The increased propagating of fake disorders like attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and quite a few others has done nothing more than to offer a sense of alleviation of personal responsibility among those diagnosed. What ever happened to the concept of self-control?
To truly understand how the diagnosis of such disorders alleviates one of taking personal responsibility, one needs to look no further than the plans in place for those in public schools. In my second year of teaching, I taught an 8th Grade Science class. One of my students was well-grown for an 8th grader. He was both taller and larger in size than any other student in the school. From very early in the school year, he started picking fights with smaller students. By January, this bully had picked six fights, often assaulting other students simply because they looked at him wrong. Because of his ADHD diagnosis, this student had a 504 plan., which specified that he could not be suspended more than 10 days in a school year unless it could be justifiably argued that his behaviors were not a manifestation of his ADHD disability. After the sixth fight, he reached his limit on the number of suspensions and so the time came to determine whether or not his assaulting of other students was a manifestation of his ADHD. It was determined that it was a manifestation, and therefore we could not place him in an alternative setting as we would put students who did not have a disability. It was only two days after the decision was rendered that the student actually showed up to school drunk and yet only received one day of in-school suspension. It turns out that the student’s diagnosis of ADHD practically provided him with a license to get away with murder. Sadly, I imagine that such a story is not so uncommon in public schools.
One would think based on this that the public schools would be hesitant to allow a student to be diagnosed. However, schools have an incentive to get children diagnosed as it means more money coming from the federal government. Schools are not the only beneficiary of the diagnosis. The parent(s) of the diagnosed child receive a $3,000 tax credit.
For the medical companies that sell the drugs to treat these disorders, there is a huge influx of cash. In many cases, the medicine does not work. This results usually in an increase in dosage, thus generating more revenue for those medical companies.
Those who suffer most are not the ones who are diagnosed, but rather the teachers who deal directly with the children. While there are some parents of diagnosed children who are marvelous and will support the teacher regardless, there are many who do not. It is rather frustrating for a teacher to make calls only to get blamed for having a lack of sensitivity towards children with ADHD, ODD, or ADD. Other parents though they may not blame the teacher will deflect all personal responsibility from their child with comments like, “Well, you know it’s part of him having ADHD,” or “I guess I’ll have to talk to the doctor and increase her dosage of medicine to get her more focused.”
While not everyone may agree with me that these disorders are fake, it can be agreed upon that they are heavily over-diagnosed. In order for a child to be diagnosed ADHD, a form must be filled out evaluating 14 statements regarding the child’s behavior and focus. These statements range from determining how focused a child is to evaluating the level of difficulty a child has in getting along with authority figures. If 8 of 14 statements are filled out affirmatively, then the child is diagnosed as having ADHD. Could you imagine going to the doctor with concerns that you may have cancer only to be given a checklist to fill out rather than running any empirical tests or scans? “Yes sir, you have 8 of the 14 symptoms of cancer. We are sorry to inform you that you must indeed have a brain tumor.”