EDT June 24, 2013 New analysis finds that racial and ethnic disparities in ADHD diagnosis occur by kindergarten and continue until at least the end of eighth grade. Black, Hispanic and other minority children are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, according to a new analysis. (Photo: Photo Disc) Minority children are less likely than their white peers to receive an ADHD diagnosis The gap persisted even after researchers controlled for health insurance coverage and other factors Increased awareness and questioning by physicians, school psychologists and teachers is needed SHARECONNECT 100 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE Prior research has shown that black, Hispanic and other minority children are less likely than comparable white children to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, but a new study shows that this disparity starts as early as kindergarten and continues through middle school. Among those diagnosed with ADHD the most common mental health condition among kids and teens children who are ethnic or racial minorities are less likely to use prescription medication for the disorder, even when researchers account for such factors as health insurance coverage, socio-economic status and academic achievement. The findings showed that “at every time period that was assessed,” disparities in diagnosis and medication use “were evident across all of the racial and ethnic groups that we analyzed,” says Paul Morgan, lead author of the study published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics and online today. “Other research has already identified a range of different effective treatments for ADHD, including medication, behavioral therapy, specialized educational programming and parent training,” says Morgan, an associate professor of education at Penn State University. “These findings suggest that children who are racial and ethnic minorities are not accessing those treatments because they are comparatively underdiagnosed. “There’s no reason to think that minority children are less likely to have ADHD than white children, so these are worrisome findings that suggest a systemic problem,” he says, in terms of health care professionals and school-based professionals not meeting the needs of these families when it comes to properly evaluating, diagnosing and providing effective treatment.
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Maybe Im onto something I was thrilled to see Dodson, a medical professional who treats adults with ADHD write: The first thing to do is for coaches, doctors, and professionals to stop trying to turn ADHD people into neurotypical people. Dodson suggests, and I concur, that ADHDers are frustrated and demoralized by struggling in a neurotypical world, where the deck is stacked against him. No kidding. But rather than suggest we try to fit in, conform, or as he puts it, live by a neurotypical owners manual he says we must create our own, individual owners manuals, based on our current successes and strengths. This sounds so much less painful and demoralizing than trying to be someone were not and never will be. For more on Dodsons ideas, Id encourage you to read his full piece in ADDitude Magazine. What the future holds Ive always sensed a tension between those who are proponents of ADHD treatments that seem to have as their goal to try to fit us into structures (be they work, social, or educational) we dont inherently fit into, and those quieter voices (including the one deep within me) that suggest thats the wrong approach. Were in exciting and challenging times; with the arrival of Dodsons book, perhaps well learn more about how we can be ourselves in a world that doesnt get us and thrive none the less. There have always been lone voices suggesting we ADHDers should live according to our own rules, but rarely has someone championed this idea in quite as forthright, compelling, and clear a way as Dodson.
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Even though the drugs are known to improve attention and self control, they wont necessarily add up to a patient being a better student by test score standards. (Photo: Shutterstock.com) A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research published in June describes how researchers evaluated long-term the effects of a policy change in the Quebec that expanded coverage for ADHD medications. We ask whether this increase in medication use was associated with improvements in emotional functioning and short- and long-run academic outcomes among children with ADHD, the study stated. What they found was an increase of emotional problems among girls, and reductions in educational attainment among boys. Overall, the researchers suggest that expanding the use of the medication in the population might have negative consequences given the average way these drugs are used in the community. Such findings are also important in the context of ADHD medications, like Ritalin and Adderall, being increasingly abused by teens and young adults under the assumption that it will help them get better grades. A University of Michigan study in 2012 found 10 percent of high school sophomores and 12 percent of seniors admitted to using such medication as a study drug. The Wall Street Journal reported finding a lack of improvement in grades surprising because the drugs seem to have the potential to improve memory, among other cognitive skills. Other studies add confusion to these findings though. A Mayo Clinic study has found benefits in school, although not necessarily translating directly into grades,from taking medication: This is the first study that shows that taking stimulants for ADHD improves long-term school performance, lead researcher Dr.
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“The theta/beta ratio has been shown to be higher in children and adolescents with ADHD than in children without it,” the US Food and Drug Administration said. “Diagnosing ADHD is a multistep process based on a complete medical and psychiatric exam,” cautioned Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The NEBA System along with other clinical information may help health care providers more accurately determine if ADHD is the cause of a behavioral problem.” The FDA said the test “can help confirm an ADHD diagnosis” or help decide if further treatment should focus on “other medical or behavioral conditions that produce symptoms similar to ADHD.” The FDA approved the device after a reviewing it as a new and “low- to moderate-risk medical device.” Studies supplied by the manufacturer evaluated 275 patients using both the NEBA system and other standard protocols for diagnosing ADHD which include behavioral questionnaires, behavioral and IQ testing and physical exams. An independent review found the device “aided clinicians in making a more accurate diagnosis of ADHD when used in conjunction with a clinical assessment for ADHD, compared with doing the clinical assessment alone,” the FDA said. The device is made by NEBA Health in Augusta, Georgia. ADHD is believed to occur in five to 10 percent of US children.
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