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Ritalin Debate: Some Experts Doubt Existence of ADHD
Cybercast News Service (CNSNews.com) ^ | April 18, 2003 | Patrick Goodenough

Posted on 04/18/2003 12:38:09 PM PDT by FreeRadical

Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - The debate over attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the drugging of children diagnosed with it has been rekindled in Australia, one of several countries to have followed the U.S. trend over recent decades.

A youth conference in the eastern city of Brisbane this week was told that no proof has been found that ADHD exists at all.

U.S. psychologist Dr. Bob Jacobs told the Youth Affairs Network Queensland conference that doctors and pharmaceutical companies had turned behavioral problems in children into a disorder.

He voiced concern that misdiagnoses resulted in youngsters being prescribed powerful drugs like Ritalin, which may affect their long-term mental and physical development.

In a radio interview afterwards, Jacobs - who is on the advisory board of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology - said his conclusions had been made as a result of his own observations during many years in practice, working with children and families.

He cited cases where parents reported that their ADHD-diagnosed children could not pay attention - but then those same children could play video games for hours without being distracted.

Sometimes where parents made changes in the way they were doing things, the symptoms would go away.

"A real disease doesn't go away when somebody else does something," he argued.

Jacobs said experts had put labels on different behaviors and called them a disease.

"There's no proof. Nobody has ever presented any evidence of a condition called ADHD, except to say all these children are hyperactive; all these children are inattentive, and therefore they all have the disease. It's the 'and therefore' that I'm concerned about."

Jacobs acknowledged that many parents would disagree with him. Parents tend to believe what has become the mainstream view, in part because the drugs prescribed for ADHD do work in that they make the child more docile and more compliant.

"The child's not getting into trouble at school any more. The child's easier to manage at home, so we say, well this is great, it works."

Also, parents struggling with a behavior problem were made to feel better. Instead of feeling inadequate as parents, they felt they were now struggling with a sick child and doing the best they could.

Money trail

In the United States in 2001, pharmaceutical companies made more than $600 million in profits just on stimulant drugs used for attention deficit disorders.

"If ADHD doesn't exist, those hundreds of millions of dollars in profits go away."

"You have to follow the money," agreed Peyton Knight, legislative director at the American Policy Center, a Virginia-based think tank.

"It's big money," he said by phone late Thursday. "The more diagnoses there are every year the more Ritalin and other mind-altering drugs they are going to be able to market and sell."

Many would vehemently disagree with the arguments against the existence of ADHD, he said.

"But it's never been validated as a disease," Knight said. "It's arbitrary."

"The number of diagnoses has risen exponentially over the past decade. It's not like some epidemic is sweeping the nation like a flu virus. It's just a matter of diagnoses going up because of the popularity of diagnosing children with ADHD," he said.

"In today's society, parents look for the easy way out. If their kids are unruly, we give them a pill and it sedates them. That becomes a very easy thing to do and if a doctor tells them to do this, they feel good about it."

Knight said there was a fairly sizeable grassroots citizens' movement in the United States questioning these issues, and more parents and teachers were becoming aware of the problems.

Unfortunately a similar movement had yet to take hold in the scientific community, although there were some bold specialists who disagreed with the wider-held views.

One of them is neurologist Dr. Fred Baughman Jr., who in a 1998 letter to the then Attorney General Janet Reno, called the representation of ADHD as a disease and the drugging of millions of normal children "the single, biggest heath care fraud in U.S. history."

Massive increase in drug use

According to Baughman, 500,000 children were diagnosed ADHD in 1985 and between 5 and 7 million were today.

Substantial growth has also been reported in Australia, a country of just 19 million people, where it's estimated that at least 50,000 children are now on drugs prescribed for ADHD.

A report in the Medical Journal of Australia last November said Australia and New Zealand have the third-highest rate in the world of the drug use, after the United States and Canada.

Unlike the United States, where Ritalin (methylphenidate) is most often prescribed, in Australia dexamphetamine is more widely used.

University of Queensland figures show that legal use of dexamphetamine in Australia has risen from 8.3 million tablets prescribed in 1984 to 38.4 million tablets in 2001. Over the same period Ritalin prescriptions rose from 1.5 million tablets to 19.3 million.

The federal government early this year approved use in Australia of long-acting Ritalin-LA, which is said to be effective for longer than the usual four-hour period for standard Ritalin.

Rosemary Boon, a child psychologist in Sydney for more than 20 years, acknowledged in a recent article that the drugs were effective in settling the child and this benefited teachers, parents and classmates. But there was little benefit to the afflicted child, she added.

Boon does not argue that ADHD doesn't exist, but says it can be managed with the help of diet, exercise, behavior modification, stress management, identification of "triggers" of the symptoms, and a supportive family environment.

Critics list among the problems with drugs like Ritalin the fact children on them tend not to grow as tall as they might otherwise. There are also concerns that a child's intelligence, creativity and spontaneity may be dampened.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists says medication should not be the first line of intervention for the vast majority of children. Alternatives should be looked into first.

On its website, Novartis, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Ritalin, describes ADHD as "a physical disorder caused by differences in how the child's brain works."

Novartis has an article in the April-May edition of its journal, Pathways, arguing for the existence of ADHD.

It quotes Prof. Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina as saying that ADHD is not overdiagnosed in the United States.

"We have more diagnosis now than before due to better public awareness and greater referrals," he said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: adhd; australia; drugs; education; health; ritalin; youth
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Putting this up asap to avoid double post, back in 10 with crosslinks to related material.....
1 posted on 04/18/2003 12:38:09 PM PDT by FreeRadical
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To: FreeRadical
Count me in among the concerned. Kids being force-fed something an adult could spend years in jail for unlawfully possessing... there is something wrong with this picture, and it's not a healthy sign.
2 posted on 04/18/2003 12:42:24 PM PDT by thoughtomator (I predict hysteria at the UN)
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To: FreeRadical
Well, I was a 'hyperactive' kid, inattentive, unruly, non-compliant, etc... and I never had to take any pharmaceuticals to change my behavior - and yet, now I am a responsible, well-adjusted adult... ;0)
3 posted on 04/18/2003 12:43:54 PM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (Some days, it's just not worth gnawing through the straps...)
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To: FreeRadical
I like Red Foremans cure for ADHD "A foot up your ass!!!"
4 posted on 04/18/2003 12:45:30 PM PDT by HEY4QDEMS
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To: FreeRadical
Here's a little more info:
CNSNews Commentary: Drugging our Children to Death
CNSNews Reporting: Federal Gov Sets up National Center on ADHD

FreeRepublic, related article from Australia:
ADHD just 'bad behaviour': US expert (drug company fraud?)
FreeRepublic, related article from Washington Times, Feb. 2003:
Research Questions Ritalin Use
5 posted on 04/18/2003 12:50:38 PM PDT by FreeRadical (Buy Kids Books & Guns. Help them love liberty & hate the nanny state.)
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To: FreeRadical
I work with kids at 45 different school locations and I can tell you .. the number of kids that are medicated is astounding.. mainly boys. There are so many children that have a terrible time controlling behavior.. When we address behavioral issues with some of the parents .. they tend to say in the presence of their children, that they can't help it.. that either they are on new meds.. they forgot their meds or we should excuse their poor behavior because they are ADHD and that it's part of their 'diagnosis'.. kids are given a pass..

One additional thing, if these kids are diagnosed as ADHD ..they are classified as special needs.. the schools received additional funding for special needs kids and it is in the best interest of the schools to have special needs kids identified.

6 posted on 04/18/2003 12:55:42 PM PDT by Zipporah
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To: FreeRadical
Sometimes where parents made changes in the way they were doing things, the symptoms would go away.

DUH! Parents today are just weenies - trying to "befriend" their darlings and afraid to be parents!

My son was hyper growing up. He was dealt with consistantly and evenly. When he got "wound up" I made sure he did a few laps up and down our street to burn off his excess energy and it always worked.

He also learned the value of discipline. He's a fine adult today and a great parent.

7 posted on 04/18/2003 12:56:07 PM PDT by Humidston (Do not remove this tag under penalty of law)
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To: Zipporah
What percentage of the drugged kids are from single-parent homes?
8 posted on 04/18/2003 12:57:46 PM PDT by bvw
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To: FreeRadical
I have ADD. I know it exists.
9 posted on 04/18/2003 12:59:37 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: FreeRadical
What were we talking about?
10 posted on 04/18/2003 12:59:53 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: FreeRadical
According to Baughman, 500,000 children were diagnosed ADHD in 1985 and between 5 and 7 million were today.

That many diagnoses in one day? Good grief!

11 posted on 04/18/2003 1:00:25 PM PDT by Lil'freeper (;))
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To: bvw
I would say that the majority of medicated kids are from single parent homes. Also, from families that are at-risk.. either being low income or single parent.
12 posted on 04/18/2003 1:02:06 PM PDT by Zipporah
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To: Lazamataz
Yes it does exist.

While I'm sure that the drugs are overused as behavioral restraints, there is an actual neurological problem that is ADHD, that is very painful for the sufferers.

The few instances where it is appropriate and useful should not be disparaged.
13 posted on 04/18/2003 1:04:46 PM PDT by Judith Anne (God bless our soldiers with swift victory...)
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To: Judith Anne
One clue ADD does exist is this: To those who do not suffer from ADD, ritalin acts like a recreational stimulant, somewhat like methamphetamines.

However, to a person such as myself, I get NO recreational drug effect from ritalin. All that happens is I can concentrate better.

14 posted on 04/18/2003 1:07:12 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Zipporah
I'm curious to know how many cases of ADD/ADHD are diagnosed at a Military School. hmmmm?
15 posted on 04/18/2003 1:09:22 PM PDT by HEY4QDEMS
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To: HEY4QDEMS
HEY4QDEMS

Everybody's got a cool screen name but me. :o(

16 posted on 04/18/2003 1:11:19 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Lazamataz
How does your belief that you have some condition or another provide proof that it exists?
17 posted on 04/18/2003 1:15:12 PM PDT by US admirer
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To: FreeRadical
My stepson has been diagnosed with ADHD. One interesting bit of info: Once something has his attention, he only focuses on that one thing...everything else is blocked-out completely.
I watched as he walked home from the bus stop after school, and saw that a fly captured his attention...he followed it out into oncoming traffic trying to swat at it. That's just one danger of this "disorder". This helped us decide, with the advice of his doctor, that medications pose the lesser risk.
Now, I'm not an advocate for medicating kids to make life easier on teachers or parents. But in my boy's (Bughunter)case, medications are working--for him.

rook


18 posted on 04/18/2003 1:16:07 PM PDT by Noahs Rook
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To: Judith Anne
The few instances where it is appropriate and useful should not be disparaged.

The problem is that for some folks (such as will soon be crowding this thread), ADD is primarily an ideological issue. As such, its reality must be denied or minimized. We see above, and will see below, all sorts of calls for punishment and discipline instead of medication. For whatever reason, these same folks tend to end up on the public education-bashing threads -- there's a link of some sort.

The fact is, I know several kids who are on medication because they need it. It helps them to function.

19 posted on 04/18/2003 1:16:25 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: US admirer
How does your belief that you have some condition or another provide proof that it exists?

It is anecdotal evidence of an effect observed by independant researchers performing double-blind experiments.

20 posted on 04/18/2003 1:16:54 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Lazamataz
I usually get a remark about me screen name about every three or four months.

When I signed up I was instructed not to use profanity in my handle.

Luckily they let it slide, I'm sure someday some DU troll might hit the abuse button and blow my cover.
21 posted on 04/18/2003 1:18:48 PM PDT by HEY4QDEMS
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To: FreeRadical
Our society has excused virtually all bad behaviour as some sort of malady that requires medication, understanding and out right acceptance.
22 posted on 04/18/2003 1:19:33 PM PDT by PISANO
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To: Lazamataz
What double-blind experiments?
23 posted on 04/18/2003 1:19:39 PM PDT by Al B.
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To: r9etb
The problem is that for some folks (such as will soon be crowding this thread), ADD is primarily an ideological issue. As such, its reality must be denied or minimized.

Sad.

Kinda as if they were ideologically opposed to recognizing the existance of breast cancer, or clinical depression, or whatever else.

I can tell you this, I am hugely and positively effected by ritalin, although I may be going over to another compound shortly. People who have been around me immediately notice a great improvement in my concentration and ability to comprehend verbal instructions when I have been properly medicated. An ADD diagnosis has improved my life beyond measure.

If the naysayers cannot ideologically handle it, joke 'em if they cannot take a f___.

24 posted on 04/18/2003 1:21:21 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Al B.
What double-blind experiments?

Ask my doctor, he showed me some literature on the topic prior to prescribing. I was, naturally, very leery of taking any medication at the time.

25 posted on 04/18/2003 1:23:16 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Noahs Rook
My stepson has been diagnosed with ADHD. One interesting bit of info: Once something has his attention, he only focuses on that one thing...everything else is blocked-out completely.

A doctor described this to me as follows: ADHD is not an inability to concentrate; rather, it's an inability to suppress the impulse to concentrate on more interesting things. For interesting stuff, there's no impulse to focus on something else -- indeed, the impulse is to block out everything else.

For dull stuff (such as schoolwork), the impulse is always to focus on something more interesting. The impulsive behavior is moderated by the uptake of dopamine into the brain. Stimulants allow this to happen, which is why they are used to treat ADHD.

As it happens, a little bit of ADHD isn't necessarily bad -- it spurs creativity, and is apparently very common among very bright people. But it can get to the point where it's impossible to focus on anything at all -- in which case mediction helps.

26 posted on 04/18/2003 1:25:10 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: Humidston
DUH! Parents today are just weenies - trying to "befriend" their darlings and afraid to be parents!

That's an ignorant statement. I'm a parent of a son with ADHD, and I can assure you we are not afraid to parent.

"Hyper" as you describe your son and ADHD are not necessarily the same. Some is behavioral. Some is not.

Too many kids are medicated who should not be. But the fact is, some kids need it.

27 posted on 04/18/2003 1:26:09 PM PDT by Corin Stormhands (HHD, FRM, RFA)
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To: Lazamataz
Anecdotal evidence is not derived from double blinded experiments. There are five levels of scientific evidence that are generally accepted in the community of research trialists. Level 5 is anecdotal evidence based on a case report. Level 1 evidence is derived from placebo controlled double blinded randomized controlled trials. Please site your reference for double blinded controlled trials.
28 posted on 04/18/2003 1:26:18 PM PDT by US admirer
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To: FreeRadical
It exists.

Unfortunately however, the lack of (ADHD-related) knowledge on the part of many parents, who in turn could educate others as well as ensure that their children were receiving whatever help they needed; and medication is not typically recommended as the first line of treatment, nor is it EVER supposed to be used as the only treatment; and WHY they need it, helps promote the 'stigma' often surrounding the issue.
29 posted on 04/18/2003 1:26:59 PM PDT by Sweet_Sunflower29 (Snapping fingers in a *whatever_shape_it_is* for emphasis.)
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To: Lazamataz
BS. There is no such thing as a double-blind experiment that confirms the existence of ADD/ADHD.

ADD/ADHD is a psychiatric disorder. This means that its existence is confirmed purely by subjective citeria.

30 posted on 04/18/2003 1:27:34 PM PDT by Al B.
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To: Al B.
Actually, to help you in finding the research in question, I think it involved the use of those machines used to measure brain activity. Normal and ADD people were given ritalin and the researchers compared brain wave activities.

Normal people taking ritalin had disruptions, but ADD people taking ritalin had modifications that got their 'brainprints' looking quite similar to normal people's.

Ritalin stimulates one particular area in the brain that is underutilized in ADD people. If there is no need for the ritalin, it does not concentrate there but instead causes a general stimulant effect to the entire brain. This is why normal people get an amphetamine result from taking ritalin, and ADD people do not.

31 posted on 04/18/2003 1:28:03 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Al B.
What double-blind experiments?

Look here for a few papers on dopamine uptake and ADHD.

32 posted on 04/18/2003 1:28:36 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: Al B.
ADD/ADHD is a psychiatric disorder. This means that its existence is confirmed purely by subjective citeria.

You're wrong. You appear to be one of those who opposes the existence of ADD/ADHD on ideological grounds. Why?

33 posted on 04/18/2003 1:30:20 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: Al B.
ADD/ADHD is a psychiatric disorder. This means that its existence is confirmed purely by subjective citeria.

Perhaps, perhaps not. I do know what the doctor showed me. And I do know it helps me, personally.

This is an "ideological" malady, inasmuch as certain people will insist -- loudly, and often with flecks of spittle on the sides of their mouth -- that this which affects me, does not.

Luckily, the medical community will ignore the ideologically extremist on this issue, and continue treating me for a malady that -- at least in my life -- is 100% real.

34 posted on 04/18/2003 1:30:44 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: r9etb
That link appears to have some of the brain images the good doctor showed me.

You are right about the rabid ideological opposition to treatment of this (very real) malady. I guess I feel a little sympathy towards the Prozac crowd, now, since they get the same treatment.

Ah well. The naysayers are in the vast minority, and it is a very good thing, too.

35 posted on 04/18/2003 1:33:20 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: FreeRadical
stress management, identification of "triggers" of the symptoms....

From personal experience, I can tell you that the various forms of Dyslexia can mimick ADD/ADHD as well.

When a child with Dyslexia suffers "disorientation" they often exhibit lack of attentiveness...day dreaming.. pencil tapping, etc.

For more links you can check out my profile page for information on Dyslexia, as well as info on the possible link between Sleep Apnea and ADD behavior as well.

36 posted on 04/18/2003 1:34:45 PM PDT by Johnny Gage (God Bless our Military, God Bless President Bush, GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!)
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To: FreeRadical
How about the link of Ritalin use to high school massacres ? The kid in San Diego who shot a few kids was taking Ritalin and I thought I read an article that linked a couple of other shootings to Ritalin use.
37 posted on 04/18/2003 1:34:53 PM PDT by John Lenin (I was the kid next door's imaginary friend)
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To: Sweet_Sunflower29
and medication is not typically recommended as the first line of treatment

Good point. And I am sure ADD is overdiagnosed among children. Certainly ritalin is overperscribed among children as well.

However, those who deny the existance of ADD sound like they would also deny the existance of clinical depression.

38 posted on 04/18/2003 1:35:31 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: r9etb
You appear to be one of those who opposes the existence of ADD/ADHD on ideological grounds.

Baloney. Although the behaviors associated with ADHD certainly exist, I oppose it on scientific grounds. NIMH has admitted that there is no evidence that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction. Why won't you?

39 posted on 04/18/2003 1:35:43 PM PDT by Al B.
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To: Johnny Gage
From personal experience, I can tell you that the various forms of Dyslexia can mimick ADD/ADHD as well.

Interesting! But I am very sure I do ton evah aixelsyd.

40 posted on 04/18/2003 1:36:41 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Zipporah
All of the kids that I know that are medicated are from 2 parent homes. I think that a lot are from families where both parents work. I think the parents don't want to deal with the problems.

I have a daughter with brain damage, and my son has a tic disorder. It takes a lot of time and energy to deal with them. However, I'm not working, so I have the time (not always the energy).

I'm actually kind of glad my son has the tic disorder because you don't put kids with a tic disorder on Ritalin. It either makes tics worse or brings out tics in some kids.
41 posted on 04/18/2003 1:36:45 PM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: Lazamataz
While I don't doubt that a condition exists (I'm very much absent-minded to the point my wife asks if I have dain bramage), I have a hard time believing it exists at such high levels.

I think that there is a middle-ground that needs to be reached where the schools and drug companies need to be taken out of the equation. I don't doubt some people need medication, I do doubt that every so many kids has ADHD.

I also have a big concern about the difference between boys and girls when it comes to this...you'd think there'd be more similarities.

42 posted on 04/18/2003 1:36:50 PM PDT by IYAS9YAS (Go Fast, Turn Left!)
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To: Al B.
NIMH has admitted that there is no evidence that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.

Citation, please. And while we are at it, define 'brain malfunction' within that context.

43 posted on 04/18/2003 1:38:03 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Noahs Rook
Most boys can only focus on 1 thing. Girls are better at multi-tasking.
44 posted on 04/18/2003 1:38:15 PM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: IYAS9YAS
While I don't doubt that a condition exists (I'm very much absent-minded to the point my wife asks if I have dain bramage), I have a hard time believing it exists at such high levels.

I don't disagree. I think it is overdiagnosed, and I am especially leery about putting lots of children on these drugs.

But to deny it's existance is analogous to someone denying the existence of clinical depression.

45 posted on 04/18/2003 1:39:49 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: US admirer
Level 1 evidence is derived from placebo controlled double blinded randomized controlled trials. Please site your reference for double blinded controlled trials.

Here's a nice Google Search. Some of those links point to real science on the matter.

I'm sure you'll be able to find lots of "Level 1" evidence in the peer-reviewed papers that are included among the links. The double-blind question is whether you'll change your tune after reading a few.

46 posted on 04/18/2003 1:40:13 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: luckystarmom
Most boys can only focus on 1 thing. Girls are better at multi-tasking.

I think you failed to end your post in time. Properly edited, it would read:

Most boys can only focus on 1 thing. Girls

There we go. Much better.

47 posted on 04/18/2003 1:41:12 PM PDT by Lazamataz (c) Entertaining beautiful women since 1972 ! :^)
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To: Lazamataz
Hardly anyone serious says ADD does not exist, however overdiagnosis is rampant. Side effects of long term use include severe sleep disorders, irritability, hallucination, depression and other long term adult problems. As the father of one who was drugged by the ed-est in 1990, I can tell you that no one has yet been able to tell me the physiological cause of this "disorder". His symptoms? Inattention, disobedience, unruliness, and other things I did 30 years earlier whenever I was confronted with ill-perpared or incompetent teachers. Such teachers were rare in the fifties and sixties, unfortunately common in the eighties.
48 posted on 04/18/2003 1:41:44 PM PDT by steve8714
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To: Al B.
Baloney. Although the behaviors associated with ADHD certainly exist, I oppose it on scientific grounds. NIMH has admitted that there is no evidence that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction. Why won't you?

Hmmmmm. Sounds like you suffer from a bit of Baghdad Bobism, too. But there's hope -- just read some of the peer-reviewed papers to which I provided the links.

49 posted on 04/18/2003 1:42:43 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: Johnny Gage
Giftedness can also mimick ADD. My son's second grade teacher (in a private Christian school) thought he might have ADD because he wasn't paying attention in class.

We had him tested at the public school. He had a higher than average attention span, and he is gifted.

He was bored stiff in 2nd grade. He still gets very bored with writing tasks. It's very hard to get him to sit still and finish any written homework.
50 posted on 04/18/2003 1:43:40 PM PDT by luckystarmom
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