Some parents insist Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a phony disorder that's used as an excuse to medicate kids that are wild or spacey. Others are convinced it is a real problem that requires attention.
Now, the American Academy for Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry has issued new guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.
Dr. Sydney Spiesel, a pediatrician and medical columnist for the online magazine Slate, says there is no doubt that ADHD is real. One of the problems with ADHD, though, is its warning signs can be found in every child.
So the question is, how much more common or a problem are the behaviors in a particular child, he says. Does the child lose things; does the child have difficulty organizing tasks; is the child easily distracted; does the child fidget; and how often do the behaviors occur and how many of the behaviors occur in the child?
Although some kids with ADHD will get through childhood and school without being treated, Spiesel says, others could end up damaged. And while medications such as Ritalin can work for some children, it is not the only option. Other approaches can include psycho therapy and changing the child's focus.
It would also help if schools would adapt more to children's individual needs, rather than requiring some much conformity, Spiesel says.
Spiesel talks to Madeleine Brand about how best to treat kids with ADHD.