It's not ADHD, but what it is may surprise you

My 5-year-old daughter Vanessa was born at the end of July and although she is not the youngest child in her kindergarten class, she is among the youngest with more than half the class turning 6 in the last couple of months. Her teacher has told me she is doing really well in school. She's learning how to read and write just like everyone else. But at a parent-teacher conference last year, she did tell me that Vanessa is a bit too chatty and is not really able to tell when it's ok to goof around and when it's not.

The teacher didn't make a big deal about it saying that, in the end, she's just being her age. Yet, after reading about a study that suggests immaturity may be the reason why children who are the youngest in their class are being diagnosed, labeled and given medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD at higher rates than their older classmates, I got a bit worried.  


I mean, I don't think my daughter has ever shown any signs of having ADHD, but what if her teacher had suggested she get tested and they had diagnosed her with it even though she's really just immature? It apparently happens more often than we think.

The study, conducted by a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, involved more than 900,000 Canadian children aged 6 to 12. It found that the youngest boys were 30% more likely to be diagnosed and treated for ADHD than their oldest peers. The percentage was even higher for the youngest girls who are 70% more likely than their oldest classmates to receive the diagnosis. The results of the study fall in line with those of two U.S. studies that found the same thing in 2010.

Read more in ¿Qué más?: Are parents responsible for their kids ADHD?

There's no denying that ADHD is a serious diagnosis and that lots of kids--and adults--do suffer from it, but I feel like the findings of this study just go to show how much we're overdiagnosing our children. Parents need to inform themselves and be relentless in getting the correct diagnosis for their children before they let them be labeled and treated with drugs that can have all kinds of serious side-effects all because they are not as mature as their older classmates.

Luckily, now I know that if someone ever said anything about the possibility of my daughter having ADHD, I'd have to take a serious look at the issue of her age and that of the peers with whom she's being compared.

What do you think about this study's findings? Why do you think we're all so quick to label someone with ADHD when so many other things could be causing the distraction or the hyperactivity? 




Image via Antonio Villaraigosa/flickr

Topics: on parenting  parents and children