Evaluating ADHD Myths
Chris Regal | Sept 26, 2012
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Although the name ADHD is a relatively new term, references to behaviors typical of children with ADHD have been around for many years. The first description of a child with ADHD was in:
Dr. Heinrich Hoffman was a physician and wrote books on both medicine and psychiatry. When he could not find suitable books to read to his 3-year-old son, he became interested in writing for children and compiled a book of poems and illustrations entitled, “The Story of Fidgety Phil.” This book is the first description of a young boy with symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Although the exact cause of ADHD is not known, sugar, food coloring and other additives play a major role in children developing symptoms of ADHD.
According to the National Institutes of Health, less than 5% of children’s ADHD symptoms improved when given a diet without sugar or food additives. Many of the children that did show improvement had known food allergies. The Feingold Diet, the most well-known elimination diet, became popular in the 1980s, although since then no major study has been able to substantiate the claim that the consumption of sugar or food additives causes ADHD.
ADHD is diagnosed through:
There is no physical test to determine if an individual has ADHD. The diagnostic process includes behavioral checklists completed by parents, caregivers and teachers, a thorough medical history and comparison of behaviors to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, American Psychiatric Association).
Some people still deny that ADHD existence. One of the reasons people believe it is a made up disorder is:
Many critics of ADHD believe that ADHD is used as an excuse for behaviors and a way for individuals to place the blame for their actions on a disorder rather than on themselves. Some refer to psychiatry as a “quack” field. In 2002, 75 physicians from around the world signed a consensus statement indicating that ADHD was indeed a real disorder and discussing the many aspects of life that are impacted by ADHD.
The number of prescriptions written for stimulant medication to treat ADHD has increased dramatically over the past twenty years. The reason for this is:
Although it is true that the number of prescriptions for stimulant medication has increased, so has our knowledge and understanding of ADHD. Doctors are better able to diagnose ADHD now than they were 20 years ago. Parents, because of their increased knowledge are more apt to take their children to the doctor for behavioral problems.
Although the exact causes of ADHD are unknown, the following are all considered possible causes, except:
Poor parenting is not a cause of ADHD. Parents have the opportunity to help their child with ADHD by learning about the disorder and creating an environment for the child to succeed. Many studies have shown that ADHD is caused by biological factors. The home environment has not been found to be a contributing factor.
When parents seek medical help for their children’s ADHD, they often do it because:
Parents are often looking for help in understanding behaviors and to help their children succeed. Most parents, teachers, physicians and counselors routinely teach children (and adults) with ADHD to take responsibility for their actions and to use ADHD as an explanation for behavior rather than an excuse for poor behaviors.
ADHD, and the treatment for it, including medication, is one of the most researched disorders of all times. Medication has been found to be safe and effective in treating ADHD. Some of the ways medication helps are:
Treatment for ADHD has been shown to decrease the risk of substance abuse and has been documented to help individuals in academic, work, relationships and social settings.
Girls and boys are both diagnosed with ADHD at the same rate.
Boys are normally diagnosed with ADHD more often than girls, although ADHD is not a “male” disorder. Most of the information written about ADHD and most of the studies have involved boys, therefore, it is assumed that girls do not have ADHD. There are some differences in how ADD and ADHD manifest in girls and boys but the many symptoms remain the same.
The number of children and adults diagnosed with ADD/ADHD has increased over the past 20 years. The reasons for this include all the following, except:
Public awareness and understanding are two of the most important reasons for the increase in diagnosis. In addition, more adults have been diagnosed as we have learned that this disorder does not disappear. Many parents were diagnosed after their children received a diagnosis and they could see themselves in the behaviors and struggles of their children.