Relatively Younger Age Leads to ADHD Diagnosis


A study of 378,881 subjects aged 4-17 years by the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database found that the likelihood of receiving an ADHD diagnosis and treatment was higher for those born in August (the youngest) compared with those who were born in September (the oldest). The researchers conclude that “relative age, as an indicator of neurocognitive maturity, is crucial in the risk of being diagnosed with ADHD and receiving ADHD medication among children and adolescents. Our findings emphasize the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication for treating ADHD.”

Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Taiwanese Children. Journal of Pediatrics, Published online March 10, 2016

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Younger age is one of the many things which lead to and is linked to ADHD… along with cycles of the moon, horoscopes, the movement of the tides, how the psychiatrist is feeling on that particular day, what psychiatrist the kid happens to go to, how much the psychiatrist needs to get a client by prescribing Ritalin, and so on…

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  2. Its complete insanity giving children those ADHD drugs.

    I have the diagnosis and can also tell you that although the drugs are calming and focusing they feel like cocaine. Yes I did cocaine lots of times back in the day when me and my buddies were “party animals”, sue me.

    IMO Adderal and Ritalin are better than cocaine if you are looking for that kind of high or want to keep drinking till closing time and stay sharp. Ritalin feels more like cocaine than adderall , Vyvanse and the other amphetamine based ADHD drugs cause its like a ‘stupider’ high.

    This is the part where readers discredit what I am saying because to get high I must have been abusing it and not taking it as directed. B.S ! the normally prescribed effective dose IS the get high dose. There is a cieling so taking a whole lot of it actually kind of ruins it.

    Sorry all you Adderall junkies, I am not going along with the lie “If you have ADHD the pills don’t get you high” I used to play along and tell people that too.

    I see nothing wrong with adults using this stuff, I am not one of those ‘war on drugs’ psychos but to subject children to that daily high and that nasty jittery anxiety bugged out crash over and over and over again is just criminal.

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    • The chemical structure of Ritalin is similar to both amphetamines and cocaine, so your description doesn’t surprise me.

      The idea that “if you have ‘ADHD’ the pills don’t get you high” is ludicrous on so many levels! First off, how would you ever determine that when we have no actual way of figuring out who “has ADHD” and who doesn’t. And it’s long been proven (since the late 1970s) that kids not diagnosed with “ADHD” react just the same to stimulants as those who are. Bottom line, the whole idea is based on getting someone marginally high without getting them to be obviously impaired. The “high” of amphetamines at lower dosages is very much what the schools want kids on stimulants to display – narrowed focus, willingness to engage in what would normally be boring activities, lowered need for outside stimulation, reduced socialization. And kids taking stimulants at prescribed dosages also show the same signs of people taking high doses of amphetamines: increased agitation, increased aggression, anxiety/paranoia, and psychotic symptoms. How anyone can pretend that there is a distinction at this late date is beyond me.

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  3. This same finding has been made in Canada and in at least one US state, and I think more than one. There should be no need for further experiments – the jury is in. Some kids get diagnosed with “ADHD” because they’re too young for school and would be totally fine if they enrolled a year later. In the Canadian study, it was over 30%. So about a third of kids “grow out” of “ADHD” with no “treatment” within a year. What would the figures be for two, three, or five years?

    Perhaps this explains why we see short-term improvements in behavior with stimulants but no long-term effect? We’re essentially “treating” varied speeds of development as if it were a disease, instead of recognizing the obvious truth that kids develop at different rates, and some skills may develop earlier or later than the “sacred norm” without being in any way indicative of any kind of problem. Some kids learn to talk at 10 months, others at 20, and they still manage to develop into “normal” adults. Why wouldn’t the same apply to “attentional skills?”

    — Steve

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