September 17, 2013

BOYS BEING BOYS:

ADHD, or Childhood Narcissism?  (ENRICO GNAULATISEP, 17 2013, The Atlantic)

With numbers like these, we have to wonder if aspects of the disorder parallel childhood itself. Many people recognize the symptoms associated with ADHD: problems listening, forgetfulness, distractibility, prematurely ending effortful tasks, excessive talking, fidgetiness, difficulties waiting one's turn, and being action-oriented. Many also may note that these symptoms encapsulate behaviors and tendencies that most kids seem to find challenging. So what leads parents to dismiss a hunch that their child may be having difficulty acquiring effective social skills or may be slower to mature emotionally than most other kids and instead accept a diagnosis of ADHD?

Today's parents are well versed in ADHD terminology. They can easily be pressured into bypassing richer descriptions of their kid's problems and are often primed to cut to the chase.
The answer may lie, at least in part, with the common procedures and clinical atmosphere in which ADHD is assessed. Conducting a sensitive and sophisticated review of a kid's life situation can be time-consuming. Most parents consult with a pediatrician about their child's problem behaviors, and yet the average length of a pediatric visit is quite short. With the clock ticking and a line of patients in the waiting room, most efficient pediatricians will be inclined to curtail and simplify the discussion about a child's behavior. That's one piece of the puzzle. Additionally, today's parents are well versed in ADHD terminology. They can easily be pressured into bypassing richer descriptions of their kid's problems and are often primed to cut to the chase, narrowly listing behaviors along the lines of the following: 

Yes, Amanda is very distractible.

To say that Billy is hyperactive is an understatement.

Frank is impulsive beyond belief.

All too often, forces conspire in the doctor's office to ensure that any discussion about a child's predicament is brief, compact, and symptom-focused instead of long, explorative, and developmentally focused, as it should be. The compactness of the discussion in the doctor's office may even be reassuring to parents who are baffled and exasperated by their kid's behavior. It is easy to understand why parents may favor a sure and swift approach, with a discussion converging on checking off lists of symptoms, floating a diagnosis of ADHD, and reviewing options for medication.

Posted by at September 17, 2013 8:41 PM
  

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