosed with ADHD without a thorough assessment.
The NCHS survey found that hasty, flawed diagnoses are actually not the source of the uptick. The majority of ADHD diagnoses in children were proper, researchers found.
Doctors used rating scales designed to determine the probability of ADHD in 9 out of every 10 ADHD diagnoses.
Three quarters of the children diagnosed when they were 6 years old or older were given neuropsychological tests, and an adult outside the immediate household was consulted in 80 percent of cases.
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