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The ADHD Advantage

What you Thought Was a Diagnosis May Be Your Greatest Strength

By Dale Archer, MD
9-minute read
Audio available
The ADHD Advantage: What you Thought Was a Diagnosis May Be Your Greatest Strength by Dale Archer, MD

The ADHD Advantage (2015) provides new insights into ADHD, debunking false assumptions and unveiling the positive sides of this condition. These blinks explore how anyone with ADHD – children, young people and professionals alike – can be nurtured and supported to reach their full potential.

  • Parents of children with ADHD seeking a different perspective on the condition
  • Teachers who want to support children with ADHD in the classroom
  • Anyone who’s struggled with ADHD

Dale Archer is a Medical Doctor, a board-certified Psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has run his own private psychiatric practice for 25 years, and was recently appointed by the Governor of Louisiana to serve on the Medical Advisory Board. In 2013, he published Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional, a New York Times best seller.

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The ADHD Advantage

What you Thought Was a Diagnosis May Be Your Greatest Strength

By Dale Archer, MD
  • Read in 9 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 5 key ideas
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The ADHD Advantage: What you Thought Was a Diagnosis May Be Your Greatest Strength by Dale Archer, MD
Synopsis

The ADHD Advantage (2015) provides new insights into ADHD, debunking false assumptions and unveiling the positive sides of this condition. These blinks explore how anyone with ADHD – children, young people and professionals alike – can be nurtured and supported to reach their full potential.

Key idea 1 of 5

ADHD is seen as a terrible affliction and is extremely overdiagnosed.

ADHD is often considered a serious medical epidemic that’s currently sweeping America. Being diagnosed with ADHD is viewed as a curse that can break up relationships and tear families apart.

However, all is not as it seems when it comes to this disorder.

The reality is that ADHD is massively overdiagnosed. There are, of course, clinical cases of ADHD that should be treated as such. But the number of misdiagnoses is shocking. Research has revealed that as many as 1.1 million children and young people in the United States have been diagnosed inappropriately.

Why does this happen?

Well, the reasons are fairly easy to pinpoint. For one, the criteria used in diagnosing ADHD are poorly formulated, and based on the assumption that cases of ADHD are black-and-white. If an individual exhibits five out of twelve possible ADHD symptoms, they don’t have ADHD. But just one additional point leads to a positive diagnosis. This leaves no room for the fluctuating and diverse nature of the condition. ADHD occurs on a spectrum, and so should be diagnosed according to a continuous scale.

On top of this, the list of symptoms itself is flawed. ADHD symptoms are based on subjective observations by parents and doctors. Evaluative statements such as “Is often easily distracted” or “Often fails to pay close attention to details” are based on how a child’s behavior appears to the observer, which often makes diagnoses unclear and uncertain. Moreover, some symptoms don’t belong on the list at all. Hyperactivity – typically associated with ADHD – is something exhibited by nearly every child, and most grow out of it.

Finally, there are far too few ADHD specialists. There are only about 8,300 of them in the United States. Compare that with the number of family doctors – roughly 54,000 – and you see the problem. Because of this, family doctors often make diagnoses, and their lack of experience in the field makes a misdiagnosis all the more likely.

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