|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Mental health Mental disorder|
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder commonly in children and is characterized by a continuous pattern of inattention and impulsive hyperactivity that interferes with the normal functioning and development of children (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], n.d.). This disorder is in most instances affects children under the age of ten and occasionally diagnosed in teens and even adults. Children with ADHD are hyperactive and in most cases unable to control their impulses and always have trouble paying attention whether in school or at home. The disorder is more common in boys than girls and in most circumstances discovered during the early school stages when a child begins to experience difficulties in paying attention.
According to NIMH (n.d.), inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity are the vital signs and symptoms of ADHD in children. In some instances, children may only have one sign, that is, however, a rare case with most children. In most cases, children are reported to have both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Children may show signs and symptoms of ADHD even if they do not have the disorder. It is advised to seek a diagnosis from a professional doctor to ensure proper diagnosis and eventually treatment. The determination involves several steps that require a lot of information gathered from different sources that would help a doctor conduct a correct diagnosis. A proper diagnosis will, however, depend on some factors which in the recent past have influenced the rise in the number of children with this disorder.
For the last two decades, there has been a significant rise in the number of children diagnosed with ADHD with the number of girls doubling. This has raised questions as to what factors might have contributed to this significant rise. This research paper seeks to ascertain some of the factors that have attributed to the increase of ADHD diagnoses in children.
The following factors have contributed to the rise of ADHD diagnosis in children: Increased awareness of ADHD, societal changes within education and families, technological advancements, and incorrect or overdiagnosis.
Increased Awareness of ADHD
According to Thompson (2018), there has been an increased awareness of ADHD by physicians. This has been achieved through continued medical education to furnish the physicians with the latest methods of diagnosing the disorder than they could two decades ago. As a result of this awareness and continued education on a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of ADHD, increased rate of diagnosis has been registered and thus contributing to the much significant rise in the determination of the disorder in children in the last two decades.
In the recent past, researchers have become more interested in ADHD. National Institute of Mental Health has been supportive of these researchers by raising public awareness of mental illness and ADHD. Through this awareness, the public has learned much about ADHD ranging from signs and symptoms to measures to be undertaken when seeking diagnosis and treatment. As a result, it has become easier for a parent to recognize the disorder and thus to result in the increase in diagnosis cases in children.
According to Bluth (2018), increased awareness on ADHD has significantly reduced stigma among different communities since there has been an expanded view of who could develop ADHD over the past decades. The disorder is no longer viewed as a disease that affects only a particular community or social group of people, but instead, the public has been made to have a better understanding of the condition and that which has no boundary. This has greatly influenced the rise in diagnosis cases in children and thus the rise numbers recorded in the last two decades.
In the recent past, there were minimal numbers of ADHD diagnosis recorded on girls (Todd, 2018). This was attributed to the fact that the physicians did not have much knowledge of how the condition manifested in girls. Through awareness, there has been increased knowledge on how to determine the signs and symptoms of the disorder, particularly in girls. As a result, increased numbers of diagnosis have been recorded with the cases doubling in the last two decades.
Two decades ago, children who were born weighing less than they should have a harder time to survive (Bluth, 2018). In the recent past, there has been rapid development and advancement of medical technology. These technological advancements have contributed much to the survival of preterm and low-birth-weight babies. Underweight babies are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and since there have been advancements in medical technology; these babies stand high chances of surviving. As a result, there are high chances of rising in ADHD diagnosis.
According to Thompson (2018), doctors might not have diagnosed ADHD in children earlier due to insufficient medical technology. The advancement of such technology has since enhanced diagnosis of the condition and hence an increased number of children diagnosed with the disorder.
The internet has also attributed to the rise in numbers of the diagnosis of ADHD. Through the World Wide Web and Google people can search for any information about the disorder including its signs and symptoms. Most organizations have designed websites and social media pages where people can access vital information about ADHD. These aids people with essential information and helps them identify symptoms in their children which as a result motivates them to see a physician for a diagnosis. This would, in turn, raise the number of diagnoses as seen in the recent past
Incorrect and Over-Diagnosis
In some instances, doctors hand out unwarranted ADHD diagnoses by conducting poor diagnostic practices (Hicks, 2013). This is attributed to the pressure imposed to the doctors to outstand in their performance which as a result fuels rates of increased diagnosis that outstrips the true prevalence of the child's condition. There has been an expansion of diagnostic criteria for the last few years such that children who show sign such as inattention is diagnosed with ADHD. This results in over-diagnosis of the condition and hence the rise in detection of ADHD in children.
Children are in most cases diagnosed by general pediatricians instead of professionals and specialists. The average time of diagnostic assessment and processes taken by these pediatricians usually are shorter than the required time. There are possibilities that most children are overdiagnosed since the prescribed procedures are not correctly followed (Thompson, 2018).
A proper diagnosis needs a comprehensive evaluation using information from different sources (Todd, 2018). This incorporates interviews with a parent, child, and teacher, observation by doctor, symptom rating scales and academic assessments of the child. This is however not the case with some doctors who are incompetent and rush to make a quick diagnosis based on incomplete information. When most of the doctors decide to perform such a quick diagnosis, the number of ADHD cases in children rise. Thus incorrect and overdiagnosis attributes to the rise of ADHD cases in children in recent years.
Societal Changes in Education and Families
Before the society was educated on the signs and symptoms of ADHD, a diagnosis was only made when children were at school age. This has however changed with time since families are aware of the symptoms and hence they can quickly identify the condition in preschoolers and thus increasing the number of diagnosis in children. According to Low (2018), the initial diagnosis was only done when children showed severe symptoms that caused significant impairment in functioning in schools, at home, at work or in social life. With the recent change in social life especially in education, people have known much about the condition, and a mere sign or symptom facilitates medical checkup and hence the rise in diagnosis.
Through the Affordable Care Act, children from families with low income can now access better health insurance and mental-health treatment. This has widened access to such care and children who were underserviced before can now get the services they did not receive (Todd, 2018). These low-income families have improved access to services and referrals since they do not have to pay much as they used to in the past years. This has resulted in the frequent seeking of mental medical health care and hence the increase in rates of ADHD diagnosis.
Children born preterm and with low birth weight are three times likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. In most cases, preterm birth and low birth weights are as a result of smoking during pregnancy. When unborn babies are exposed to such toxins, the probability of them being underweight and being diagnosed with ADHD is high. In the recent past, the number of pregnant women exposed to smoking has been on the rise for either family reasons or other reasons. This exposure results in preterm births and eventually the children diagnosed with ADHD and hence contributes to the increasing rate of diagnosis of the disorder.
In summary, various factors have contributed to the rise of ADHD diagnosis in children. The surge can be attributed to major factors such as increased awareness, societal changes, technological advancements, and incorrect diagnosis. Increased awareness has been a key factor for the increase since it has educated physicians, parents, teachers, and children on the various ways of identifying and treating the disorder. It has also significantly lowered ADHD stigma within the society and thus encouraging people to seek a diagnosis. Medical technological advancement has also significantly contributed to the much increase of ADHD diagnosis since doctors can now apply advanced technology to help them diagnose the disorder. Technology through the internet has also contributed to the rise since health organizations use such platforms to educate people and provide relevant information on ADHD and thus making the public knowledgeable of treatment measures. In most instances, children are diagnosed by pediatricians instead of qualified professionals; this has raised the number of incorrect diagnoses since most of the pediatricians do not follow the required procedure and processes to come up with a standard diagnosis. Societal changes in family and education are also significant factors that have attributed to the rise of determination of the disorder. There has been a rise in social teaching about signs and symptoms of ADHD in schools by teachers and at home by technology and awareness. The implementation of affordable care act has dramatically increased the number of diagnosis since most families who were initially unable to access or afford such health care can now access them. It can be concluded that it is no doubt all the factors above have contributed significantly to the rise in the diagnosis of ADHD in children in the last two decades.
Bluth, R. (2018). ADHD Numbers are Rising, and Scientists are Trying to Understand why. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/adhd-numbers-are-rising-and-scientists-are-trying-to-understand-why/2018/09/07/a918d0f4-b07e-11e8-a20b-5f4f84429666_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.391053dc638b
Hicks, M.R. (2013). Why the Increase in ADHD? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/digital-pandemic/201308/why-the-increase-in-adhd
Low, K. (2018). The Importance of ADHD Awareness. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-importance-of-adhd-awareness-20474
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