Parenting

I Dont Believe in ADHD


O.K. I've heard it a hundred times from my prison guard friends, "I don't believe that there is such a thing as ADD. It's only something made up from the drug companies to drug our children." They know because they read an article in a magazine, or saw a show on TV once. I guess they also believe in aliens in government, and that Elvis still lives somewhere in Oklahoma.

Look, there are lots of physical differences between the actual brains of people with ADD and those who don't have it, and there are also functional differences in the way that their brains work. And there are lots of scientists and physicians who are investing lots of time and money into identifying and writing about those differences. Just because their research is too boring to make the Morning Show on TV doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, or isn't true.

The Functional Differences include studies with EEGs, Q-EEGs, CPTs, psychological testing, and "functional" MRIs (fMRI). They showed differences in activation levels of various areas of the brain, differences in brainwave patterns, and differences in glucose metabolism (as measure of brain work load) between ADHD subjects and non-ADHD subjects. They also showed the ADD ADHD groups to have poorer performance on timed tasks, slower reaction time, slower processing times, lower problem solving abilities, less fine motor control, less gross motor control, differences in evoked potentials, and problems with inhibition, as compared to the controls.

The Structural Differences include studies with MRIs, PET scans, and SPECT scans. They show subtle structural differences in the prefrontal cortex (smaller right anterior frontal cortex, and less white matter in the right frontal lobes which cause problems with sustained or focused attention), caudate nucleus (asymmetries which cause problems with self-control), and globus pallidus. They also show that the right hemisphere of the ADHD brain is, on average, 5% smaller than the control groups. They also show differences in blood flow in certain parts of the brain, as well as specific chemical abnormalities in ADHD subjects.

The studies on Essential Fatty Acid levels in ADHD subjects vs. non-ADHD subjects are interesting. The ADHD groups had significantly lower concentrations of key essential fatty acids than did the control groups, and about 40% of the ADHD group showed signs of EFA deficiency (increased thirst, frequent urination, dry skin, and dry hair). Low levels of Omega 6 EFAs contributed to higher incidents of illness (colds, flu, etc.), and deficits in Omega 3 EFAs contributed to problems with learning, behavior, sleep, and temper. These studies support the case for EFA supplementation as a part of the overall treatment approach to ADHD.

Genetic Studies on Attention Deficit Disorder show gene alterations that may contribute to ADHD in some children. They are especially looking at the DRD4 dopamine receptor gene. Familial Genetic Studies show that Attention Deficit Disorder runs in families. For example, a child with an older sibling with ADHD is 300% to 500% more likely to himself have Attention Deficit Disorder than is a child without ADHD siblings. Twin studies and Adoption studies are also included.

Is your head spinning yet? I hope so.

ADHD is a real disorder with a neurological basis. It impacts about 5% of the population in America, so it is a very real problem for a lot of people. Stop trying to make it into a myth or an excuse. It is a condition that can be treated, improved, helped, and overcome with the proper interventions. To learn more about ADHD visit the ADHD Information Library.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.


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