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Letter: Rosemond is spot-on about ADHD and ADD

Rosemond is spot-on about ADHD and ADD

I agree wholeheartedly with John Rosemond’s recent column in Refresh that ADHD and ADD are sham diagnoses. I have had the same gut feeling ever since I first heard the terms ADHD and ADD used in the late 1980s. The terms didn’t make sense to me then, and they still make no sense to me now.

Here’s why: These diagnoses presume that there is a cognitive dysfunction – that the source of the problem is based on how neurons are processing information. If this is the case, then the stimulus should not matter: if your child can’t concentrate on his math homework, he shouldn’t be able to concentrate on his video games either, or any other external stimuli. The brain doesn’t discriminate between “serious” and “trivial” input. So, if a kid can sit there, hour after hour, playing games, or watching a sci-fi movie, or using his cellphone, he can apply the same focus to other endeavors. He just may not want to because the interest simply isn’t there. The old-fashioned term “temperament” is still meaningful, in this sense. Or else – a horrifying thought to helicopter parents – your child just may not have the aptitude for that particular endeavor.

If you’re not talented at something, and it comes very hard to you, you are likely to be quite averse to engaging that thing very often. If you’re talented at that thing, you tend to stay with it; you devote time and concentration because you are rewarded – being good at something you enjoy is reinforcing.

Finally, another old-fashioned term, “hyper,” describes the sort of pre-adolescent nervous energy that many children have quite naturally – it’s partly hormonal and partly temperamental. There’s no need for a cognitive dysfunction category to “explain” this sort of behavior in kids. It’s just a way for the AMA and pharmaceutical companies to make loads of money.

Martin Penkala


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