“help diagnose ADHD...” The FDA approved it on the basis of a 275 subject study of children from ages 6 to 17. The diagnostic finding used to confirm the ADHD was the ratio of theta and beta brain waves in an electro-encephalogram that could be done in 15minutes. Evidently children labeled with ADHD are reported to have a different ratio than the general population.
You can find the research paper that the company released on the day of the approval by going to http://www.nebahealth.com/results.htm.
The FDA and the company involved state that the use of this EEG measurement will make the single clinician more accurate to the tune of 88% versus 60 percent of the time. Now this accuracy is judged against what a multidisciplinary team of individuals would say about the patient. That means the test is 88% as accurate as several clinicians getting together and giving us their opinion. So, we still do not have an accurate test that can make the diagnosis most every time in everyone who has it. That is true because to this date no one has defined the pathology that is supposed to cause ADHD.
Now, the test itself may be valuable in that the company says it can reduce by 34% the number of individuals who are
wrongly diagnosed as having ADHD. If it does, that will be a blessing to those who have struggles but do not need the added burden of the side effects of the ADHD medications. But, there is one more benefit that could be derived from a test like this.
The test may be telling us that children who appear to have ADHD symptoms are different but not necessarily ill. And,
that difference may result in their having difficulty in fitting into routine classroom learning situations. The test cannot tell us that the difference we see in these children is a disease. As one mother told me, the most important decision she made in helping her son who struggled with hyperactivity was when she said, “My son is not broken, and I do not have to fix him.”
The best conclusion we may be able to draw from the study is that these children are different and they need a different approach to education. In my blog on 7/11/2013, I reviewed research that showed that children who take medication for ADHD do not appear to see much improvement in their grades. With both these studies in hand, what we ought to be doing is changing the education setting to one in which these children can learn. And, it will not likely be the traditional “25 student sit at your desk and quietly learn” classroom.