SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Parents want answers after their children were misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at an elementary school in Louisiana.
A kindergarten teacher at Mansfield Elementary School used a Vanderbilt Assessment Scale to screen the students. It indicated that all 12 of her students have ADHD.
While this screening form is not unusual, the teacher wrote “ADHD Confirmed” at the bottom of the document without any intervention from health care professionals.
“The diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is complex,” said LSU Health Shreveport’s Program Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dr. Pamela McPherson. “And it should not be made solely based on a rating scale. “
One mother took the screening form to her son’s pediatrician on Feb. 14th, two days after the teacher sent the letter home.
“After the doctor looked at the evaluation scores on it, he did, confirmed that he had ADHD, and he prescribed me to give him Vyvanse,” says the mother of a 6-year-old boy.
Vyvanse is a drug used to treat patients with ADHD. The effects last between 10 to 12 hours, including sleeplessness and loss of appetite.
The mother said the teacher, who resigned for reasons unknown in May, even suggested times that she should give her son the medication.
Dr. McPherson says ADHD can easily mimic other conditions.
“If a child were exposed to alcohol substances during fetal development, they can present with ADHD symptoms. And even if a child is not sleeping at night, they can appear to have ADHD,” she said.
She says having more than one analysis, like reviewing records and interviewing parents along with the child, is crucial.
“It involves looking at information from pediatricians and schools’ other caregivers.”
In a statement released by the Superintendent of Desoto Parish Schools, Clay Corley, the school was unaware of what the teacher had done. He says it was bought to their attention three months later. The principal then contacted the parents to let them know it wasn’t part of school policy.
“Some of the parents had not received the assessment, and everyone else understood that this was something the teacher did on her own and was not something we do as a part of our normal practices,” the statement reads.
The mom has since taken her son off of Vyvanse and says he’s back to himself again.
“I don’t feel like he has ADHD. He doesn’t have problems with being still or staying focused. He’s very smart. I don’t feel like he should have had it,” she said.
According to Corley, the schools do not perform diagnoses on a child unless requested by the parent or a doctor.