Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you think we're too quick to diagnose kids as having some sort of emotional issue?

Asked by Dutchess_III (27692 points ) September 17th, 2011

One of the litigants on Judge Judy said her five year old was diagnosed with autism at the age of one. That’s just crazy (Judge Judy thought so too.) I think we are too quick to “label” kids as having “problems.” I wonder if the incidence of ADD and autism etc. would drop significantly if the parents didn’t get social security payments for their “disabled” kids every month.

I could have easily gotten my son diagnosed as hyperactive…but I figured that’s just the way he was and he’d get over it eventually! I figured if he got in enough trouble, enough times, for acting so impulsively he’d learn how to control himself. And he did.

I once took my daughter for counseling because she was having a very difficult time dealing with some of the stuff that was in her life. Within 15 minutes the counselor ‘diagnosed’ her with depression, autism and ADD. It was insane.

I think that any kid could be found to be “suffering” from some disorder or another, because they’re kids.

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66 Answers

BeccaBoo's avatar

No, although i don’t know how it works over there in the US, but even if a child displays significant signs of Autism, the spectrum is so wide that its difficult to put a child of 1 yrs into any category without running tests on the child being fully developed.

My son was 6yrs when he was diagnosed and even then the specialist’s said to me then, they may have to re-assess him when he was 7, 10 and 12….....

So I agree with you and “Judge Judy”...thats crazy.

athenasgriffin's avatar

Umm. . . this seems like a rant. My cousin has severe mental and emotional difficulties because of things that happened in the womb and he has been diagnosed since he was born. That doesn’t make his mother a bad person for not fighting for him. It makes her a good person for trying to get as much help as she can in raising her child, and giving him as many opportunities to succeed as she can.

Kardamom's avatar

According to the Mayo Clinic autism symptoms can appear in early infancy.

Here is some info on the National Institute of Mental Health that suggests that very young children, even as young as 18 months ( a child would still be considered one year old as opposed to two years old) can be diagnosed with autism.

marinelife's avatar

@Dutchess_III You seem to be very opinionated on this subject. There is a vast spectrum of responses between yours (any child could be said to be suffering from anything) and the true diagnoses.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m not saying that all childhood disorders are made up. I know there are some very real problems out there. I just think that in the US we’re just too damn quick to label kids with something. Most ADHD kids I’ve met are simply suffering from lazy parents who don’t want to take the time to discipline them. If they get the kid “diagnosed” they’re off the hook. EVERY two year old is ADHD!

abysmalbeauty's avatar

I do not think that we can ever diagnose a child with autism at too young an age, especially considering the diagnosis opens up a wide range of one on one teaching therapies that only can help. My son is not yet 2 and is diagnosed as autistic and the symptoms have been apparent to me and his dad for over 6 months which is why we took him to get evaluated. Waiting until they are older reduces the likelihood of autistic children being able to function effectively and independently in society, it prolongs their frustration and suffering for the time that they cannot communicate with those around them as well as leaving them more vulnerable to self-injuring behaviors. The frustration these kids experience often leads to depression. I see no reason why we should “wait and see” instead of get help now.

Blueroses's avatar

@Dutchess_III I question this issue constantly. It seems now that it is abnormal to not have some diagnosis of abnormality so I wonder who is defining “normal”?

It seems so driven by pharmaceuticals that average out moods and abilities and make a lot of money from everybody taking one of their products.

I think this devalues the genuinely afflicted and there is severe backlash for paraprofessional diagnoses that it’s turning into a “boy who cried wolf”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Very well said, @Blueroses.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I think the problem is that who are you to say that all these kids don’t have this disorder? You haven’t done an intake, you aren’t qualified to hand out diagnoses, and for most kids you’ll have very little idea of what their home life is and what the parents have tried and not tried and how disciplinary they are, etc. So why is your decision that they don’t have a disorder more valid than that of someone who has gone through some training and has done an intake? Not everyone who is diagnosed has what they’re diagnosed with, fine, that’s true of all diagnoses. But who are you to be the one to say that they don’t?

DominicX's avatar

I agree with @Blueroses on this one. Of course things like autism can be diagnosed at young ages and it’s very possible that rates of autism are simply going up, for whatever reason. However, I do believe that in this country at least we are very quick to slap a diagnosis on someone and write them a prescription for mind-altering pills. Some people seem to think being introverted is a disorder that needs pharmaceutical treatment; I remember someone on Fluther once saying that many symptoms of ADD are just natural ways children act and we shouldn’t be trying to drug them out of it unless the case is severe enough to warrant that.

Sometimes it seems to me like we want to dope people up at earlier and earlier ages and it does bother me a bit and I can’t help but think that pharmaceutical companies might not necessarily have everybody’s “well-being” as their main motivation for being able to sell more and more pills.

And yes, that was a rant.

Coloma's avatar

A lot of what is labeled negative is also highly correlated with many traits of giftedness.

Lots of the ADD & ADHD labels conceal some very gifted kids underneath the negative blanket.

I myself have never been formally diagnosed but have often joked that I am somewhat ADHD.

I may be a little scattered at times, but, I am also very bright, creative, quick witted and humorous, a quick study and have a strong ability to think in abstracts.

I now believe that as a child I was often not stimulated ENOUGH and when bored would not apply myself.

My teachers all said the same thing for years about me, before the ADHD label was even invented

“If she’s interested, there is no stopping her, she’ll master everything and be begging for more, but…if she is not interested wild horses couldn’t drag her into any enthusiasm.

My report cards almost always read

A+
A+
A
B
D
F

LOL

thesparrow's avatar

I have serious doubts as to whether something like ADD exists (severe autism is a different story).

Dutchess_III's avatar

I, too, am afraid that much of it goes back to the big pharmas. There is a pill for everything. Just like the germaphobe world we now live in goes back to the makers of cleaning products trying to make a buck. Create a solution then create a problem for it.

thesparrow's avatar

My BF, I believe, is ADD. He is constantly moving from one topic to the other and had behavioural / drug problems at school. However, he’s one of the smartest people I know (well, smart to some extent… at least to the extent that he knows how lucky he is to have found me). Heh.. perhaps my diagnosis could be narcissism.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@thesparrow…that would be ADHD. Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. ADD, if it’s real, just means that they have a very short attention span, like most first graders do. It’s not always associated with hyperactivity, which most two year old’s are.

thesparrow's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yeah, but I certainly don’t let him give me that excuse for being inattentive and/or skirting from one topic to another like our conversation is a damn roller coaster.

thesparrow's avatar

I have an incredibly good attention span. I have a near perfect academic record, I’m calm and collected most of the time, I don’t get frustrated easily. I seemed to really have picked my polar opposite.

Coloma's avatar

@thesparrow

Some of us just have fast brains and the ability to make a lot of non-linear associations.
I too can bounce from subject to subject with ease.
If your BF is not a liar, a cheater, a manipulator and an exploiter he is not a malignant narcissist.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They have a pill for that @thesparrow, I’m sure!

thesparrow's avatar

@Dutchess_III Lol! I’m as messed up as the next one.. I agree.

thesparrow's avatar

@Coloma No, he is a good man, and clearly I do love him because I seem to bring him up constantly as an example on Fluther.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I think that within the last 40 years, we’ve become so focussed on children (children’s rights, children’s physical and mental well-being, etc.) that we’ve made them into “little people/adults” rather than just treating and seeing them as mere children. We have erringly applied adult concerns onto children, when in fact kids haven’t even grown up yet emotionally or physically. Some kids have special needs and concerns, yes, but when we start to overanalyze everything, that isn’t good. It only makes the child more of a “problem.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Coloma Pretty much all of us on Fluther can bounce from subject to subject with ease! If you can’t handle that, you don’t belong here!

Well said @MRSHINYSHOES. I think there is a dearth of serious parental discipline today, too.

Blueroses's avatar

I don’t know one single person who doesn’t have some issue (see the thread about mental illness) and I don’t know one single person who considers him/herself “normal”.

Normal seems to be some point nobody meets but is only used to show what deviation every single person has.

It’s as arbitrary (it seems to me) as saying you act this way because of your astrological sign or your Myers/Briggs profile.

We have systems designed to serve the average (whom nobody is) and tools to see the deviation from average. Is the goal to medicate everyone to be “average”?

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, there is. Parental discipline, with a lot of love, is the way to go with me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know…I have an acquaintance who is just not a very good mother. I’ve known her since before she had kids…then watched as she had them, and watched them grow. Her idea of discipline is to sit on the couch and yell threats at them that she never follows through on…until she gets pissed and they get whacked for something minor. They cry ALL the time. They don’t obey any social boundaries. They’re rude and ill mannered. Is it any surprise that one of her kids was diagnosed with autism, and the other as ADHD? That’s her excuse now…it’s not her fault. They both have some sort of disorder.

Blueroses's avatar

@Dutchess_III There are pills for that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yep. Doggie Downers.

everephebe's avatar

Yes… but I was too quick too give that answer so…

Dutchess_III's avatar

There’s a pill for that @everephebe! It’ll sloooow you down so you will be manageable.

jerv's avatar

I think that there is a bit of over-diagnosis going on, and it does those of us that actually have problems a disservice, just as people like @MRSHINYSHOES who think that a good spanking will make me less autistic. Then again, fifty years ago, they would’ve just labeled me “retarded” despite having enough IQ points to qualify for Mensa.

Many things take a while to accurately diagnose though, and it’s far more profitable to just slap a label on a kid and sell some pills than to be professional and follow the Hippocratic Oath.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I think we are far, far too quick to label behavior as “problem behavior” when most of the time it’s nothing but children being children, particularly little boys. I’ve never been a grade school teacher before, but if I were, the occasional run around the buliding would be good therepy for rambunctious little boys.

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley Mostly true. I would say that 9 out of 10 times, it is just kids being kids and parents not wanting to accept that. The catch is that those who truly do have issues are not “one in a million”, and the sad fact is that many kids with real issues wind up untreated while a lot of kids get treated for problems they don’t have.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@CaptainHarley Totally agree. I sent my kids to run laps in the empty lot across the street quite often! But some parents would probably find some reason to sue you and schools for doing that. This world just sucks sometimes.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jerv I think you hit the nail on the head. There ARE valid issues out there that medication can help, but it’s just turned into an assembly line, it seems. Like I said, after 15 minutes of talking to a counselor he “diagnosed” my daughter with every problem under the sun.
The root of her problem IS depression, actually ,and has been for all of her life. I had a hard time understanding that, but she has been taking meds for it for about six months now and it’s made a huge difference in her life.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t know about too young, but I think there is overdiagnosing as @jerv said, and I agree with @CaptainHarley especially boys are at risk for overdiagnosing.

I have so many examples of friends and their kids. I will only tell one, to try not to bore anyone. I had spent a week with a girlfriend and her two sons 2 and 5. Well, her husband was there too. Anyway, I had spent a lot of time with the 5 yearold. We played, he showed me his favorite books, we watched TV. A few weeks later I was talking to this same friend and she asked me what she thought about her son being ADHD, that thebschool thinks he should be on medication. Huh? The kid was patient, focused, played nicely, the whole time I was there. He does have some minor impairment that we have been aware of from birth, but nothing to keep him from being in regular school, and nothing anyone just playing with him would ever recognize. Anyway, my opinion was if he is acting up or unfocused in school it is not ADHD it is situational, I would question the classroom environment. The ADHD kid can’t control himself in any situations. That to me is medicating a kid so he will sit still in class and make a teachers life easier. He is 19 now. Never took ADHD medication, and in fact it was never raised again by any other teachers or the schools.

Back in the day many kids were diagnosed ADD and the meds barely worked, and then they began to realize that someof the kids are actually bipolar, and that is why ADD meds were ineffective. I mention it because diagnosis of ADD and bipolar and others I think happen in trends. It is a fact that some cities have much higher rates of diagnosis than others regardinf certain childhood psychological illnesses.

CaptainHarley's avatar

This topic makes me very aggravated. If there had been such a thing as ADD, I’m reasonably sure I would have been diagnosed with it at about 6 or 7. The only problem with me was that my mother had left my father and me, and my father had to work in another state. I was raised by my grandmother. I think this is one reason boys seem to do better in military schools, where there is emphasis on physical activity as well as classroom activity. Most boys are just more physical than most girls, and than most women, the largest demographic group for elementary teachers.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@jerv
A good spanking?? Where on earth did you get that idea about me?

JLeslie's avatar

@CaptainHarley I worked with a woman several years ago, and after a few days I said to my husband, “she must be ADD.” it was the first time I had been around an adult like her. Within in a few weeks it actually came up, she told me she was ADD, and chose not to medicate herself anymore. It is a realy thing in my opinion. I friend of my mom’s had a son who was diagosed, and he used to ask for his medication, because I guess he knew he was out of control? But, I do think many many boys are put on ADD medicine when they simply are having trouble with sitting still for hours in a classroom, probably an unreasonable expectation for many 5 year old boys. I don’t know if young children are at desks more than when I was a kid. In kindergarten I remember playing a lot.

Dutchess_III's avatar

All two year olds are ADHD, and that’s about the age that some get “diagnosed.” Did you know the household gets a social security check each month for each kid who is “diagnosed” with at “disability”?

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Seriously? A disbaility check? Are you sure?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@JLeslie

They seem to spend a lot more time at a desk than I did. We use to have two recess periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, as well as lunch. I remember us boys would play baseball. I also remember that it was great fun. : )

Dutchess_III's avatar

HEY! Us girls played baseball too, Harley!! And they still have morning and afternoon recess at the elementary schools. Just not if it’s snowing or the wind is blowing or if it’s below 40 or whatever.

Yes, @JLeslie. Seriously. A disability check.

jerv's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES You always struck me as a traditional, old-fashioned type of guy, and that is how they did it in the old days, that’s why. I meant no offense.

@CaptainHarley There really is, but it’s been so over-diagnosed that it has been marginalized. In your case though, are you actually capable of focusing on a task for more than a couple of minutes without getting so drawn in that you tune out the outside world to the point where you may not even notice if the building burst into flames? I would wager that you are; those who are truly ADD may not, and those who are ADHD may run around the room screaming whether the place is on fire or not.

@JLeslie One issue they had with me was the fact that AS often has manifests with some of the symptoms of other things like ADD, anxiety, and High-Functioning Autism (except that we develop language skills normally). While AS was known of in the 1940s, it wasn’t an official DSM-IV diagnosis until I had already graduated high school, so they really didn’t have a clue what was going on with me. I think you can see from that how the medical community isn’t entirely on the ball even if you discount the kickbacks they get from pharmaceutical companies :/

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv An added complication was for many many years they did not do any research studies on children and medication, because they had decided it was unethical to do studies on children. So we had a bunch of children being given medications that had only been eveluated in a scientific manner on adults. Finally they started studying these drugs in children again.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv

I could easily have been diagnosed as ADD when I was young, but later, especially after I got to college, I developed the ability to focus intently on the task at hand. My first wife was fond of saying that “The world could collapse around you when you’re reading and you’d never notice!” Heh!

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@jerv None taken. You’re right, I am on the old-fashioned, traditional side, but I don’t believe in spanking or hitting children. I have never hit my own children. I suppose you can call me a “progressive conservative” type of father.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Dutchess_III My son definitely had symptoms of SID from day 1 and his Asperger’s symptoms showed early on, too he spoke clear sentences at 10mos of age. And has always used language well above his age level

I think what you are seeing is awareness. The more educated we become on spectrum disorders the more we as parents, teachers and doctors are able to notice the early warning signs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SpatzieLover…what is SID? How did he display it?

SpatzieLover's avatar

Sensory Integration Disorder. aka Sensory Perception Disorder or SPD…they are used interchangeably here in the USA He displayed it many ways…day 1, he screamed every time the hospital bedroom door opened and closed. The metal to metal noise on the strike plate must’ve been too extreme of a noise for his hypersensitive hearing.

My son also has extreme temperature regulation issues. It was apparent from early on that the more excited he got, the hotter he got. He was the type of baby that needed to be near naked at some point during any family gathering…even in winter. He’d be dressed cute. We’d see his ears get for, then his cheeks…etc…we’d slowly begin stripping him until he had nothing left but his diaper.

Most children with Autism or Spectrum Disorders also have SID. They are either Hyper or Hypo sensitve to stimuli.

BeccaBoo's avatar

I have to say that after a long chat with my child’s pediatric doctor, we had decided that there are a huge amount of males that could fit into the categories of Aspergers, ADHA and ADD. The whole idea is that they’re not and to filter out the ones that are.

If you go along to groups with your child that has one of these said problems, and mingle with the parents that deal with them on a daily basis, you clearly begin to realise that actually your child is no more hyper than the next, no more bored or attention seeking.

Alot of boys are hyper by nature, have short attention span’s or repeat things all the time, mine are no different. I could have all my kids diagnosed with something, especially as they already have a brother who is clearly Autistic, (his father and his uncle could have fitted into the Asperger’s category so easily, but they say its not genetic!) but I haven’t, as they are growing up they are changing, becoming more focused on sports and academics.

I have met several young men with Asperger’s (who really have it) and there behaviour is completely different to these kids that are given the label just because their parents can’t cope and need to put it down to something!!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@BeccaBoo And when we did group things with our son…even at age 8 to 9 mos our son was the “different” one. We could see the signs early on.

Our son was not hyperactive at all prior to age 3 or 4. That said, he was quite different from the other kids.

How many kids do you know at age 1 & ½ that ask you to “translate” what the “baby” is saying to him? —My son did this regularly from 1.5yrs until about 3.5 yrs…he called all children that “couldn’t speak English” (babies/toddlers using baby talk) babies.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yes, you obviously had a problem…or I should say your son did. Isn’t it heart breaking when they’d be sooo upset and can’t tell you why? I’m not questioning the fact that there really are some serious problems out there. It just seems to me that some parents and the medical community seem to go out of their way to slap a label on a kid. In my example above, the counselor diagnosed my daughter with Autism AND and all in 15 minutes, and was ready to send me to a MD for a prescription….all I was looking for was someone for her to talk to.

jerv's avatar

@BeccaBoo If they say that it’s not genetic then they don’t know a damn thing! That said, it is one of those things where having the gene doesn’t automatically mean you are afflicted.

@Dutchess_III 15 minutes…. and to think that they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me in over 15 years! Seriously though, getting an Autism diagnosis in under three months is highly suspicious, especially since your daughter is far less likely (by about 4-to-1) to be autistic than a person with a Y-chromosome.

Also note that medication is not something that should be considered for anyone with Autism unless it is done carefully. See, we react differently to many things and it’s easy for us to OD since the meds they often dispense are for comorbid afflictions (mostly anxiety) that we only have mild symptoms of. For instance, I was on Paxil briefly, but even the lowest dose was enough to over-correct and make me non-anxious to the point where I was actually a danger to myself. (You should have a little anxiety when you drive; at least enough to care whether you are drifting into the other lane and about to get hit head-on.)

Personally, I would not trust that doctor with my child ever again if I were you.

SpatzieLover's avatar

In our experience, medical professionals wanted to do the opposite of diagnose him. Our family doctor said “all children are different” “many kids are sensitive”...it wasn’t until I went in and handed him a three page typed list of symptoms and situations that he finally agreed we should get some therapy and seek further professional help.

I do understand what your questioning. In some cases this is true. However, as I see it, that boils down to too many kids in a classroom and over-whelmed teaching staffs. The teacher sees one or two kids always acting up…goes to the Principal and the parents with concerns and basically the school decides it’d be best for the “hyper” kid to get meds or get out of that classroom.

^That is a sad situation.

There shouldn’t be a diagnosis of anything without a proper professional sought. No doctor should say “Autism or ADD” without a diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Our own doc said “I think he should see a psychiatrist…hopefully at this age he (the psychiatrist) won’t want to give your son meds for ADD”....

WHAT?! I responded, “No, we’d prefer not to see a psychiatrist as a first option”...so after I got back home, I called a therapy clinic…they had 1 professional that could “deal” with a child at the age of 4…One

Luckily, he was experienced in treating ASD/ADD,SID-etc. As soon as he saw our son, he began making phone calls for us…He found the one psychologist in our area that sees/diagnoses Asperger’s.

So here lies the crux of the problem: there are not enough medical professionals/mental health professionals well versed in these types of disorders. There are too many kids in classrooms with not enough teachers. Due to budget cuts, most school districts have one (some have NONE) very over worked and over-whelmed child psychologist that cannot possibly handle/see all of the kids teachers deem hyper or uncontrollable.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jerv Of course not! But I was just underscoring my point. It’s like an assembly line thing. I just hated it when I was in a class room and a few kids in there would just be drugged to the gills. Their eyes all glassy…it broke my heart. I’d have to be VERY damn sure there was something really, truly wrong with my child before I’d consider putting them on mind-altering drugs, I don’t care HOW convenient it might be for me or the teachers.

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III…or how profitable it is for the doctors.

@SpatzieLover That is an issue. Autism is barely understood even though it’s been known about for decades, and AS is even more obscure as it’s a relatively recent discovery and they have yet to agree on diagnostic criteria for it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes. Plus the parents get money every month for the disabled kid.

BeccaBoo's avatar

@SpatzieLover Completely agree that there are not enough specialist, qualified doctors, psychiatrists out there that specialise in dealing with this. There are far too many GP’s that throw the words out there, and schools jumping on the band wagon and encouraging parents just to stick labels on.

I know when my son was going in for his (he is severely Autistic, with limited speech, touch and is sensitive to sound, light, heat, touch etc) diagnosis, my doctor said he would need to be about 5 before they can confirm exactly how to compare and when he falls on the spectrum. Although he had an initial diagnosis when he was 3, nothing was ever set in stone.

I would take Zac to groups with “other” children that were supposed to be like him, my 8 yr old would be playing along with these children, while Zac (my son with ASD) was alone, isolated and screaming and crying because he could clearly not cope with the other children screaming and running about. Made me laugh really because it reminded me of a kids play barn. Although some children may not display these symptoms more clearly and vividly than others there are a lot of cases where is is clear that mum or dad just can’t be bothered and would rather have a label on their child than deal with issues that are fairly minor.

My son has this conditions for life, he is never going to grow up, get married, have kids of his own, hold a job etc. It saddens me to hear that parents are happy for their kids to be labeled like this! The reality of having a child with disabilities is so different.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow @BeccaBoo…my heart goes out to your family.

I knew a girl once who insisted her unborn son was going to be ADHD because his father was. So….he was pretty much raised with that expectation.

thesparrow's avatar

White people and non-immigrants have a tendency to suffer from these illnesses more (maybe because they believe in them, whereas an immigrant family will slap their kid upside the head if they don’t get A’s).

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, because actually we’re often too slow to diagnose parents of kids as having some sort of emotional issue.

JLeslie's avatar

@thesparrow An immigrant family is more likely to slap their kid upside the head? I disagree. An immigrant family might have less access to healthcare, competent teachers, and be less educated themselves on these matters. Possibly. But, the hitting, I Have a lot of black and white people around me all keen on corporal punishment, and their families have been here for generations.

thesparrow's avatar

My family has plenty of access to healthcare, but we’ve got a Polish doctor who discourages my dad from taking blood pressure pills

thesparrow's avatar

‘They no sick. Child need beating on head. In Russia, ADD have child.’

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