The diagnosis of Inattentive ADHD is often missed. Sometimes the person with Inattentive ADHD only receives the diagnosis in adulthood. There are individuals who have had difficulty in school their entire academic career and while scouring the internet for help, they come across a behavioral checklist for Inattentive ADHD (ADHD-I) and realize that this condition is what they have been dealing with all their lives. Many of these individuals have been to therapist and doctors but no one ever suggested to them that they might have ADHD-I.
Unfortunately, Inattentive ADHD is a diagnosis that is hard to come by. Many teachers are aware of the problem but do not know what to call it or are calling it ‘garden variety’ ADHD. Parents of children who are not hyperactive go home, after the parent teacher conference, scratching their heads at a diagnosis of ADHD. They know that their child is not hyperactive and, in their limited understanding of ADHD, kids with this diagnosis are hyperactive. The parent is angry that the teacher has such a limited knowledge of the personality of their child and therein begins the parent/teacher battle.
Unless the teacher explains to the parent, in great detail, that ADHD can exist without hyperactivity, that the spaciness, disorganization, and distraction are part of a bigger academic picture called Inattentive ADHD, then the parent will dismiss the suggestions of the teacher and the child will remain without support and without classroom accommodation for their disability.
In the April “Journal of Attention Disorder” there is a telling study on the state of the diagnosis rate of Inattentive ADHD (ADHD-I). The researchers looked at about 1000, 10 years olds. Eight percent of them had symptoms of ADHD and of these; five percent had the hyperactive/impulsive subtype. Of these kids, most were receiving classroom help. The other three percent had either Inattentive ADHD or combined type ADHD (ADHD-C) and were not receiving any additional classroom support. The researchers concluded that it was imperative to test children early and afford them necessary classroom help so that these children did not worsen and continue to fall behind.
If the DSM V, the psychiatric diagnostic manual, used by the American Psychiatric Association and by psychiatrist around the world, gives ADHD-I its own category, it is possible that the awareness of the inattentive type of ADHD will increase.
Regardless of what you believe about how ADHD-I should be treated, regardless of what you think about how similar or different ADHD-I is from the other subtypes, the fact remains that children with ADHD-I are the least diagnosed children of all the subtypes and the least treated.
Many inattentive kids are not receiving the help that they need because no one understands what it is that they have. The child with symptoms of ADHD-I looks significantly different, in a classroom, from the child with hyperactive impulsive ADHD (ADHD-HI). We have to increase awareness regarding the ‘look’ of the child with ADHD-I. We have to let our teachers and parents know about the symptoms of Inattentive ADHD so that children and adults with this condition are promptly diagnosed and treated. 60 mg vyvanse