Is Attention Deficit Disorder /Hyperactivity rising significantly?

Yes, clearly so
6% (1 vote)
Yes, but it is over-diagnosed
29% (5 votes)
Somewhat but not as bad as suggested
6% (1 vote)
No, it has always been bad (but undiagnosed in past)
0% (0 votes)
No, they are going wild with their diagnoses
47% (8 votes)
12% (2 votes)
Total votes: 17
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There are 17 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

I think Attention Deficit is truly on the rise and generally rightly diagnosed.



Broken, messed up, or unstable families

Internet, video games, too much TV and too much constant stimulation

Environmental factors that we may not understand (pesticide/growth hormone/genetic engineering, etc.)

Parents who took drugs during pregnancy or messed up their genetics through drugs

A culture that caters to constant stimulation and no longer demands or rewards concentration

Eating/sleeping/exercising habits

Less discipline and structure of children, longer childhoods and slower emotional maturity

What are your thoughts?

"The Midrash Detective"

josh p's picture

This is purely anecdotal but I have never seen a well disciplined child that had an ADHD disorder. I am sure there are many children with excellent parenting who have the diagnosis but I have not personally seen it. I would speculate that overall it is rare. Boys in particular are generally energetic and struggle to sit still. Maybe some parents are looking for a medical reason when it is really a combination of God's design for men as well as having an Adamic nature?

rogercarlson's picture


My son with autism also has ADHD.  Before God blessed us with Joey, I though ADHD was probably just an excuse for bad parenting.  There is no doubt there there is bad parenting, and there is no doubt that we are not the perfect parents.  But, I can tell you the to combination of my son's two conditions, has been very trying.  He is doing well now, but he has had to be on some meds.  We went three years without using medications.  There are children who are as you say.  But there are also children who have different nuerological wiring that causes these disorders.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

josh p's picture

Roger, my son also has autism. His first few years were the most difficult thing I have ever experienced. We too are far from perfect parents but our son is also doing well now. My only point was that IMO ADHD usually coincides with lack of discipline. Some kids are naturally more strong willed and energetic. By my understanding of the diagnostic process (which I have read but it has been a while) pretty much all those kids would qualify as ADHD.

We have known many parents of autistic children and every child is quite different. It is actually amazing how much variation there is in "the spectrum". I am sure that you have sought God's will and have made the decision that best suits your son. It is great that things are going well with him.  Please do not take away from my last post that all parents whose children have ADHD are not parenting correctly. I believe it is the majority of cases but not all.

Anne Sokol's picture

they're starting to think that the use of pitocin during labor/birth is contributing to some of this, like autism.

Other possible causes:

prenatal ultrasound


I also wonder, with my active first child, if some of it is caused by the expectations of daycare/early-aged schooling. My second child is a "perfect" school child, my first is not.

Charlie's picture

Adult ADHD is on the rise as well. Supposedly, ADHD always surfaces early in life, in other words, no one becomes ADHD as an adult. Yet, if it's not caught or treated early on, it can negatively impact adult life, so they say "adult" ADHD to recognize that it is a persistent problem. 

I'm going soon to pursue ADHD therapy. I was actually diagnosed as a child, but my parents were wary of medication and I got good grades, so I never received treatment. I've coped through controlling my environment, but sometimes the effects are significant enough to make me want to explore treatment. 

For me, it's like a static fuzz at the back of my brain. It's not there all the time, but when it is, it's very noticeable. I'm a very smart person, but when it's acting up, I simply can't move from A to B to C in my thought process. I try to hold a line of thought but it just scatters. I can walk from my desk to my kitchen (about 15 feet) and upon arriving, I've forgotten why I did so. It's very frustrating. 

I am concerned about over-medication, though. I think any solutions along those lines should be accompanied by a broad review of a person's lifestyle, history, and circumstances. Treatment should include behavioral and environmental advice as well as medication.

My Blog:

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Susan R's picture


I think there are legitimate brain chemistry issues that could result in symptoms of ADD/ADHD. 

However, based on all the research and reading I've done in this area, I'd say that most attention and focus problems are created by a combination of child rearing/learning methods, diet/exercise, time spent in front of tv and computer screens, and environmental factors. 

My advice is always to start a process of elimination of lifestyle choices before turning to medications. For me, some dietary changes and regular exercise have resolved many of my 'senile' moments. Most Americans don't even hydrate properly. One of the multitude of symptoms of dehydration is confusion, but when's the last time anyone's doctor asked them if they drink enough water? That's the #1 treatment in our house for a variety of symptoms, and 9/10 it 'cures' whatever is ailing us.

So when you hear hoofbeats, don't think zebras. There are many MANY bad habits in the average Western lifestyle, that if eliminated or modified, would result in a much higher ability to concentrate and remember. ADHD is a diagnosis that is made far too quickly and without any examination of other relatively basic contributing factors.

However, no matter how much I change my lifestyle, it isn't going to rewire my brain from being curious and imaginative. And since I have a eidetic memory, I have constant flashes every time I see or hear something that reminds me of something else. When I play 'free association' games like Taboo, people look at me like I'm insane. Sometimes I react to stressful situations in ways that others find strange. This isn't something I feel needs fixin', though. It is part of who I am, and I'm cool with that. 

rogercarlson's picture


That is good advice.  We did try all of that first.  Joey is on two medications.  The main one is for his cognition.  Without it, he was pretty close to non verbal.  With it, he interacts, reads, does math, and almost at grade level.  It's actually and Alzheimer's medication.  The other is for the ADHD.  he is on 3 MG a day.  We knew it helped, but did not know how much until recently.  He has some at the school and some at home.   A long story short, we ran out on a Friday night.  We thought we would try to go without for the weekend.

Big mistake.  He did not sleep from Saturday morning until Sunday night.  We got ahold of the Dr Sunday afternoon. :)  He was not really bad, but he could not sit still.  I mean he ran and moved almost all of those 36 hours.   My wife looked at him in the eyes and said Joey, you need to stop.  He looked at her and said, I can't stop. 


My wife has taught on private schools for over 10 years.  About have of those were in a traditional IFB school and the other half in a Missouri Synod Lutheran School.  I asked her and she told me she has never met a child who had a diagnosis of ADHD who did not have it.  The students who do have it and do not have their meds that day, literally get nothing done academically.   She has also had students that needed to be evaluated, but the parents would not.  Some of those children have lost out on years of academic training because there were no interventions.  Now, her experience is not in the private School, and not public school. 

Before we had Joey, I never would have medicated a child.  One of the biggest blessings is that we now can understand.   Before him, we had 3 well behaved, intelligent children.  We would see kids in public and think what is wrong with those parents.  Now, we understand.  Are there kids with discipline problems?  A ton.  But there are others who have other issues.



I agree with what you wrote.  That being said, if we were to go back, we would still use the vaccines.  We would just spread them out more.  I am concerned about the rise in non vaccinations.  I would rather have Joey the way he is instead of Joey with smallpox.  Smile

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture


I've been involved in schools for many years, even as a homeschooler. I don't think a teacher has enough information to diagnose or confirm ADD/ADHD in students. We simply don't know how parents are parenting, what the child's diet and exercise schedule is like, or if they spend untold hours in front of a television. 

For instance, the American Association of Pediatrics has published several studies that show tv viewing impairs the brain's executive functions (especially fast-paced shows and cartoons), and violent shows/movies result in a measurable increase in aggressive tendencies and a lack of empathy. The AAP has actually come out and said that children under 2 should not be exposed to tv AT ALL. Interactive play is one of the most important aspects of healthy child brain development. 

A diet high in processed foods and empty carbs can also contribute to behavioral problems. In addition, many children today are much less likely to get enough exercise, since they are at computers or in front of a television. We all know that exercise releases endorphins, which reduce stress and improve sleep habits. 

There is simply no one-size-fits-all diagnoses or solution. But prescribing psychotropic/psychotherapeutic medications should be the last step of treatment for the average child, not the first. 

Autistic and other special needs children have already been diagnosed with a physical problem, so their treatment must address their particular needs. It shouldn't be an issue if psychotropic/psychotherapeutic medications are part of that treatment. 

Diagnosing ADHD is highly problematic:

There is no single test that can be used to diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults. ADHD is diagnosed after a person has shown some or all of symptoms of ADHD on a regular basis for more than six months. In addition, symptoms must be present in more than one setting. Depending on the number and type of symptoms, a person will be diagnosed with one of three subtypes of ADHD: Primarily Inattentive, Primarily Hyperactive or Combined subtype.

From the Mayo Clinic page:

In general, a child shouldn't receive a diagnosis of ADHD unless the core symptoms of ADHD start early in life and create significant problems at home and at school on an ongoing basis.


There's no specific test for ADHD, but making a diagnosis will likely include:

Medical exam, to help rule out other possible causes of symptoms
Information gathering, such as any current medical issues, personal and family medical history and school records
Interviews or questionnaires for family members, your child's teachers or other people who know your child well, such as baby sitters and coaches
ADHD rating scales to help collect and evaluate information about your child

And ADHD presents much differently in girls than it does in boys. 

There is a real problem with too many doctors diagnosing kids with ADHD to please parents who want to medicate their kids.

Example- Many doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis, coughs due to colds, flu, ear infections, and viral gastroenteritis, even though antibiotics 1) are ineffective against viruses 2) misusing antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance, which is bad for everyone. Even knowing this, doctors will prescribe antibiotics for these illnesses. As a long time nursery worker, I've seen it happen again and again.

How much more are they pacifying parents with a diagnosis and medications for ADHD?   

It is an even bigger problem to diagnose adults. For instance, a list of symptoms of adult ADHD are:

Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
Poor organizational skills
Low self-esteem
Employment problems
Short temper
Difficulty finishing a task
Unthinking and immediate response; difficulty controlling behavior

I know quite a few adults who have these symptoms. If they'd just stop smoking pot, I think they'd be cured. :/

rogercarlson's picture


I actually agree with most of what you say.  What I am trying to get you to do is to take a step back.  Never make assumptions.  There is a HUGE problem with overmedicating.  But, in our circles, we usually assume medication is bad.  I did, until I was put in this situation.  Diet modification is a good thing, but it may not be the end all either.  I never said my wife diagnosed anyone.  What I did say, is she has never seen a kid on meds who did not need them. 

You are also right about exercise.  BTW, before Joey was on meds, he would sit and flap his legs and arms for about 40-45 min at a time.  He had the best abs in the world :)  My whole point is that both sides need to take a step back.  It isn't always about medication and it isn't always about diet and exercise.  Until you have lived it, you have no idea.  Remember, it was not long ago that people in our circles would say, you can spank the autism out of a child. 


A side not about the church in special needs.  Often, churches are uncomfortable with special needs people.  In our little church we have 5 or 6 on any given Sunday.  Some come because they have been told at other churches, that their family member is too much a distraction.  That is really sad.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture


Roger- I agree that just because a child has a behavioral issue,  we shouldn't assume that they are 'being bratty'. Our family fosters puppies being trained to act as service dogs for special  needs kids, so we meet many families who have children that are autistic, physically handicapped, have been diagnosed with RETTs, etc... We have many homeschooling families in our support group with autistic/Asperger's kids. I'm not a stranger to the behaviors of children and families who are dealing with these issues. 

I'm just addressing the increase in diagnoses of ADD/ADHD.  I'm pretty sure that I've been careful to make exceptions for special needs kids. They have been diagnosed with a legitimate physical problem. Quite often, the same drugs that treat ADD/ADHD will help special needs kids. No quarrel there.

My concern is for children who have no other significant health issues being diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed psychotropic drugs. In my opinion, most kids are not being diagnosed properly. There are legitimate testing procedures that are not being done on the majority of kids. I have talked to dozens of parents over the years who are medicating their kids, and asked them what tests the doctor did before prescribing. Not a single one said that the doc did a comprehensive medical exam, asked questions about diet or exercise, talked to other family or teachers or took a detailed medical history. 

That's why I compared it to the overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics don't affect viruses, and even if someone has a bacterial infection, there are often many ways to treat minor infections that don't involve drugs that have unpleasant side effects. And yet I talk to moms all the time who are giving their kids prescription antibiotics for viruses and minor ear infections. 

As a society, we are too dependent on medications, and expel little effort to simply live a healthy lifestyle. Children who need interactive play to develop properly are parked in front of tv screens and watch hour after hour of fast-paced cartoons, which absolutely destroy a child's ability to process information correctly.

I've even read research that indicates that the way we read the internet affects the way we read books. We have become a nation of scanners, looking for highlighted information instead of reading. Children who do not learn to read for comprehension are severely handicapped when it comes to other tasks involving focus and logical thinking. 

rogercarlson's picture


We do actually agree.  We used ritalin for less than a week.  It was really bad.  But there are non psychotropic drugs that can be used.  Our son is on guamphazine (sp?) - 1 MG 3 times a day.  It's a blood pressure med and it works well.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

SDHaynie's picture

My question is, Is not being able to pay attention the key to ADHD and, therefore, deserving of medication?  Or is not being able to pay attention simply a result of some of the other problems that have been listed and, therefore, worthy of a change in diet, behaviors, discipline, etc.?  IMHO, all but three or four of the causes mentioned are not medical conditions and in no way should be treated with drugs.

This is anecdotal, but over my years as teacher and have had a good number of students who are diagnosed with ADHD and medicated to the point of what I call "functional non-sentience"--they can walk from class to class and that's about it.  And yet I see them consume huge amounts of caffeinated beverages, candies, and manufactured foods with goodness knows what dyes, etc.  When I try to talk to their parents (in many cases they are divorced and nearly non-participatory in their kids lives) they accuse me of meddling, say that my degree is not in medicine or psychology, and they're just fine with what's they're empowering the attention deficit behavior. 

I like what Bob Roberts has said, "In my day it wasn't called ADHD, it was called B-R-A-T and you cured it, not with medicine, but with a B-E-L-T to the B-U-T-T!"

Shawn Haynie

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

There is a difference between ADD and ADHD. An ADD child gets fixated on a single object/action to the exclusion of everything else. An ADHD child is essentially the opposite, distracted by everything and unable to remain focused on a single one.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture


"Can't focus. . . there's a pill for that" by Peter DeWitt

This is such a huge problem. It is so much bigger than ADHD. It has to do with the way we live (i.e. nutrition, exercise), the way we deal with issues (social-emotional), and where our priorities are (medicate rather than evaluate). In schools, it also has to be a time when we take a serious look at the way we instruct and the way our students learn. We should modify the environment and not the kid.

CPHurst's picture

Ed, while I think AD is over diagnosed I agree that genuine cases are on the rise due to the factors you listed and probably more.