May 10th 2010
The question, “What is the ADD and ADHD diagnosis”, should really be worded as, “What is the cause of ADD and ADHD?” Without understanding the cause, the diagnosis is only arbitrary speculation.
The aim of this article is to encourage parents with ADHD children and adults with adult ADHD to have the confidence to find the best solution and not be steamrolled into ADD or ADHD medication.
ADHD diagnostic criteria are listed and defined in the DSM-IV page. DSM-IV stands for the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition.”
The accepted diagnostic criteria for ADHD are subjective and no biological or objective criteria exist. If the child only shows five of the criteria in the first criteria list, then there is no ADHD, but on showing six criteria, the magic number has been attained and the child can be diagnosed as ADHD. This is arbitrary, as the difference between five or six criteria is practically irrelevant.
In 1998, The National Institute of Health held a Conference on ADD/ADHD. At the end of this conference they issued this statement:
“We do not have an independent, valid test for ADD/ADHD and there are no data to indicate that ADD/ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.”
That was in 1998. In 2008 the situation is unchanged. No objectively verifiable diagnosis for ADHD exists, and there is still no proof whatsoever that ADHD is caused by a brain malfunction. What is presented as proof of a brain malfunction is a philosophical malfunction. Nobody can state that there is a “chemical imbalance in the brain” if there is no standard “chemical balance.”
There so many different opinions among health professionals on the subject of ADD and ADHD. The confusion lies in the basic paradigms or basic assumptions, from which the different professional groups approach the condition. Since the ADHD and ADD diagnosis is made only through subjective perceptions of behaviour with no physiological criteria, or objective physiological tests, two children, equally affected, can have different diagnoses.
The physician diagnosing ADD and ADHD bases the diagnosis on the subjective perception of the parents and teachers. In two different communities; one can perceive the child as a problem, while in another it is merely a lively and active child.
In addition, one physician might have received information mainly from the pharmaceutical industry and does not think further than medication as the obvious answer. Another will try and find the cause in an allergy, the thyroid gland, low blood sugar, diabetes, a yeast infection, food dye, diet and many other factors. A psychologist will treat the child with some form of coaching like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Another psychologist might try Neural Linguistic Programming.
ADD and ADHD are diagnosed by behavior patterns. That behavior can be caused by many things. Understanding the cause of the particular child's behavior is the first step towards a cure.
There are many causes of ADD and ADHD, and children react differently to the various factors. For example, a child may suffer from apnea, a sleeping disorder in which breathing is interrupted. Research has shown that apnea leads to ADHD like symptoms. That child may be diagnosed as having ADHD, and the parents complain that the child has difficulty sleeping (a common ADHD problem). That child then has a stimulant medication in the day to cope with school, and an opposite medication at night to fall asleep. The healthiest path for this child is to deal with the sleeping problem, and see if the ADHD disappears.
There are many paths to treating ADD and ADHD; or rather to handling ADD and ADHD. Medication for ADD and ADHD should be a last option when no other option has been found. Who, after all, wants to see their child hooked on a drug classed with cocaine? That is where the ADHD drugs are classed.
This means that an ADD and ADHD diagnosis has to be carefully thought through. As there are many factors causing the ADD and ADHD behaviour patterns, we need to remember that research in this subject is generalised by its very nature, however each case of ADHD or ADD is a specific person and needs to be treated as such.
The advice to consult with one's health professional is good advice. What is advised here is to choose that health professional wisely.
Dr. Mary Ann Block M.D. author of “No More ADHD” wrote:
“ADHD is not like diabetes and Ritalin is not like insulin. Diabetes is a real medical condition that can be objectively diagnosed. ADHD is an invented label with no objective, valid means of identification. Insulin is a natural hormone produced by the body and it is essential for life. Ritalin is a chemically derived amphetamine-like drug that is not necessary for life. Diabetes is an insulin deficiency. Attention and behavioural problems are not a Ritalin deficiency”
The basic problem in pharmaceutically funded ADD and ADHD research is the difficulty some physicians have to understand ADHD differently from the way they have been told or taught by the pharmaceutical company representatives. They analyse the information from assumptions that are already in their minds. They then only see what they have been prepared to see. They trust that the logical analysis of the statistical data is reflecting reality.
Statistics is the only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions.
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”