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By Tracy Sherlock, Postmedia News September 13, 2010

One in five children identified as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be misdiagnosed simply because they are the youngest in their kindergarten class, a recent study suggests.

Younger children are also more likely to be prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin, said Todd Elder, a researcher at Michigan State University.

“If a child is behaving poorly, if he’s inattentive, if he can’t sit still, it may simply be because he’s five and the other kids are six,” Elder, an assistant professor, said in a news release.

“There’s a big difference between a five-year-old and a six-year-old, and teachers and medical practitioners need to take that into account when evaluating whether children have ADHD.”

Vancouver’s Karen Elkins was surprised when her son’s Grade 1 teacher told her she suspected he had attention deficit disorder, which is similar to ADHD.

“He didn’t display any of those behaviours at home,” Elkins said in an interview.

Although a psychologist said Elkins’ son was gifted, she decided to try Ritalin to see if it helped.

“I saw that he was a zombie and it took his joy away,” Elkins said, adding that she believes many kids with vision or hearing problems are misdiagnosed with ADD and ADHD.

A B.C. educator who specializes in mentoring boys for success in school said he’s not surprised by the research.

“There is no blood test for ADHD — it’s very subjective and this study makes that very clear,” said Barry MacDonald, author of Boy Smarts. “I’ve long suspected that our attitude toward rambunctious behaviour influences whether we perceive that children have ADHD.”

The consensus is that four times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with ADHD, said MacDonald, who founded MentoringBoys.com.

The higher rate may be correlated with the fact that, generally speaking, boys are slower to develop than girls, MacDonald said.

Read in Full:  http://www.canada.com/health/five+hyperactive+kids+possibly+misdiagnosed+Study/3518724/story.html



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