Term Paper: Attention Deficit Disorder

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¶ … Attention Deficit Disorder and the argument that is over-diagnosed. The writer explores the disorder and discusses its manifestations, medications and why there are experts who believe it is being diagnosed at random. There were three sources used to complete this paper.

The over-diagnosis of ADD in America's Children

Introduction few decades ago, if a child did not behave in school, at home or elsewhere the child was given a punishment aimed at teaching him or her to follow the rules. Recent years have noted an increase in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder, with a subsequent change in the way schools and families handle the behavior issues of their children.

Currently, there are approximately five million American children with a diagnosis of ADD. The diagnosis is given to boys three times more than it is to girls and more than two million of those who have been diagnosed have been placed on stimulant medications to attempt to control the symptoms of the disorder (Ullman, 1997).

In 1988 half a million American children were taking stimulant medications for ADD. The number has doubled every two years since then (Ullman, 1997)."

American children are diagnosed with ADD and prescribed medications five times more often than all other nations in the world combined.

A recent report commissioned by the United Nations, concluded that three to five percent of all American school children are taking stimulant medications for ADD or ADHD.

There is a growing school of thought today that the actual incidence of ADD is not on the rise, but instead, doctors, parents and teachers are too quick to attribute any misbehaving symptoms as ADD therefore causing a large scale over diagnosis of the problem (Ullman, 1997).

The Causes of ADD

There is not a current scientific body of evidence about what causes true ADD which what creates the difficulty in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. It is believed to have a genetic component though an definite link has not been found that conclusively identifies ADD as a medical disorder.

Researchers at the University of California (Irvine) recently identified the first abnormal gene associated with a severe form of childhood ADD, representing a decreased sensitivity to the neurotransmitter dopamine. (Ritalin is known to stimulate dopamine release, perhaps explaining why the drug is helpful in ADD.) (Ullman, 1997)."


While experts agree that ADD is an actual disorder, there are many debates about how prevalent the true disorder is. One school of thought is that every child with behavior or focus issues is receiving an ADD diagnosis and being placed on meds.

Recently, debates have been sparked with regard to giftedness and ADD and how often the two are confused for each other (Hartnett, 2006). Experts agree there is a significant potential for children who are intellectually gifted to be diagnosed with ADHD because the symptoms can be similar in nature.

Many authors and experts believe gifted children are wrongly diagnosed with ADD or ADHD (Webb et al., 2005), including Baum & Olenchak (2002); Baum, Olenchak, & Owen (1998); Crammond (1994, 1995); Flint (2001); Freed & Parsons (1997); Kutner (1999); Lawler (2000); Lind (1993); Lovecky (1994); Ramirez-Smith (1997); Silverman (1998); Tucker & Hafenstein (1997); Webb (2001); Webb et al.; and Webb & Latimer (1993). This list of experts suggests the possibility is more than… [END OF PREVIEW]

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