Figures exclusively obtained by the Guardian show that children in England are being under-treated for ADHD – not over-treated, as previously claimed.

Ofstead’s chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, claimed in June of this year that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were being prescribed Ritalin, while underlying behavioural issues were not also treated.

However, figures obtained by the Guardian from the NHS Business Services Authority show that while global estimates that 5.3% of children have ADHD, only 1.5% of boys and 0.35% of girls in the six to 17 age group had been received a prescription for ADHD medication.

In June, the Times reported that the prescription of ADHD medication was referred to as a “chemical cosh,” with concerns raised that they were merely being used to control children’s bad behaviour.

In August, a statement received by the Guardian from Spielman said that she was “concerned” regarding medical studies which had raised the possibility of the over-diagnosis of ADHD, and she was “concerned that we may sometimes be dealing with the symptoms of bad behaviour without addressing the underlying issues.”

However, the Guardian’s figures raise new concern, with the discovery that less than 20% of the treatments prescribed being for girls, necessitating the requirement to challenge the stigma that ADHD exclusively affects boys.

Speaking to the Guardian, Jo Platt, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on ADHD, said: “ADHD affects girls just as it affects boys but due to the stigma and common misconception that ADHD is just naughty kids playing up, instead of the neurodevelopmental condition that it is, we know that girls can often slip through the net, struggling in school and in their personal lives without the support they need.

“That is why we urgently need intervention to firstly increase the support services offered to both children and adults, but also tackle the stigma around ADHD.”

Image: Flickr/Unfolded

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