Is Your Child's ADHD Diagnosis Correct?

ADHD? Or Maybe It Isn't?

by Dr. MaryJo Wagner

One little boy who was so hyperactive that his grades suffered was allergic to red dye 40.

This common additive is found not only in candy like red licorice but even in some brands of strawberry yogurt. When her mom took away all food and candy with red dye 40 in it, her son’s hyperactive behavior stopped.

ADHD is real. That's a fact. And it can cause all kinds of problems in school, with friends, at home. It can make kids miserable and their parents frantic. It can drive teachers crazy. ADHD-like behavior is epidemic, but ADHD itself is wildly over-diagnosed.

ADHD: How Is It Diagnosed?

There's no lab test for ADHD. No throat culture. No x-ray. In short, no medical procedure is available to help doctors make the diagnosis. Usually only a series of questions from the DSM4 ("Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," 4th edition) determines the diagnosis.

Often ADHD is casually diagnosed.

Mom takes Ethan to Dr. Levin, a pediatrician and says "We think Ethan has ADHD, so does his teacher. Can you prescribe something to help him do better in school and calm down at home."

Dr. Levin, who is not trained in psychotropic drugs or neurological disorders or psychology and has only 15 minutes to spend per patient, writes out the prescription.

Or ADHD is diagnosed by a psychologist who refers Sophia to Dr. Allen, a child psychiatrist who can prescribe an ADHD drug.

Dr. Allen asks Sophia's Mom a few questions from the DSM4. Sophia's Mom answers "yes" to all the questions and leaves the Dr. Allen's office with a prescription for Ritalin, the most common drug prescribed for ADHD. Dr. Allen like Dr. Levin has only 15 minutes per patient.

Dr. Levin and Dr. Allen are both excellent physicians and have the best training in their specialties. They care about children's health and are highly respected among other doctors.

But Dr. Levin isn't trained in psychology, psychiatry, or the stimulant medications used in these fields. And Dr. Allen isn't trained in looking for medical conditions or diseases that aren't of a psychiatric nature.

Turns out that Ethan is extremely allergic to red dye 40 found in dozens of foods and most candy that isn't chocolate. As for Sophia, she has extremely low levels of Vitamin D.

When Ethan stops eating anything with red dye 40 and Sophia starts taking Vitamin D supplements suggested by Dr Levin, their behavior improves. And their grades go up.

Dozens of conditions and situations can look like ADHD.Read the rest of the story on the Smart Kids Smart Parents blog including tips on getting the right diagnosis.

Maybe your kids don't have ADHD after all and maybe just a change in diet will help with ADHD symptoms. To find out what looks like ADHD and isn't ADHD, I invite you to grab your copy of the FREE "Maybe They Don't have ADHD" inventory and checklist.

Discover 12 factors that can contribute to ADHD-like behavior Give it to teachers and parents. Help stop the over-diagnosis of ADHD! No more prescribing stimulant meds for kids who don't really have ADHD at all (Yes, ADHD is real but good chance your kid doesn't have it. And that's good news!

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