Today, nearly 1 out of every 30 children has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When you think back to every class having that one kid that couldn’t sit still or that colleague that constantly makes careless mistakes, it makes sense that some people are diagnosed earlier than others.
But why are so many adults also seeking a diagnosis in recent years? Is it that ADHD is more prevalent in daily life, or has it been hidden under a sea of ignorance for so long? And what do the increasing numbers in diagnosis mean for those living with ADHD, and for families affected by ADHD?
In this article, we explore 5 valid reasons why ADHD is more widely diagnosed nowadays, and what we can learn about its relationship with other neurodevelopmental disorders.
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More and more parents are taking advantage of developments in research and better early childhood screening programs designed to identify developmental delays or disorders in young children. These screenings include vision tests, hearing tests, speech evaluations, and psychological screenings.
Parents who participate in these early childhood screenings recognize that early intervention may provide an opportunity to reduce the struggles faced in later life for those faced with neurodivergent conditions such as ADHD and Dyslexia. For example, early interventions that teach toddlers language skills can help improve speech and language later in life, which in turn leads to more positive behaviors.
Early childhood screenings offer parents and teachers opportunities to encourage students to learn skills necessary for future success in school and later in life. With greater awareness of ADHD, early childhood screenings and brain scans become an opportunity to address developmental challenges that may lead to a diagnosis of ADHD later in life.
As we discussed above, ADHD awareness campaigns have skyrocketed in recent years. This increase in awareness comes from parents, doctors, researchers, and educators becoming aware of the potential impact of ADHD on their patients and their communities.
ADHD is a diverse condition that appears in anyone from all walks of life
For example, several years ago, parents began noticing that many of the school-age children they were seeing had difficulty paying attention and completing tasks at home and in the classroom. As a parent, you could then easily assume that your child was suffering from ADHD. However, you would need additional information to convince yourself that your child had ADHD.
This increased awareness, along with pioneering work by professionals such as Russell Barkley and Ned Hallowell led to a growing number of people researching and learning about ADHD. Many people became aware of the potential impact that ADHD could have on their lives, and therefore sought treatment for their symptoms.
Increased access to treatments for ADHD has contributed to a rising rate of diagnoses. In fact, according to one study, since 2000, there has been an average of over 400% growth in the use of stimulant medications prescribed by a child psychiatrist or pediatrician.
Additionally, there has also been an increase in the number of psychologists who specialize in treating ADHD. Therefore, it is easier than ever before for parents to find qualified professionals who understand the condition and are familiar with the different types of treatments available.
What’s more, discourse around behavioral therapy and treatments involved around how risk facts disruptive behaviors are dealt with has increased awareness of the condition. The traditional methods around behavior therapy as treatment for children are controversial and resonating amongst the wider community.
Social media has played an influential role in increasing awareness of ADHD. Parents and caregivers often turn to the internet, television, and magazines to educate themselves on the topic. They also seek advice from online forums and blogs where others share their experiences and research results.
Social media has helped millions of people worldwide learn more about ADHD
These sources of information play a role in convincing parents that ADHD is real, and that their children suffer from it. Additionally, they contribute to raising awareness about ADHD among other people who might not know much about the disorder.
Ironically, it’s thanks to the addictive nature of short-form media such as TikTok that many on these platforms are seeking the diagnosis they needed all this time. In effect, self-diagnosis is its own self-fulfilling prophecy!
Finally, the test scores of individuals diagnosed with ADHD have improved dramatically over time. According to one study, adolescents diagnosed with ADHD in 2000 scored lower than their peers without ADHD on standardized achievement tests.
However, by 2006, these same teens scored significantly higher on assessments of cognitive ability and academic performance. These improvements were attributed to the increase in accessibility of treatments.
Although the trend toward increasingly widespread diagnoses of ADHD continues today, these trends indicate that most experts agree that it’s important to remain cautious when diagnosing ADHD until all other environmental factors have been ruled out.
In summary, the rise in ADHD diagnoses can be attributed to increased public awareness of the disorder, as well as better testing methods. So when you hear someone say “everyone has ADHD these days”, you can explain to them why they think that way. And, why the increase in diagnosis is something to be embraced, not frowned upon.
Check out more articles on ADHD and see what else you can learn today!
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