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Children being left untreated for ADHD

They were also concerned an ADHD diagnosis could stigmatise their son, and worried about the possible impacts of medication used to treat it.

As a result, their child went undiagnosed and untreated for almost three years.

"We had our suspicions but it is kind of one of those things where you do not want your kid to be diagnosed with ADHD," Ms Stooke said. "We still live in that society where ADHD is a label that stays with the child.

"We were off to as long as possible because he was doing academically but socially there were problems." He lacked empathy. "

Ms Stooke wants to change her family's life.

Her nine-year-old son takes Ritalin, sees a paediatrician every six months and is thriving at school. He will likely be on medication till age 24 and will one day be a functioning, adult member of society.

"After having the prescription for four months deciding if we should give him the medicine, we started him on a low dose of Ritalin and within three days the effects were obvious," she said. "He was calm and there was a lot less noise coming from him. Others could see it too.

"That was a big win for us, we instantly saw the benefit His teacher said he was not the naughty kid who was disrupting everyone He could sit and listen and do his work It's completely changed the classroom dynamic."

He sometimes sleeps an hour or two less than he must and his appetite can be surpressed but these side-effects pale into comparison with the improvement in his life, she said.

A recent Murdoch Children's Research Institute a study shows Victorian children are being under-diagnosed with ADHD and under-treated.

The study, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology in December, screened 3700 seven year olds from 43 schools across Melbourne for ADHD.

It found 179 children who could be diagnosed with ADHD, but that only 17 per cent of them were clinically diagnosed with the condition and only 14 per cent of those were taking medication.

By age 10, 38 per cent of those children were clinically diagnosed and 26 per cent of those were taking medication.

Lead author and clinician scientist Associate Professor Daryl Efron said ADHD medication was safe, effective and backed by a large body of scientific evidence. Its use must be monitored, he said, butr stressed there was no evidence it was over-prescribed in Australia, as it had been in the United States.

"Some children are not taken for an assessment because it is an emotional response It is an emotional response. the best treatment. "

Associate Professor Efron said children with ADHD would have a better life if properly treated.

"It's not a trivial problem," he said. "It is a problem that should be identified as early as possible and these kids deserve to be identified early and helped early.

"Our findings suggest more children should be referred for assessment It's important for those kids to get that get help as early as possible."

Anthony is a reporter at The Age

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