Skip to comments.Neal Boortz and ADD
Posted on 04/29/2003 8:40:41 AM PDT by Houmatt
The following are short pieces recently written by Neal Boortz regarding Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, appearing in Neal's Nuze:
DONT PAY ATTENTION TO THIS. JUST KEEP DRUGGING YOUR KIDS.
More and more medical and psychological professionals are speaking out against this phony disease of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dr. Bob Jacobs, a psychologist, is on the advisory board of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. He recently told a conference in Australia that ADHD is a behavioral problem, not a medical disorder. He correctly points out that there is no proof that ADHD exists.
Jacobs notes that many children who are diagnosed with ADHD children who it is said cant pay attention are perfectly capable of sitting still with a video game and paying rapt attention for hours on end. He also points out that when parents pay attention and change the way they are treating and handling their children, the ADHD symptoms go away. A real diseas doesnt go away when somebody else does something.
I just love it that this debate is surfacing again. Sure, Ritalin works. Its a drug, of course its going to have an affect on children. It makes them more docile and compliant. Take that word compliant and put it next to government. Would anyone argue that government doesnt just love a compliant citizen? Then why wouldnt a government school teacher love a docile and compliant child? It sure makes their job easier, doesnt it?
In 2001 U.S. drug companies made more than $600 million profit in ADHD drugs like Ritalin. If ADHD goes away so do those profits.
Its time for you parents and teachers to stop looking for the easy way out here. Your easy way out is a potential disaster for your child.
IM STILL HERE
The controversy over my comments on ADD/ADHD continues. Station management continues to feel the effects of an organized campaign to have me either silenced or fired. Hey, I dont blame these people. If I was drugging my child for a non-existent disease I wouldnt want anyone reminding me of my irresponsibility either.
Just to fuel the fire, here are some excerpts from letters and e-mail Ive received in the last few days:
I am a Special Education teacher in Kansas --anti-NEA, extremely conservative: endangered species. Agree with you on ADHD. Problem - liberals insist all students with behavior problems have the right to disrupt the education of others, so meds used to control behaviors. In Kansas, ADHD students receive special education services under the label of Otherwise Health Impaired (OHI). Some of us know that OHI really stands for Otherwise HOME Impaired. Please do not use my name publicly -- retaliation from liberal dominated administration probable
Before you delete this please read on. I am ecstatic on your position on add and ADHD. I have a son that was so diagnosed, they, she who is always right, put him on Ritalin. it is a devastating drug, they are doped up and not themselves. Chris is adopted has a handicap and parents that care. i took on the problem, the problem was not a condition it was a matter of wills. i withdrew him from the medication and worked my ass off making the difference. Neal is right, get off the medication, instill confidence, give a damn about how they behave and stand firm. today my son has a 4.0 average in his junior year of high school and has been accepted to Penn State, will get a partial scholarship and is a GREAT KID. Not bad for someone the system wanted to put into a stupor. Dad's can make a difference, although you may not be the most popular guy around. God Bless
Man, when your right your right! The stories that I could tell you about my ex-wife and hooking my son on this drug since he was two are unbelievable. Parents and teachers are not alone in this. Doctors who are prescribing this and other mind altering drugs are the number one problem. My ex-wife found a doctor in Miami that did "testing" on my son only by giving him some blocks to assemble, and when my son started looking around instead of putting all of the blocks in place that was it, instant A.D.H.D. Oh yeah, this boy was not only A.D.D. He was hyper as well.(here's a clue HE'S TWO YEARS OLD!!) Needless to say this eventually lead to our divorce, but to make matters worse, there are judges out there who believe this crap also, so I did not get custody. He's now 15 and my Ex-wife and I have another court appointment to settle this issue.
AND NOW --- INTRODUCING YOU TO ODD!
This will be the next great fad disease for school age children. Oppositional Defiance Disorder. The ODD child is a child that gets angry or frustrated and defies authority. In other words a child. He argues with adults, he loses his temper, he has a negative attitude, he blames others for his mistakes. Teachers.net has a chatboard discussing this grand new disease. One post by a teacher says: Today was a really bad day. I have been teaching grade seven for four years and today was the first time I was called a "Whore," by a kid who has Oppositional Defiance Disorder.
Stand by folks, this is soon going to become a full-fledged disease and some drug company is going to develop some mind-altering drug that will make these kids compliant and passive. Oh man, are the parents going to love this one. Heres a link on this new fad-disease so you can start getting your excuses ready. http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Valley/9346/odd.html
ADEQUATE DICIPLINE DEFICIENCY
Theres been quite a firestorm of controversy on the show since I started talking about the various experts who are debunking the ADD/ADHD craze. We had Dr. Bob Jackobs, a psychologist, telling a youth conference in Queensland, Australia that there has never been any proof that ADHD exists. Then there was neurologist Dr. Fred Baughman Jr. who, in a 1998 letter to Attorney General Janet Reno called ADHD the single biggest health care fraud in U.S. history. This has all been very unsettling to parents who have decided that drugging is certainly easier than parenting when it comes to controlling the behavior of their children. These parents really know that ADD stands for Adequate Dicipline Deficiency.
But, alas! There are many parents out there who have been unable to find a doctor or a shrink who will write that invaluable Ritalin prescription. Wow! You poor saps have actually had to deal with your children being children!
Well, maybe theres hope. Theres a new disease on the horizon out there. Its called ODD! Oppositional Defiance Disorder? With any luck, your child may have this nifty new disease! As a public service, here is some help diagnosing your very own child to see if they might have ODD! The symptoms are:
Arguing with adults. Losing temper. Angry or resentful of others. Actively defies adults request or rules. Negative attitude Blames others for their own mistakes misbehavior Seems touchy or easily annoyed by others Deliberately annoys others Acts spiteful or vindictive. The psychiatrists are telling us that if your child displays four or more of the above traits you may be a winner! You may have a child with ODD! Now you dont have to feel so left out when the neighborhood moms get together to discuss their childrens afflictions. Looking at that list again, I would suggest that if your child doesnt display at least four of those traits, hes probably in a coma on a respirator.
the really good news! The Psychiatric Alliance of the Blue Ridge is studying an investigational medication that may help children with ODD! So, in the very near future you may not only be able to discuss your childs hideous new disease, you may actually be able to DRUG him!
If a child is engaging in bad behavior, a parent should show responsibility and add a little discipline into their lives. Not a little pill.
And I know I am going to be flamed like crazy for believing this, so have at me.
That's not a disease, that's the list of requirements to be a radio talk show host. :-).
This article doesn't state it, but on the radio Boortz said that significant funding for the group attacking him for questioning ADD comes from the drug companies.
Is ADHD over and misdiagnosed? Yes. Are the ignorant liberals whom dominate education using the diagnosis and the associated drugs as a crutch? Yes. Are kids being hurt because of this? Yes!
Is ADHD nonexistent? I encourage anyone who thinks ADHD is nonexistent to state this belief in the company of a physician familiar with the disorder. Everyone needs an occasional dose of humility.
Having managed an interdisciplinary program for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD for two and a half years I can offer these two pieces of advice that would clear much of the hoopla up if followed: Never, never let anyone who is not a board certified physician diagnose your child with ADHD or even suggest that your child MAY have ADHD, and ask the physician to pursue any alternatives to pharmacotherapy that may be available BEFORE putting your kid on Ritalin or any other stimulant medication.
But for your information, pal, I knew ADD was a sham from back when Michael Fay vandalized those cars in Singapore. The very first thing to come from the mouths of his parents?
Michael has ADD.
I can assure you, there is no ADD, ADHD or ODD that a good old fashioned spanking cannot fix.
Bet on it.
For example, before the change in the definition ADHD required all of these:
In short, for a child to be diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder all of these criteria needed to be met. However, since the definition was changed only a few of these symptoms need to be had in order for a diagnosis of ADHD to be made, and selective seritonin re-uptake inhibitors to be perscribed. Some conspiricy theorists believe that the clinical definition was changed to weaken the criteria to increase the market for SSRI drugs. I don't necessarily believe this, but some people do.
Now, I have to ask which child doesn't show a few of these behaviors at some time in their development? Every child does. However, when all of these behaviors are present and they do not go away, then perhaps that child would benefit.
Thirty years ago was about the time I entered high school. I remember my parents having a meeting with the principal. Let me say that I was somewhat of a hard-headed child. :) I found out soon after that the school was asking my parents to take me to the doctor to see if I had hyperactivity disorder. They did so, but fortunately for me my parents didn't take the advice of the doctor. They didn't think there was anything really wrong with me other than I was bored with public school and I did not like the bullies and the like. I found out years later that the school thought that I belonged on ritalin or whatever. I am glad that my parents were looking out for me but what about parents that listen to the doctor and the school. I grew up to join the service, get a job, get married, etc.
My wife works in a school, and she told me that the children trade SSRI's like candy. This shocked me because, frankly, these drugs are much more powerful and refined than a can of beer or a marijuana cigarette. They are habit forming and the body develops physical dependance on them such that going cold turkey can cause intense mood swings.
I am not a doctor and I don't pretend to know everything, but my opinion is that the school system have been changed into mental health clinics.
A Liberal Hoax Turns Out to Be True
By Michael Fumento
The New Republic, February 2, 2003
Many conservative writers, myself included, have criticized the growing tendency to pathologize every undesirable behavior – especially where children are concerned. But, when it comes to ADHD, this skepticism is misplaced. As even a cursory examination of the existing literature or, for that matter, simply talking to the parents and teachers of children with ADHD reveals, the condition is real, and it is treatable. And, if you don't believe me, you can ask conservatives who've come face to face with it themselves.
Myth: ADHD isn't a real disorder.
The Armstrong and Fukuyama observations are as correct as they are worthless. "Half of all medical disorders are diagnosed without benefit of a lab procedure," notes Dr. Russell Barkley, professor of psychology at the College of Health Professionals at the Medical University of South Carolina. "Where are the lab tests for headaches and multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's?" he asks. "Such a standard would virtually eliminate all mental disorders."
Often the best diagnostic test for an ailment is how it responds to treatment. And, by that standard, it doesn't get much more real than ADHD. The beneficial effects of administering stimulants to treat the disorder were first reported in 1937. And today medication for the disorder is reported to be 75 to 90 percent successful.
"In our trials it was close to ninety percent," says Dr. Judith Rapoport, director of the National Institute of Mental Health's Child Psychiatry Branch, who has published about 100 papers on ADHD. "This means there was a significant difference in the children's ability to function in the classroom or at home."
Myth: ADHD is part of a feminist conspiracy to make little boys more like little girls.
Many conservatives observe that boys receive ADHD diagnoses in much higher numbers than girls and find in this evidence of a feminist conspiracy. (This, despite the fact that genetic diseases are often heavily weighted more toward one gender or the other.) Sowell refers to "a growing tendency to treat boyhood as a pathological condition that requires a new three R's – repression, re-education and Ritalin."
Fukuyama claims Prozac is being used to give women "more of the alpha-male feeling," while Ritalin is making boys act more like girls. "Together, the two sexes are gently nudged toward that androgynous median personality ... that is the current politically correct outcome in American society."
"Originally I was going to have a chapter on it," Sommers tells me. "It seemed to fit the thesis." What stopped her was both her survey of the medical literature and her own empirical findings. Of one child she personally came to know she says, "He was utterly miserable, as was everybody around him. The drugs saved his life."
Myth: ADHD is part of the public school system's efforts to warehouse kids rather than to discipline and teach them .
"No doubt life is easier for teachers when everyone sits around quietly," writes Sowell. Use of ADHD drugs is "in the school's interest to deal with behavioral and discipline problems [because] it's so easy to use Ritalin to make kids compliant: to get them to sit down, shut up, and do what they're told," declares Schlafly. The word "zombies" to describe children under the effects of Ritalin is tossed around more than in a B-grade voodoo movie.
In any case, Ritalin, when taken as prescribed, hardly stupefies children. To the extent the medicine works, it simply turns ADHD children into normal children. "ADHD is like having thirty televisions on at one time, and the medicine turns off twenty-nine so you can concentrate on the one," Houston describes. "This zombie stuff drives me nuts! My kids are both as lively and as fun as can be."
Myth: Parents who give their kids anti-ADHD drugs are merely doping up problem children.
Limbaugh calls ADHD "the perfect way to explain the inattention, incompetence, and inability of adults to control their kids." Addressing parents directly, he lectures, "It helped you mask your own failings by doping up your children to calm them down."
Barkley and Rapoport say research backs her up. Randomized, controlled studies in both the United States and Sweden have tried combining medication with behavioral interventions and then dropped either one or the other. For those trying to go on without medicine, "the behavioral interventions maintained nothing," Barkley says. Rapoport concurs: "Unfortunately, behavior modification doesn't seem to help with ADHD." (Both doctors are quick to add that ADHD is often accompanied by other disorders that are treatable through behavior modification in tandem with medicine.)
Myth: Ritalin is "Kiddie Cocaine."
One of the paradoxes of conservative attacks on Ritalin is that the drug is alternately accused of turning children into brain-dead zombies and of making them Mach-speed cocaine junkies. Indeed, Ritalin is widely disparaged as "kiddie cocaine." Writers who have sought to lump the two drugs together include Schlafly, talk-show host and columnist Armstrong Williams, and others whom I hesitate to name because of my long-standing personal relationships with them.
Mary Eberstadt wrote the "authoritative" Ritalin-cocaine piece for the April 1999 issue of Policy Review, then owned by the Heritage Foundation. The article, "Why Ritalin Rules," employs the word "cocaine" no fewer than twelve times. Eberstadt quotes from a 1995 Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) background paper declaring methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin, "a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant [that] shares many of the pharmacological effects of amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine." Further, it "produces behavioral, psychological, subjective, and reinforcing effects similar to those of d-amphetamine including increases in rating of euphoria, drug liking and activity, and decreases in sedation." Add to this the fact that the Controlled Substances Act lists it as a Schedule II drug, imposing on it the same tight prescription controls as morphine, and Ritalin starts to sound spooky indeed.
Further, he says, "There's no evidence anywhere in literature of [Ritalin's] addictiveness when taken as prescribed." As to the Schedule II listing, again this is because of the potential for it to fall into the hands of abusers, not because of its effects on persons for whom it is prescribed. Ritalin and the other anti-ADHD drugs, says Barkley, "are the safest drugs in all of psychiatry." (And they may be getting even safer: A new medicine just released called Strattera represents the first true non-stimulant ADHD treatment.) Indeed, a study just released in the journal Pediatrics found that children who take Ritalin or other stimulants to control ADHD cut their risk of future substance abuse by 50 percent compared with untreated ADHD children. The lead author speculated that "by treating ADHD you're reducing the demoralization that accompanies this disorder, and you're improving the academic functioning and well-being of adolescents and young adults during the critical times when substance abuse starts."
Myth: Ritalin is overprescribed across the country.
Some call it "the Ritalin craze." In The Weekly Standard, Melana Zyla Vickers informs us that "Ritalin use has exploded," while Eberstadt writes that "Ritalin use more than doubled in the first half of the decade alone, [and] the number of schoolchildren taking the drug may now, by some estimates, be approaching the 4 million mark."
A report in the January 2003 issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine did find a large increase in the use of ADHD medicines from 1987 to 1996, an increase that doesn't appear to be slowing. Yet nobody thinks it's a problem that routine screening for high blood pressure has produced a big increase in the use of hypertension medicine. "Today, children suffering from ADHD are simply less likely to slip through the cracks," says Dr. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist, AEI fellow, and author of PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine.
There are tremendous disparities in the percentage of children taking ADHD drugs when comparing small geographical areas. Psychologist Gretchen LeFever, for example, has compared the number of prescriptions in mostly white Virginia Beach, Virginia, with other, more heavily African American areas in the southeastern part of the state. Conservatives have latched onto her higher numbers – 20 percent of white fifth-grade boys in Virginia Beach are being treated for ADHD – as evidence that something is horribly wrong. But others, such as Barkley, worry about the lower numbers. According to LeFever's study, black children are only half as likely to get medication as white children. "Black people don't get the care of white people; children of well-off parents get far better care than those of poorer parents," says Barkley.
Myth: States should pass laws that restrict schools from recommending Ritalin.
Conservative writers have expressed delight that several states, led by Connecticut, have passed or are considering laws ostensibly protecting students from schools that allegedly pass out Ritalin like candy. Representative Lenny Winkler, lead sponsor of the Connecticut measure, told Reuters Health, "If the diagnosis is made, and it's an appropriate diagnosis that Ritalin be used, that's fine. But I have also heard of many families approached by the school system [who are told] that their child cannot attend school if they're not put on Ritalin."
But of course many, if not most, schools have perhaps one nurse on regular "staff." That nurse will have limited contact with children in the classroom situations where ADHD is likely to be most evident. And, given the wording of the statute, a teacher who believed a student was suffering from ADHD would arguably be prohibited from referring that student to the nurse. Such ambiguity is sure to have a chilling effect on any form of intervention or recommendation by school personnel.
Moreover, 20-year special-education veteran Sandra Rief said in an interview with the National Education Association that "recommending medical intervention for a student's behavior could lead to personal liability issues." Teachers, in other words, could be forced to choose between what they think is best for the health of their students and the possible risk of losing not only their jobs but their personal assets as well.
"Certainly it's not within the purview of a school to say kids can't attend if they don't take drugs," says Houston. "On the other hand, certainly teachers should be able to advise parents as to problems and potential solutions. ... [T]hey may see things parents don't. My own son is an angel at home but was a demon at school."
If the real worry is "take the medicine or take a hike" ultimatums, legislation can be narrowly tailored to prevent them; broad-based gag orders, such as Connecticut's, are a solution that's worse than the problem.
The Conservative Case for ADHD Drugs
There are kernels of truth to every conservative suspicion about ADHD. Who among us has not had lapses of attention? And isn't hyperactivity a normal condition of childhood when compared with deskbound adults? Certainly there are lazy teachers, warehousing schools, androgyny-pushing feminists, and far too many parents unwilling or unable to expend the time and effort to raise their children properly, even by their own standards.
Where conservatives go wrong is in making ADHD a scapegoat for frustration over what we perceive as a breakdown in the order of society and family. In a column in The Boston Herald, Boston University Chancellor John Silber rails that Ritalin is "a classic example of a cheap fix: low-cost, simple and purely superficial."
In fact, it can be argued that the use of those pills, far from being liable for or symptomatic of the Decline of the West, reflects and reinforces conservative values. For one thing, they increase personal responsibility by removing an excuse that children (and their parents) can fall back on to explain misbehavior and poor performance.
"Too many psychologists and psychiatrists focus on allowing patients to justify to themselves their troubling behavior," says Satel. "But something like Ritalin actually encourages greater autonomy because you're treating a compulsion to behave in a certain way. Also, by treating ADHD, you remove an opportunity to explain away bad behavior."
Moreover, unlike liberals, who tend to downplay differences between the sexes, conservatives are inclined to believe that there are substantial physiological differences – differences such as boys' greater tendency to suffer ADHD. "Conservatives celebrate the physiological differences between boys and girls and eschew the radical-feminist notion that gender differences are created by societal pressures," says Houston regarding the fuss over the boy-girl disparity among ADHD diagnoses. "ADHD is no exception."
But, however compatible conservatism may be with taking ADHD seriously, the truth is that most conservatives remain skeptics. "I'm sure I would have been one of those smug conservatives saying it's a made-up disease," admits Charen, "if I hadn't found out the hard way." Here's hoping other conservatives find an easier route to accepting the truth.
Read Michael Fumento's additional work on ADHD.
Michael Fumento is the author of numerous books. His next book, BioEvolution: How Biotechnology Is Changing Our World, will be published in the spring by Encounter Books.