Are doctors misdiagnosing children with ADHD?

Kids Attend Camp For Attention Deficit Disorders
Students sit by the fire while camping out at the Center for Attention and Related Disorders camp at the Great Hollow Wilderness School July 30, 2003 in New Fairfield, Connecticut.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

More than 3 million American kids are taking drugs for ADHD. There were only 600,000 children on those drugs 24 years ago.

Parents and experts have questioned whether the disorder, which includes symptoms like difficulty staying focused, paying attention and controlling behavior, is often misdiagnosed due to poor medical attention, advertising campaigns for medications, or pressure on students for high performance.

In an Atlantic article, one doctor suggested we are misdiagnosing trauma as ADHD:

When [Dr Nicole Brown] looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.

"Despite our best efforts in referring them to behavioral therapy and starting them on stimulants, it was hard to get the symptoms under control," she said of treating her patients according to guidelines for ADHD. "I began hypothesizing that perhaps a lot of what we were seeing was more externalizing behavior as a result of family dysfunction or other traumatic experience."

In The Verge, another expert suggests using audio profiling as a solution to misdiagnosis:

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Jorg Langner is a mathematician and musicologist at a Berlin-based company called AudioProfiling. He think ADHD isn't just about movement or ability to focus. That's why his team is working on diagnosing children with ADHD using voice recordings.

"Speech rhythm of an ADHD child" is different from a child without ADHD, he says. "The length of syllables are less equal in length." This is but one example of the measures he makes, and he says that, so far, his team has classified 1,000 previously diagnosed children with "above 90 percent" accuracy.

On The Daily Circuit, we look at the latest research on ADHD and ways it could be easier to diagnose.

If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with ADHD--how thorough was the diagnosis? Are you concerned about the medication that's been prescribed? Leave your comments below.