Do all kids with behavior problems have ADD ADHD?? - FamilyEducation
Do all kids with behavior problems have ADD ADHD??
03/29/2008 at 12:59 PM

I have read post after post stating kids have ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder and such.  My own son was diagnosed with ADD ...


I wonder how many kids actually have a physical/mental disorder and how many have only a behavior problem??


If that many kids really do have these problems then is it an epidemic?

 I think this is seriously over diagnosed. I also think the drug companies are just fine with that. It's easier for some parents to believe that there is something wrong with their child mentally, rather than face the fear of having to blame themselves for not doing a better JOB at parenting.

No, not all children with behavioural problems have ADHD. There are many causes for behavioural problems, both physical and mental, and yes single dad, in a lot of cases from bad parenting.

ADHD is NOT caused by bad parenting. In Britain, there are a lot less children who get the diagnosis, because we have the National Health Service. We don't spend out money where it can be saved. The acid test is a brain scan which shows without a doubt if the child has this physiological problem. Unfortunately, these are expensive and not used for this kind of diagnosis very often. One clear test is if the child is given medication such as Ritalin. The difference can be startling. In a child who doesn't have ADHD, the amphetamine based medication will have the opposite effect and the child will be more active.
Please remember, it is physiological not physcological. It causes so much damage to a parent being told they are at the root of their child's disorder and dysfunction when clearly they are not.

No, not all kids with behavioral problems have a condition, I agree that these things are seriously overdiagnosed to the point of it being sickening.  I am appalled at how many people will go to the point of medicating their child when some simple lifestyle/parenting changes could fix their problems.  I know someone who's 5 yo son has been dx with adhd but yet they have a huge flat screen tv that is on 24 hours a day.  Hmmm....perhaps turn off Sally Jesse and spend some time paying attention to your kid and he'd stop bouncing off the walls trying to get your attention! 

Also, bipolar disorder runs rampant in my family, never diagnosed before puberty and sometimes not before adulthood but, interestingly enough, the family member that was told he had ADD at the age of 7 is now 29 years old and is actually bipolar.  I believe that (this is going to get me killed probably) there may most likely not be any such thing as ADD/ADHD but really that these kids are being either misdiagnosed and will end up being dx with a brain disorder like bipolar in the future or they are just products of homes where the parents aren't giving them the type of attention and help they need.

I don't know what qualifies you to say there may be no such thing as ADHD.  Have you had much experience with any children who suffer from it?  I have done the studying, but also lived with two children who have it. I also work with children who have the disorder. It is NOT about bad parenting. When will people like you get it into their heads.  So many sanctimonious people who would like to blame the parents because their children are okay. They must be good parents then. My children, all four of them were brought up exactly the same way, but two of them did not have the disorder. They led normal lives not getting into trouble and doing well at school. The other two had major problems. I did all I could to help them which included counselling and trying all the strategies suggested to me. Because you are blaming bad parenting for a disorder which has been thoroughly researched, you are calling me and all the parents on here whose children have the disorder a bad parent. Thanks but it took me many years of pain to get over blaming myself for how my children are. Why don't you research it properly before you judge people. How dare you!

Just a few  links.

Just opinion here, but I do think that some kids have behavior problems that can be addressed by changing parental behaviors, and some kids have behavior problems that are a result of environmental (allergy or other) factors and some kids are not disordered at all, but just need more physical activity or more interaction with others than is allowed for in the current educational system.  So many kids get labeled hyperactive because they need a higher level of physical activity than they get 6 hours a day seated at a desk.  So many kids get labeled attention deficit because they are talking to their peers or learning independently,  instead of attending to teacher's lecture or to seat-work.  And I keep hearing the solution to some problem is less recess, more homework.  It must be a different problem. 

There are a few children who are outside the norm, but they are a very few, not nearly as many as are diagnosed/treated ADD/ADHD.


Yes, as you say Gail, just your opinion, but keep doing the research and you may get there in the end and understand what ADHD is all about.
I don't doubt there are quite a few parents out there who are just lazy and want their child diagnosed to give themselves a break, but with ignorant comments, parents of children who are truly affected are stigmatised with the rest. The problem does seem to be a lot more prevalent over there in the States. Why do you think that is? It could be because we have a National Health Service and you have to pay for treatment. Of course, there are the drug companies to keep solvent too., as I think singledad commented on.

My experience comes from living with my brother for 9 years after he'd been diagnosed with ADD, until he was 16 and was properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder with which he is still not med compliant almost 13 years later.  It also comes from three years as a full time student studying early childhood education and psychology.

I did not say that I believe there is no such thing as ADD/ADHD.  I said that there MAY not be such a thing.  I'm not saying there isn't something wrong with some of the children diagnosed with it, I'm saying that they are being misdiagnosed.  I think that drugs such as ritalin are so cruel to put into children, especially since it's been proven as reported by NAMI that ritalin has an opposite effect with bipolar disorder in children, making them worse instead of better.
Up until recently, bipolar disorder in children was unheard of.  Then doctors starting seeing a pattern in teenagers that were newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, showing that they had been diagnosed with ADHD in their childhood.  ADHD symptoms mimic that of childhood bipolar disorder. 
What I am trying to say is that perhaps what we are calling ADD or ADHD are actually childhood bipolar disorder.  I am not quite sure what should be done from that point, as the most effective bipolar drugs are for adults only but, I just hate to see a child given drugs that may not be doing what they are intended to do because the wrong disorder is being treated.

Here is a link that talks a bit about childhood bipolar and, I believe, mentions the association with an ADHD diagnosis:

Also, I take slight (but not complete because I know we parents are fiercely protective) offense at your assumption that I am ignorant on this matter.  All education and life experience with my brother aside, I have a severe brain disorder myself and am active in NAMI as well as an advocate for mental health parity and single payer healthcare to do away with the need for parity.  I also speak to children about mental illness awareness at schools and strive to lessen the stigma towards those with a mental illness through education on the subject.
I know that you could not possibly know any of this about me but, my point is that an assumption of ignorance is not always accurate and can be hurtful.


Junie, sorry I came across poorly.  My response was intended to say that there are many different problems that manifest in behavior, not that ADD/ADHD is imaginary or caused by poor parenting

You talk about your experience with your brother, yes, fair enough. But just because that was his problem, doesn't mean it is the same in all cases. I know it is not the case with either of my sons, one of whom is 32, and the other 18. My elder one wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until relatively recently and his life is still a struggle. My youngest one however did get a diagnosis, and his life was totally different from his older brother's. He did take Ritalin, and you may have your doubts about medication, some people do, but I feel it saved him. I would have 'been cruel' NOT to give him this help. It helped him to focus and let him have a more 'normal' life. He was eventually able to return to mainstream schooling and is now doing excellently at college gaining distinctions in exams. I am also a graduate having studied early childhood education, psychology, sociology etc, etc, etc, and am working with children now professionally. You may feel slighted, but did you think what you had made me feel when you passed your comments and judgement over me as a parent.

Sorry Gail, you just got caught in the crossfire again. My apologies. I was rather irate at another poster.

Juni, It sounds like your sons had a real struggle with this, but It does not mean that many many children are not misdiagnosed and medicated when they should not be. This is why some ppl scoff at the idea of a kid having ADD ADHD... Stereotypes exist because there is some truth to them. You suffer discrimination because there are so many kids that don't have a physical problem but are diagnosed and medicated. There are some, maybe many, parents that blame their childs poor behavior on a medical problem when it is really a result of poor parenting. That is not your situation, but you may face certain descrimination because of other parents mistakes. The world is not always fair

I am currently doing my dissertation on ADHD and strategies. i would be very grateful if i could interview any parent on this subject. please email thank you

Actually parents usually deny that there is anything wrong with their child. There isn't anything "easy" about believing your child has a disability that is life altering. Quite the contrary, good parents take their children to the doctor and listen to their doctors advice, if medication will help, good parents take the prescription to the pharmacy and have it filled, just like you would an antibiotic for an ear infection.

It is very hurtful when people think you give a child medication because you can't handle being a parent! And unfortunately this attitude scares many parents away from doing what is best for their child.

Occasionally any ailment can be misdiagnosed, why does everyone pick on the disability ADHD? Because it's invisible, some people can't believe it if they can't see it. But there are tests and evaluatiuons that scientifically prove that a child has it. And that diagnosis is required before medication is given. But some people think they can walk into a childs home and pass judgement on the parents? When I hear statements of this sort I know one of two things exist you either do not have a child with ADHD or you do have a child with ADHD and are in denial. Do you walk into hospice and say, I don't think that person has cancer, he has hair! Educate yourself, or say nothing, please.

We have become a society that looks for a word or phrase to label people of which we do not want to deal with or want to find the real solution to that individuals problem. Schools have become more concerned with behavioral problems with a child than finding out ways in how to educate a child that is having difficulties. Of course there is a pill or drug disguised under "medical intervention" which can turn your child into a zombie at school and a wild person when they are at home. Some kids my need medications, but we have become an over medicated society. Home Schooling may work best for these kids!

Hi tamz, My oldest son, as I've mentioned before, has his share of problems. I can't deny that he has behavior issues. In fact, both my boys are pretty active and don't always listen. However, it's never been thought that either of them have ADHD. My oldest son's biggest challenge is in communication and processing. He often gets distracted, silly and even frustrated, which gets interpreted by many people as a behavior problem. Sometimes, though, it's defiant behavior which we have to nip in the bud. Put in the right setting, my son is fine. However, if he's in an unstructured setting w/ a lot of noise and people, he becomes over-stimulated, and it seems he doesn't know how to act appropriately. I've heard that kids who have learning challenges or psychological problems, but don't have ADD/ADHD, can still display behaviors associated w/ these disorders. That's why I think drs have such a tough time distinguishing between the disorders and determining who needs medication and who doesn't. One thing I don't agree w/ is medicating very young children, unless it's absolutely necessary. Some drs and school personnel are so quick to push drugs on kids too early before they even know what's going on w/ these kids. I agree that it's needed in some cases, but not in all cases. I don't believe bad parenting has anything to do w/ conditions such as ADD and ADHD, although I do feel it can contribute to psycological problems and poor self-esteem which can lead to behavior problems as well. I wish you the best w/ your son. It's a hard road, but we have to travel it. Hang in there.

Thank you Addvocate. I could not agree more to all that you have said. I have lived with this for many years. I know the difference medication can make both at the time and years later. One of my sons was never treated. He was just labelled 'bad boy' however much I asked for assessment. His much younger brother on the other hand was diagnosed and got help which included Ritalin. He has never looked back. Please continue to spread the truth about ADD or ADHD.

Good pt, addvocate. I'm sure if my son's dr recommended meds, we probably wld consider her advice if we felt there was no other alternative and that it wld be helpful. I'm no expert in this area, but I'm learning as I go. I've also learned a lot from people, like Junieg, who have lived through the experience much longer than I have. We have to use our instincts as parents b/c each child is different. What works for one child, may not be the solution for another. It's not for us to pass judgement on others b/c we are not them, and we are not living their lives. I've been there, and honestly I don't know if it's best to educate others so they better understand your situation, put others in their place, or just ignore the ignorant comments altogether. Any way you look at it, it's a difficult position to be in.

Gospelway, home schooling is not really an option here in Britain, and even if it were, the last kind of education I would wish for my children is one based on the religion myth.

I believe that this is a easy cop out and always diagnosed to early in Children. As a teacher I see children all day most days and I feel that they are not add or adhd.Children just need to find themselves and to find the best way to express themself. A friend son was diagnosed ADHD and on medication for years and years he recently turned 15 and found a really lovely girlfriend and now has a part-time after school job and takes no medication at all. He is a different child now and just understanding and the responsibility has been the best thing for this child........ He knows what his triggers are for his behaviours and knows how to control, REally if you think about this was it that common 30 years ago is it just a easy way to blame a medical condition or does it come back to parents as we seem to wrap our kids up in cotton wool when we were growing up I never knew about this and what was normal behaviour then is not NOW!!!!!!!

Overdiagnosed, yes, but not always misdiagnosed. I think it is often a response to the over-burdening of the educational system, which leads to children in a high stress setting, which leads to misbehavior.

Actually, acitez opinion is very interesting to me. I guess I really did not consider the stress kids are under these days... I was thinking about managing behavior from a parents perspective. True kids spend many many hours at school and school systems do not have the resources to manage behavior. Plus the stresses of life are intense for today's kids. Druging them could be an easier solution... I'm not saying these disorders are not REAL, I'm saying if as many kids have these conditons as are diagnosed, we have a serious problem.

This leads me to a further thought about the educational system. So many kids are being mainstreamed into regular classrooms where teachers are not equipt to handle their needs. I saw this first hand w/ my son. At the pre-k level, my son attended both a spec ed school and our local public school. This was the first and only yr he was in public school. The thought was to see how he wld transition into the regular classroom. For him, this backfired. W/ a large class size and a teacher w/ no spec ed background, it was quite evident that this setting was not the right place for our son. Today our son attends kindergarten in the spec ed school, and he's doing well. Put in the right environment and given the proper tools, he's proven he can function and progress to the best of his ability. I fear that if he stayed in our public school, he wld've only fallen backwards and wld've probably developed behavior problems which he started to exhibit when he was there. I have no problem w/ our public school, but I don't feel it's the right place for our son. I often wonder if we were forced to send our son to public school, and he started acting out b/c they don't know how to handle him, if they too wld push us to medicate him. Our son is not ADHD, but he does exhibit many behavior problems associated w/ the condition if put in an environment that's over-stimulating. We don't know what the future holds for our son. We can only base our decisions on what we know now and on what has worked for us up to this point. It's just unfortunate when you see parents struggle w/ whether they shld medicate their child or not, especially if they feel pressured to do so. If there is another alternative, that shld at least be an option to them. Parents shld never feel forced to medicate their children if they don't want to. Sometimes it may be necessary, but other times parents shld have other options available to them. It shld all be about what's best for the child, not what's best for the school and it's budget.

I just want to say that after reading these posts that many moms and dads make decisions to put their children on ADD meds after many other failed attempts at success for their chid. We started our 7 yr old son on ADD meds back in the fall and we are still trying to get the medicine type and dosage right. We tried so many things before turning to stimulant medications... our son lives in a structured nurishing environment, we've read books on ADD children and tried many strategies, we've done behavior mod programs, goal setting, etc. We are also currently doing counseling and seeking an evaluation at a children's hospital. When it came to the point that my health was majorly suffering because of dealing with my son's behaviors we knew we had to try something else. We talked to our family dr. and had our son evaluated which showed he had ADD. We also took the route of counseling to help us all survive. One thing that did come out with the psychologist is that he probably is PDD or has Asperger's Syndrome which can be quite challening to deal with. We will have the official diagnosis from a children's hospital soon. My husband and I are good parents and we are not the cause of our son being ADD or PDD. I get quite upset when people just assume that we are to blame. Now are some parents the cause of their children showing signs of unstructured behavior... yes. I've taught children that can't sit still are totally disorganized, etc. and exhibit all the behaviors that ADD kids have, but then when you find out about their homelife you realize that their environment is causing their behaviors. It is very sad in these cases to see the children put on ADD meds. So there are cases where ADD meds are overused and shouldn't be. Another thing I'd like to mention is that just because a child is not successful in school doesn't mean that he isn't smart. Look at Albert Einstein. Being "smart" doesn't mean just book smart... many people have wonderful gifts (mechanical, musical, social, etc.), but really struggle with the school environment. So lets not judge someone on their intelligence because they aren't as successful in school! There is my two cents worth. Only

My son is 8 he has a hard time with his anger teachers work him to death but he still has a problem so they sent him into a normal class were he is challanged and now he is fine so what do u think about that?

Having 3 children, 3 grand children, and being a child care worker. I have seen and learned as much about child behavior as some people who have a degree in this field. It's a total crap shoot as to how a child will turnout. Two of mine are very successful, well educated "normal" if there is such thing, functioning people. All were raised the same way in the same environment, both parents biological. I have one who is 30+, sitting in jail, heart breaking for our whole family. It really does take a "Village to raise a child". Parents need to open their eyes to a child's cry for help, before they send them to the daycare workers, and teachers. We are very limited by laws, and rules, we can't fix it. We need your help!! It takes a joint effort. If you love your children it takes lots of work ,just like any JOB but more important. It will make their lives easier, and they will pay it forward. took me 30+ years to learn that, just trying to pass on a hard learned lesson.