Firstly, I would like to thank eTeach for the article ‘The ADHD Can of Worms’, the research in which I found both shocking and enlightening. I would also like to thank eTeach for giving me the opportunity to respond. I am not a clinician, a teacher, an OFSTED Inspector or, in fact, a professional of any kind! I am merely, the grandmother of two adolescents, both of whom suffer the horribly debilitating condition, known as ADHD.
I have no problem with the first half of the blog: indeed, it is fairly accurate, if a little incomplete and out of date. In relation to ‘Diagnosis’ for instance, ADHD type behaviours need to be exhibited in more than one setting i.e. both at home and at school, which is a crucial point, as it discounts the possibility of the child simply not liking or thriving at school. Secondly, there is a new, more definitive, diagnostic tool available, which has become the go to programme, for both the NHS Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service and the ADHD Foundation based in Liverpool. It is called the QB Test. A Full description can be found here.
The second half of the article, however, I take serious issue with:
ADHD Is A Modern Day Crutch?
‘Some see it as a cultural construct and a SENCO’s biggest time-waster. They say it is not real, it is a myth and a fraud.’ J. Dabell
Who are these ‘some’?
Jerome Kegan – an eminent US Psychologist and Professor at Harvard University. It is really telling, that the prodigious number of articles written about him or by him, usually spend the entire first paragraph detailing his credentials. The U.S. press love him for his controversial, headline grabbing views, which can be seen as either informative, quirky, or sensationalist depending on your own point of view.
However, being sensationalist or quirky is no excuse for touting ideas which are insulting, and even damaging, to the potential 5% of the population who suffer with ADHD and their families. I also note, that here in the U.K., only a Clinical Psychiatrist, Neurologist or Paediatrician is legally qualified to diagnose and prescribe for ADHD. Mr. Jerome is none of these things, which leads me to question how he can possibly feel qualified to pronounce on its existence or otherwise. Perhaps I am a little harsh, he is after all a psychologist and it would be a poor world where the lay person is not permitted to question established science.
Julian Elliott – Professor of Education at Durham University. Again, not a psychiatrist, not a neurologist and certainly not a paediatrician. This person does not believe in the existence of dyslexia either!
Matthew Smith – I couldn’t find formal credentials for this person, other than he published a book called ‘The Controversial History of ADHD’. The preface to his book refers to him as an ‘historian with past experience of working with troubled children and youth’. This is a guess, but probably not a psychiatrist, not a neurologist and not a paediatrician.
Dr Richard Saul – Dr Saul is in fact a Behavioural Neurologist. His book ADHD Does Not Exist was published in 2014. If you read the preface to the book you will find that it was dedicated ‘to all those children and adults who have been misdiagnosed with ADHD and had their treatment delayed or denied’. He does not deny the existence of the symptoms of ADHD but feels they may be better attributed to other, often equally serious, conditions, none of which, I hasten to add, should be ignored, or merely dismissed as poor behaviour in the classroom.
However, since Dr Saul’s book was published, research has moved on apace. Most notably, a study carried out by the international Enigma ADHD Working Group, led by Dr. Martine Hoogman, found significant differences in the brains of those suffering with ADHD. The study, published in The Lancet, compared MRI brain scans of 1713 variously aged people diagnosed with ADHD, with those of 1529 people not suffering from ADHD. In an interview published in the magazine, Medical News Today, Dr. Hoogman states:
"The results from our study confirm that people with ADHD have differences in their brain structure and therefore suggest that ADHD is a disorder of the brain. We hope that this will help to reduce stigma that ADHD is 'just a label' for difficult children or caused by poor parenting. This is definitely not the case, and we hope that this work will contribute to a better understanding of the disorder." Dr. Martine Hoogman.
There is also question over the issues concerning the diagnosis of ADHD, which I would like to address in a second part to this article, as the issue is extremely complex and deserves separate attention.
But, I have to say, the parents and families of children suffering with ADHD could not care less how the condition is labelled. What they crave is recognition of a treatable condition and a diagnosis, because without a diagnosis these children never receive the help and educational accommodations they so desperately need, and to which they are, by law, entitled.
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About the author
Christine is the grandparent of two children diagnosed with ADHD who has experienced the long battle to gain a diagnosis.