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The Centers for Disease Control first attempted to tally ADHD cases in 1997 and found that about 3 percent of American schoolchildren had received the diagnosis, a number that seemed roughly in line with past estimates.

"I don't think there's an epidemic of new cases," says Mario Saltarelli, a neurologist and the senior vice-president of clinical development at Shire, which manufactures Adderall and Vyvanse.

Boys are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed as girls—15.1 percent to 6.7 percent.

By high school, even more boys are diagnosed—nearly one in five. And overall, of the children in this country who are told they suffer from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, two thirds are on prescription drugs.

Imagine him shivering because he hasn't eaten all day because he isn't hungry. Because a doctor examined him for twelve minutes, looked at a questionnaire on which you had checked some boxes, listened to your brief and vague report that he seemed to have trouble sitting still in kindergarten, made a diagnosis for a disorder the boy doesn't have, and wrote a prescription for a powerful drug he doesn't need.

If you have a son in America, there is an alarming probability that this has happened or will happen to you. The number of children who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder—overwhelmingly boys—in the United States has climbed at an astonishing rate over a relatively short period of time.

It was a stimulant, so called because it heightened the brain's utilization of dopamine, which can improve attention and concentration.

The active ingredient was a highly addictive compound called methylphenidate. By 1987, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) had settled on a more refined name for a disorder among children who exhibited the same set of symptoms, including trouble concentrating and impulsive behavior: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. At the time, in American schools, it was still considered unusual for a child to take Ritalin. Today, it has simply become a default method for dealing with a "difficult" child."We are pathologizing boyhood," says Ned Hallo-well, a psychiatrist who has been diagnosed with ADHD himself and has cowritten two books about it, "God bless the women's movement—we needed it—but what's happened is, particularly in schools where most of the teachers are women, there's been a general girlification of elementary school, where any kind of disruptive behavior is sinful.

That among the 6.4 million are a significant percentage of boys who are swallowing pills every day for a disorder they don't have. Many believe that medicine should be the first treatment, either combined with behavioral therapy or not.

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29-Jun-2020 12:12