Research shows that a child’s birth month plays a significant role in the diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It has been proven in a recent study that students who are born in August run a much higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD.
You are probably wondering how being born in August would predispose a child to this diagnosis? Is it the weather? Does it have something to do with the child’s astrological sign?
The answer to this question is actually quite simple and less mystical than you may think.
First, what is ADHD? Simply put, ADHD is the inability for people to focus or pay attention for a period of time appropriate for their age and developmental stage. It is also accompanied by the inability to control impulses and, in some cases, hyperactivity—being overly active.
Approximately 10% of all children are diagnosed with ADHD. Of that number, boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Most children are diagnosed with this disorder somewhere between the ages of 6 and 11. There is no cure for ADHD, but occupational therapy, lifestyle modifications, and in some cases, medication, can help manage the symptoms.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what ADHD is let’s delve into how and why children born in August are more likely to be diagnosed than those born at other times of the year.
The answer to this question is directly tied to when kids start school. In America, the school year begins sometime between mid-August and late September. Students entering kindergarten must turn 5 before a certain date. In most states this is sometime in August or early September. Children whose birthdays fall in August are the youngest in their class. In some cases, they are almost an entire year younger than their classmates.
This is significant. In young children, an age differences of just a few months makes a huge difference.
Compare the maturity, activity level, and attention span of a one-year-old to that of an 18-month-old. The gap is massive. This gap decreases as children get older and it becomes less of a factor. However, there is a substantial difference between a child who just turned five and one that is six. The younger kids have a shorter attention span, obviously.
Unfortunately, this is more likely to lead to an ADHD misdiagnosis.
A study was conducted in Taiwan and research proved that preschool and school age children born in August were more likely to be diagnosed and medicated for ADHD than students born just one month later. Researchers in North Carolina University conducted a similar study and concluded that a child’s maturation plays a role in ADHD diagnosis:
“We believe that younger children may be mistakenly diagnosed as having ADHD, when in fact they are simply less mature.”
Researchers are begging that other factors be considered before a child is diagnosed, labeled and medicated. There are so many side-effects and repercussions that an alarming amount of children are saddled with unnecessarily.
The misdiagnosis and over-medication of ADHD in our culture has reached epidemic proportions. The only way to contain this epidemic is through education and empowerment. Educating and empowering parents and teachers to understand this diagnosis and properly deal with students who are less mature than their older counterparts is key.
Knowledge is power.