Subject: Psychology and Education
Language: English (U.S.)
Pages: 1
) ADHD, Autism and Asperger’s: Overdiagnosed? First, read Chapter 12 "Defining Psychological Disorders", section 12.3 Diagnosis or Overdiagnisis? ADHD, Autistic Disorder and Asperger’s Disorder. Next, go the Chapter 13 on “Treating Psychological Disorders”, section 13.1, and you will see the Criteria for Diagnosing ADHD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Consider the diagnosis of ADHD, autism, and Asperger’s disorder from the biological, personal, and social-cultural perspectives. Do you think that these disorders are overdiagnosed? Why or why not? How might clinicians determine if ADHD is dysfunctional or distressing to the individual?

Over-diagnosis of ADHD, Autism, and Asperger’s

Psychologists came up with a criterion known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual presents different behaviors expected in a patient when a clinician is looking for signs of a psychological disorder. It is important to note that the list of behaviors for each particular disorder is not exhaustive. In addition, some behaviors seem to appear in every category of psychological disorder making it extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact psychological disorder that the individual may be suffering from.

Clinicians can determine if ADHD is distressing to the individual if the individual is exhibiting behaviors that are on the DSM. There are two categories of behaviors associated with the ADHD disorder, category A and category B. the first category involves inattention behaviors that have become disruptive and inappropriate, and they have been occurring for more than six months prior to treatment. Category B involves symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity that the individual has been experiencing for more than six months. 

The controversy surrounding ADHD, Asperger’s, and Autism, is that they are being diagnosed more frequently than before. This has led many to believe that they have been over-diagnosed and that the DSM’s ambiguity in specific diagnoses is to blame. Take for instance, the rapid increase in ADHD cases in America whereby currently 1 out of 20 children will be diagnosed with the disorder (Olfson, Gameroff, Marcus &Jensen, 2003). ADHD is usually first diagnosed in children but we cannot say that all children who suffer who do not pay attention are suffering from ADHD. Critics of the DSM model blame psychologists for using ADHD as a ready excuse for any child behavioral problems.

In addition, the ambiguity created by the classification of Asperger’s and Autism has caused a lot of confusion when it comes to diagnosis. The behaviors exhibited amongst both diseases are very similar and sometimes there is no scientific way of determining which disease the child is suffering from leading to thousands of cases of mis-diagnosis. 


Olfson, M., Gameroff, M., Marcus, S., & Jensen, P. (2003). National trends in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 1071-1077.