In a recent podcast recorded by Dr. John T. Walkup of Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (January 2014), he chatted about the CDC’s latest findings on treatment and management of ADHD with Dr. Susan Visser. She is a CDC expert and the lead author on research related to generating population-based estimates of ADHD, rates of medication treatment among youth with ADHD, and factors associated with ADHD medication treatment, shared the latest trends in ADHD about diagnosis and treatment.
I heard the 20 minute podcast and then followed up by reading some pretty startling facts about the new survey and report called, “Trends in the Parent-Report of Health Care Provider-Diagnosed and Medicated ADHD: United States, 2003—2011.” You can find the podcast I listened to here at Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology.
Dr. Visser discussed several trends in research that she and her team use help inform policy makers and other stakeholders using data while working with students and teens with ADHD, Autism. and other childhood disorders. She and her team have monitored and reported on the trends happening with the CDC since 2003. I will attempt to share the how this information impacts parents of ADHD children and may impact decision making for your family.
What the Trends Are Telling Us About Our Children
With all of the misinformation out there about ADHD the legitimacy of the actual diagnosis including the hysteria about over-treatment, I found this article pretty telling which I excerpt here. Check it out the full CDC article called Key Findings: Trends in the Parent-Report of Health Care Provider-Diagnosis and Medication Treatment for ADHD: United States, 2003—2011:
More than 1 in 10 (11%) US school-aged children had received an ADHD diagnosis by a health care provider by 2011, as reported by parents.
The percentage of US children 4-17 years of age with an ADHD diagnosis by a health care provider, as reported by parents, continues to increase.
The percentage of children 4-17 years of age taking medication for ADHD, as reported by parents, increased by 28% between 2007 and 2011.
The average age of ADHD diagnosis was 7 years of age, but children reported by their parents as having more severe ADHD were diagnosed earlier.
More US children were reported by their parents to be receiving ADHD treatment in 2011 compared to 2007, however treatment gaps may exist.
The patterns in ADHD diagnosis and medication treatment showed increases in the percentages overall, however some new patterns emerged between 2007 and 2011.
The number of US families impacted by ADHD continues to increase.
Putting this Report in Context for Parents
This report shares the raw facts about ADHD and the impact on diagnosis and the treatment gap that still remains. There is no question that ADHD is real and has real implications for children and families if left untreated. My take-aways after listening and working with families are these:
Questions Still Out There
The data is always telling but listening to Dr. Visser state that this research is used to monitor health of children and young adults, help with policy making at the state and national level, and determine support and training for groups working with ADHD children and teens. She has some follow up studies scheduled and concedes that a part of the ADHD diagnosis is about “impairment” which is the much more subjective part of the diagnosis than meeting a checklist of symptoms.
She also shared some fascinating information about ADHD prevalence which can be variable across the US due to so many reasons including: the population and demographics of the regions, the implementation of health care policy including Special Education policy and funding; access to health care doctors , the levels of poverty and ethnic groups, and cultural differences in the acceptance as ADHD diagnosis.
I’m looking forward to this follow up survey and even more detailed information about ADHD rather than the opinion pieces of media savvy editors who continue to use ADHD as a “marketing tool” to increase readership.