Last week, an article was published where a so-called prominent Chicago area doctor claimed that ADHD doesn't actually exist. While his underlying message might have been solid, his flashy headline threatens an already misunderstood condition.
ADHD most certainly does exist, and claiming otherwise is irresponsible when done so by a medical professional. Suggesting ADHD is easily misdiagnosed, while not as sexy of a title, is more accurate and representative of a condition that many don't fully understand.
While the public believes ADHD is nothing more than an excuse for bad parenting, or for the pharmaceutical industry to make billions off of drugging our children, there are real challenges that have been around for well over 100 years. The problem with suggesting that ADHD doesn't exist is a virtual slap in the face to millions of frustrated parents of children struggling at home in and in school.
Child advocate, behavior therapist, and best-selling author, Dr. Rory F. Stern responded to this story by asking, "What message is this professional sending the Moms and Dads who are desperately looking for help, support, and answers as to why their children struggle?" Dr. Stern added, "It's unfortunate this story led with a focus on a sexy headline rather than the real underlying message."
Dr. Stern is referring to the fact that ADHD is typically treated first with medications, when in fact the medical community has guidelines that medication should not be the first line of treatment suggested. In fact, we learned from Dr. Stern that the traditional approach to diagnosing and ADHD is often completely wrong and out of sync with current standards.
He pointed out that ADHD is actually in fact a diagnosis of exclusion, and that any symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are like going to the doctor complaining of a fever. We also learned that ADHD is mistakenly identified as a condition of inattention, when in fact it is a condition of variable attention.
Surprisingly, there is also no one standalone diagnostic test or procedure for ADHD, despite recent suggestions of brain scan technology or computerized tests. The gold standard for an ADHD diagnosis remains to be the careful eye and interview skills of the trained psychiatrist, psychologist, or ADHD expert who is able to identify symptoms and differentiate possible diagnoses from over 50 plus choices.
As public awareness and opinion continues to doubt the validity of ADHD, Dr. Stern informed us that the most effective way to address any issue, regardless of the clarity of diagnosis, is to focus on behavior and try to identify underlying causes that exacerbate the condition.
For more information from Dr. Stern, you can find him online at http://www.HelpYourADHDChild.com and the soon to be open ADHD Gifted Center.