BY ANYA KAMENETZ (npr Ed) Diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are up around 30 percent compared with 20 years ago. These days, if a 2-year-old won't sit still for circle time in preschool, she's liable to be referred for evaluation, which can put her on track for early intervention and potentially a lifetime of medication.
In an editorial just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Dimitri Christakis argues that we've got this all wrong. He's a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and the director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Children's Hospital in Seattle.
Parents, schools and doctors, he says, should completely rethink this highly medicalized framework for attention difficulties.
"ADHD does a disservice to children as a diagnosis," Christakis tells NPR Ed.
Here's why. Researchers are currently debating the nature of ADHD. They have found some genetic markers for it, but the recent rise in diagnoses is too swift to be explained by changes in our genes. Neuroscientists, too, are finding brain wiring patterns characteristic of the disorder.
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