THE MYTH OF ADHD
By Joel Turtel
November 27, 2005
The vast majority of Ritalin and Adderall is given to school children to treat an alleged disease called ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Children who suffer from ADHD are said to be inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive. They often get bored easily in class, squirm in their seats, are always on the go, or don't get along with other students or the teacher. In other words, many children diagnosed with ADHD may simply be normal kids, full of energy, and bored out of their minds sitting in mind-numbing, public-school classrooms.
In his testimony to the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee, Bruce Wiseman, National President of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, stated that "thousands of children put on psychiatric drugs are simply 'smart.'" He quoted the late Sydney Walker, a psychiatrist and neurologist, as saying, "They're hyper not because their brains don't work right, but because they spend most of the day waiting for slower students to catch up with them. These students are bored to tears, and people who are bored fidget, wiggle, scratch, stretch, and (especially if they are boys) start looking for ways to get into trouble."
Boredom is not the only reason children can exhibit symptoms of ADHD. Perfectly normal children who are over-active (have a lot of energy), rebellious, impulsive, day-dreamers, sensitive, undisciplined, bored easily (because they are bright), slow in learning, immature, troubled (for any number of reasons), learning disabled (dyslexia, for example), can also be inattentive, impulsive, or hyperactive.
Many factors outside the classroom can stress or emotionally affect children, causing some children to exhibit ADHD-like 'symptoms.' Some of these factors are: not getting love, closeness, or attention from their parents; if a parent, friend, or sibling is sick or dies; if the parents are divorcing and there is anger, shouting, or conflict at home; domestic violence at home; sexual, physical, or emotional abuse by parents or siblings; inattention and neglect at home; personality clashes with parents or siblings; envy or cruelty directed at a child by classmates or by siblings at home, and many other factors.
Also, many other medical conditions can cause children to mimic some or all of ADHD's symptoms. Some of these conditions are: Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), allergies, learning disabilities, hyper or hypothyroidism, hearing and vision problems, mild to high lead levels, spinal problems, toxin exposures, carbon monoxide poisoning, metabolic disorders, genetic defects, sleeping disorders, post-traumatic subclinical seizure disorder, high mercury levels, iron deficiency, B-vitamin deficiencies (from poor diet), Tourette's syndrome, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, early-onset diabetes, heart disease, cardiac conditions, early-onset bipolar disorder, worms, viral and bacterial infections, malnutrition or improper diet, head injuries, lack of exercise, and many others.
Because these medical conditions can cause some or all of ADHD's symptoms, it becomes next to impossible for any teacher, principal, or family doctor to claim with any certainty that a child has ADHD. To be certain, a doctor would have to test the child for all these other possible medical conditions. Since parents or doctors don't do this, every diagnosis of ADHD is suspect, to say the least.
Any of these medical conditions, normal personality variations, emotional problems, or outside-the-classroom stress-factors can disturb a child's attention, natural enthusiasm, or desire to learn in class, and make the child exhibit symptoms of ADHD. Yet, as psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, author of "Talking Back To Ritalin," and director of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, notes, "These are the types of children who get diagnosed as suffering ADHD and who get subdued with stimulants and other medications."
Many reputable authorities deny that ADHD, the disorder for which Ritalin is most commonly prescribed, even exists. According to Breggin in "Talking Back To Ritalin,"
"There are no objective diagnostic criteria for ADHD . . . no physical symptoms, no neurological signs, and no blood tests. ADHD and Ritalin are American and Canadian medical fads. The U.S. uses 90 % of the world's Ritalin. . .there is no solid evidence that ADHD is a genuine disorder or disease of any kind . . . there is no proof of any physical abnormalities in the brains or bodies of children who are routinely labeled ADHD. They do not have known biochemical imbalances or 'crossed wires'. . . ADHD is a controversial diagnosis with little or no scientific basis. . . A parent, teacher, or doctor can feel in good company when utterly dismissing the diagnosis and refusing to apply it to children."
Many other medical professionals agree with Dr. Breggin. William Carey, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that:
"The behaviors associated with ADHD diagnosis reflect a continuum or spectrum of normal temperaments rather than a disorder." He declared that, "ADHD appears to be a set of normal behavioral variations" that lead to "dissonant environmental interactions." That is, when the varied but normal temperaments of children bring them into conflict with parents and teachers, the adults try to end the conflicts by diagnosing the children with ADHD."
In other words, by labeling these normal personality traits of children a "disease," public school authorities in many states can now pressure parents to give their children mind-altering drugs to make the kids "behave" in class. This is a classic case of blaming the victim, the children, for public schools' education deficit disorder.
Parents, do not fall for the ADHD arguments that some public school authorities are now attempting to foist on you and your children. Although a few children do exhibit extreme "symptoms" of ADHD, for most normal kids ADHD turns out to be a questionable "disease" at best, and a bogus disease at worst. Many public schools now use this alleged ADHD disease as a convenient excuse to pressure parents to give their normal but bored or high-energy children mind-altering drugs. [Read: The Myth of ADHD]
Parents, do not succumb to the temptation to drug your children with mind-altering drugs because a public-school teacher or school nurse tells you that your child is not "behaving properly" or "paying attention" in class. There are many other ways to deal with children's "behavior" problems in school besides drugging your children. One of the best ways is to take your children out of public school so they aren't bored to death sitting in public school classrooms. When children get engrossed in learning in a stimulating homeschool environment, they are far less likely to misbehave.
© 2005 Joel Turtel - All Rights
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Joel Turtel, author of Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children, holds a degree in Psychology. For the last ten years he has served as an Education Policy Analyst, studying the climate of today's public schools and its effect on children and parents.
Mr. Turtel has written two books, published over fifty articles, and has been interviewed in both print and broadcast media on the subject. His latest book, Public Schools, Public Menace has garnered national media attention – recently, for example, Dr. Laura Schlessinger featured the boook on her nationally syndicated radio show.
Joel Turtel is available to discuss his book Public Schools, Public Menace in the media, at conferences, or with individual groups. Be warned though, you may be shocked by the revelations he has uncovered in America's public-school system.
One of the best ways is to take your children out of public school so they aren't bored to death sitting in public school classrooms...