I just finished a final argument paper in a composition class which stirred up quite a bit of chatter that I couldn't even finish my presentation. I'm not a doctor, but I feel that it is misdiagnosed so much especially in young children today because elementary teachers create that idea in a parents mind. In turn the parent takes the child to a doctor and asks him to look for signs of hyperactivity, impulsiveness, or inattentiveness which can be any child at times. I think teachers shouldn't have any right to tell a parent what they think is wrong and just tell the parents what the child is doing. I feel it should be policy for teachers not to make any prognosis on a childs disability. They are not experts, heck most doctors these days aren't experts.
I have to disagree that teachers shouldn't tell parents what they think is wrong. Granted, a teacher is not a doctor. A teacher should never try to diagnose a child or push a diagnosis on a parent. However, most teachers are highly trained in the warning signs and symptoms of particular learning disorders. A teacher is likely to be the first to notice certain symptoms and a teacher is often the catalysts in diagnosing problems in children. That's not to say that teachers are always right, but they do notice things that parents might overlook. My niece is a prime example. Her teachers kept telling the family they thought she should be tested for autism. We didn't see the same warning signs they saw in the classroom. The family finally consented to having her tested. Sure enough, she is autistic. With this diagnosis, she has received the help she needed and is now flourishing.
In the case of ADHD, I do believe it is often over diagnosed. However, this doesn't mean that it isn't a real disorder. Some children really do have ADHD and some children really do need medication. It is up to the parent to determine the best avenue of treatment for their child. The teacher can share their observations, but the parent must determine how those observations fit in with their child. Some teachers want elementary age children to sit quietly in a desk in the same room all day. This isn't age appropriate behavior. A child might seem inattentive or easily distracted. If the teacher and the parent can agree to some modification that work (like putting a knee in the chair or standing by their desk rather than sitting), it can help a lot. If this type of modification doesn't help, the child may need other assistance like therapy or medication.
Just because something is over diagnosed doesn't mean it isn't real. Just because some teachers over react or scare parents, doesn't mean that all teachers should be limited in their parent-teacher communications. I really can't agree that teachers shouldn't share what they think is going on with a child. Again, most teachers are highly trained in this area and can be a great asset to both the student and the parent.
Autism is usually examined more closely and slows a childs development. My cousin was diagnosed autistic just to be later diagnosed with Jacobsons disease, which is another chromosome defect. My gripe is not with autism. Back to ADHD, I think something needs to be done to prevent misdiagnosis, maybe setting up a panel of doctors in each state or county who specialize in ADHD in young children, who will give the yay or nay in each case when it involves young children. It is illegal for adults to use drugs but it is legal for an adult to run a narcotic pumping session into our young children for a problem he may or may not even have. They don't run a brain scan to pinpoint the issue.
I understand your post and how it benefits the children that need treatment, and that it really exists and is potentially a barrier from a childs learning and ability to integrate in a social setting like a classroom. The chances are that something is wrong with a child who shows signs and symptoms of ADHD, but they also have been linked with other issues. I just can't fathom how a parent could allow a five year old child to be prescribed a narcotic medication that early in the ballgame. Most adults who are diagnosed with a health issue that poses a threat to their life or well-being will atleast consider having a second opinion. Maybe it should be mandatory for young children to have that second opinion. I know many people who use the narcotic for recreation and soon develop the attributes of someone who has ADD. I have used it a few times a few days in a row and had a difficult time calming down from the withdrawls. Though mine were mild I have seen the withdrawls of a child calming down who was on it for 6 months while a doctor was running a trial and error session on the child to figure out what the actual problem was. When you consider the person that develops ADD from a recreational use of the drug, which also could be linked to drug seeking behavior, it can't be healthy and could only lead into more development issues and possibly a drug seeking behavior later in life.
In addition nobody is going to change the mind of the FDA and how they regulate drugs, because they can't even decide how to regulate juice. Nobody is going to change the mind of a doctor because its a loss of a customer. I think the best place to start is here with the teachers and parents.