The youngest children in classrooms are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than their older classmates…

The diagnoses are usually based in large part on teacher reports of a child’s behaviour, according to latest Australian-led research.

“It appears that across the globe some teachers are mistaking the immaturity of the youngest children in their class for ADHD. Although teachers don’t diagnose it, they are often the first to suggest a child may have ADHD,” Curtin University’s Dr. Martin Whitely, who led the report on the latest findings on the chronic condition that includes attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, said in a statement on Monday.

There are no biological markers or physical tests for ADHD and the teachers’ reports can form much of the basis for the diagnoses, said Whitely.

The study covered more than 14 million children from places such as the United States, Germany, Israel, Norway and Australia, and found it was more common for the youngest children in a classroom to be diagnosed with ADHD and medicated, according to the researchers.

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The study found it was more common for the youngest children in a classroom to be diagnosed with ADHD and medicated

Age has a huge impact on a child’s behaviour in a classroom situation

The findings highlighted the importance of teachers, doctors and parents being aware of the impact of relative age and giving the youngest children in class the extra time they needed to mature, said the University of Adelaide’s Professor Jon Jureidini, who co-wrote the report published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

“Mistaking perfectly normal age-related immaturity for ADHD is just one of many problems with the label. Children who are sleep deprived, bullied, have suffered abuse or have a host of other problems, often get labelled ADHD,” said Jureidini.

“Not only does this result in them getting potentially harmful drugs they don’t need, but their real problems don’t get identified and addressed.”

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Author: ANA Newswire