The rise in cases of ADHD caught health officials off guard. But not parents, it comes up at children’s schools, play grounds and whenever a group of moms and dads get together.
“It may just be a cause of today’s technology with kids being in front of iPads and iPhones, tablets, whatever,” says Kris Willing.
The CDC found 1 in 5 high school boys were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The number of overall cases is up 50% in the last decade.
“A lot of people think they can just spot a child and say ‘oh that child is hyperactive.’ That doesn’t mean that child has a disorder,” says Dr. Elena Reyes, clinical psychologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
Dr. Elena Reyes is director of behavioral medicine at the FSU family medicine residency program at Lee Memorial Health System. She believes there should be less focus on hyperactivity and more on attention deficit.
“The disorder is marked by the inattention. These children have a lot of difficulty with focusing their attention, they are very distractible, and they are very impulsive. So they get themselves in trouble a lot because they are sort of on the go without first stopping to filter,” says Dr. Reyes.
A hallmark of ADHD is difficulty with executive functioning. Meaning a disabling lack of focus that gets in the way of performing everyday tasks.
“Just doing the basic things like, organize their breakfast, organize what you’re going to wear to school today, what are the kinds of things you need in your back pack, what’s your day going to look like,” says Dr. Reyes.
A thorough evaluation should go into each diagnosis. It’s not recommended before age seven.
“Then we are very cautious because we are trying to see what goes across different situations not just one situation,” says Dr. Reyes.
Many experts and parents believe there could be a rush to judgment.
“Or people using it as a blanket diagnosis for something that may be another condition,” says Willing.
But in real cases, ADHD is a real threat to a child’s well being.
“The brain is an organ like the rest of the body and our neurotransmitters which allow for one brain cell to talk to the other, we know that there are some deficits there for children with attention deficit disorder,” says Reyes.