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Researchers Suggest Higher Standards, Expectations Partly to Blame for Rise in ADHD Diagnoses

Researchers Suggest Higher Standards, Expectations Partly to Blame for Rise in ADHD Diagnoses

Researchers from the University of Miami recently pointed to evidence that suggests higher standards and expectations could be partly to blame for rising diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

"Reporting in the Feb. 22 issue of JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from the University of Miami point to evidence that the rise in ADHD diagnoses coincided with ever-growing demands on young children's attention and focus,” said HealthDay.

While it’s hard to pinpoint the increase on any one cause, the researchers suggest that things like increased homework and full-day preschool programs could have something to do with it.

"In the U.S….we've decided that increasing children's academic demands is a good thing. But we haven't really considered the potential negative effects,” said lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Brosco to HealthDay.

While child psychologist Stephanie Wagner told HealthDay that ADHD is a brain disorder and not caused specifically by environmental factors, she said that environmental factors can certainly exacerbate the symptoms.

"So the more time that children with ADHD have to sit, do homework and have no freedom for play...the more difficulty they'll have -- and the more apparent that will be to adults,” Wagner said to HealthDay.

Still, increasing academic demands aren’t the only thing that’s changed over the past few decades.

"Recent decades have seen a number of trends that could feed the rise in ADHD diagnoses, Brosco said. Those include changes in how the disorder is diagnosed and aggressive marketing of ADHD drugs, Also, kids with ADHD are sometimes eligible for special education services that were not available in the 1970s, Wagner said.”

But Brosco stood firm on his belief that free play for young children is developmentally appropriate- and a lack of it could result in learning disorders later down the road.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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