August 13th, 2010
02:25 PM ET

Your thoughts on ADHD

Many CNN.com readers had strong views on the subject of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in response to my article. We received nearly 1,100 comments.

Our most "liked" comment (as chosen by readers) comes from JoelSP who wonders whether ADHD is a condition created for pharmaceuticals to treat:

At the risk of invoking the wrath of parents nationwide...When I was a kid in the 70's there was no such thing as ADHD and ADD. Or if there was, it got straightened out with a good smack on the butt. It blows my mind that after thousands of years of existence, all of a sudden humanity has evolved these new conditions in the past twenty years that, lo and behold, the pharmaceutical companies have a solution for. Which came first...the drug or the disease?

It is true that these developmental disorders were not as widely recognized some 30 or 40 years ago. Psychologists say that there is now much greater awareness of what attention deficit disorders are, which is why we see more of them among children. Cheryl Rode, director of clinical operations at the San Diego Center for Children, says there's probably not more ADHD now among children than ever before - it's just that there's a lot more education about it.

There's also evidence of a biological basis for ADHD that seems to throw a wrench in the argument that the pharmaceutical industry invented it. In youth with ADHD, brain maturation is delayed three years in some brain regions, on average, compared with youth without the disorder, according to a 2007 study from the National Institutes of Health. The condition may also be genetic. But there is no test, such as a blood test, to diagnose ADHD - only evaluation and assessment tools such as questionnaires, points out Garry Earles, a clinical social worker in Turner Falls, Massachusetts.

But the flip side of widespread awareness is the prevalence of misdiagnosis, which is what the experts in my story are concerned about. Just because ADHD is a real, biologically based phenomenon does not mean that every child who can't listen in class has it. There are plenty of reasons why children have problems in school. Teachers, parents, and mental health professionals alike should take care to explore all of those possibilities before assuming that a drug designed for ADHD is the best solution, even if medication seems like a quick fix, says pediatrician Dr. Claudia Gold.

Another problem, Earles writes in a letter to CNN.com, is that teachers typically do not have enough training in basic child and adolescent mental health conditions.

While they are dedicated, concerned and caring people, they have, in essence, been set up to educate these kids without any training in the issues that confront their students. In a nutshell, school systems throughout the country have become mental health clinic annexes.

Oksunny, who identifies herself as a 32-year-old woman with ADD, says culture is also to blame. "Society is less patience and tolerant of 'wild' children. We want them to grow up too fast and start thinking about getting into college before they are out of diapers. Too much pressure–our children are suffering," she writes.

A Consumer Reports Health survey found that switching schools and using drug therapy were the most effective treatments for children with the condition.

soundoff (982 Responses)
  1. Augsbee

    I think ADHD has always existed and it went unnoticed and people's lives did suffer from it. I'm related to ADHD and the actions of such persons is very different from those with no ADHD, there is a pattern they all show. It's hard to tell ADHD people to try to control it without medication because most of the time they are unaware of what is happening to them, unaware of their behavior.

    August 13, 2010 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chopkins

      ADHD is very prominent and cannot be controlled unless medicated sadly. I myself suffer as well as my child. it has affected my life greatly and I CHOSE to medicate my son to give him a fair chance at an education. Though I am highly intelligent, my education lacked in a number of ways because of poor concentration.

      August 13, 2010 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn Shoen

      I used to think that ADHD was simply an excuse for bad behavior. But then, I had a son who had ADHD. It is a real condition and we have found that medication does help focus him in school.. For years it went undiagnosed, and people self-medicated with alcohol or drugs. The alternatives– behavior modification and prescription medication–seem like a better way to raise a healthy, happy child.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      You're related to ADHD? So, this is your family's fault?

      August 13, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
    • Formerteacher

      That is incorrect. These children know what's happening and can control themselves, to a point, more than people think. I taught special education for 3 years. Had a student who routinely didn't take their meds. At the beginning of the year they would come in bouncing off the walls. "Oops, didn't take my meds." I told them that they are in the 8th grade and can behave themselves better than that. By the end of the year you could still tell when the meds were forgotten, but the child was better behaved. Because this child had been taught it's ok to act like this off meds, they believed it and lived up to those expectations. We're not pushing our kids hard enough to behave, yet pushing them too hard to be better academically.

      I also don't believe the problem is as wide spread as it's made out to be. It was suggested that I be put on medication at the age of 10. Thank God my parents refused and said "It might be suggested that some teachers use this for classroom management." Enough said.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • ADHD Sufferer

      What? I'm sorry. I wasn't listening. I was bouncing a ball on the wall.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • mirrorme

      Hey there formerteacher,

      One of my kids has adhd and I see so much of myself in this child. Neither of us are the 'bouncing off the walls' type, but still I can relate to what happens in school for these kids. You probably aren't going to agree with this, but I feel it must be said. At first (if not always) the child with ADHD wants to please the teacher/adult every bit as much as any other child, so they work really hard at staying on task, watching for careless errors etc. and they end up producing just acceptable results. The teacher or parent responds by rewarding the results and not the huge effort. In other words, average results = average praise. Because kids with adhd have an immature prefrontal cortex they are working TWICE as hard as a kid without adhd for half the result. Since a child with adhd has a faulty internal reward system, there is already low internal reward/motivation to continue repeating the huge effort. Then, if the external reward is also small, well, why should we be surprised when I child willingly gives up??? Add in high intelligence and the stakes get even larger! The smarter the kid, the more self control they expect. I have dealt with teachers who seem to believe that intellectual ability trumps executive control, that kids can use their intelligence to overcome adhd on their own. Sorry, not so.

      August 13, 2010 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
    • GJB

      Hi Augsbee - I agree – medication isn't always the answer. It may be right for some but others may be able to explore other options first. If only doctors could try thinking outside of the box once in a while. There's a very interesting study that just came out in the July/August issue of the Journal of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine about coherence training in kids with ADHD. The researchers used an intervention called HeartMath (tools for refocusing and regulating the emotions) and a heart coherence feedback technology. In the discussion section of the paper it says that the results were significantly beyond what was expected - they saw improved cognitive function and improved self regulation. The study is very promising and I hope more will consider while meds do work for some, there are also other approaches for this disorder that are worth looking into.

      August 13, 2010 at 20:23 | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer Brogee

      Thank you for the information on coherence training, I am going to research that for my son. He has reacted well to a change in diet, and accommodations made by his teachers in the classroom (mainly just realizing his wiggling & talking isn't necessarily under his control, and putting him in the front), but he really struggles with complex school tasks such as reading comprehension, and we are considering medication. I think ADHD has become so prominent because of environmental factors such as pollution, additives in our food and too much time inside. It's always existed, but the environment is exacerbating it. At least that's my own opinion.

      August 13, 2010 at 21:35 | Report abuse |
    • alex

      Why is everyone so afraid of medication? In this article and the previous one that spawned it there are tons of comments about pharma companies creating the problem to sell drugs. Terms like "sadly they must be medicated" or "sedating children with meds" are thrown around with such vitriolic contempt I question if the people saying them have any real experience w/ADHD. Medication has been a godsend in my life and in the lives of others who have posted comments. In severe cases of ADHD it does not matter how many hours a day you workout, how well controlled your diet is, how many environmental changes you make, or how many coping skills you develop. When it is all said and done the disorder is still present. If you are still ready to jump out of your own skin but cannot sit still long enough to read the manual on how to get back into it.....you might need some medication. It took me over 20 years to realize this. Once I was able to stop listening to all the people who were telling me to "just calm down" or "take a minute to relax" or "there is no such thing as ADHD" I got some real help in the form of Adder-all. Maybe I should have just punched you all in the pie-hole, then you could see how real the lack of impulse control is. Anyway, I know that my children all have ADHD in varying levels of severity and I will not hesitate to put them on medication. But only if it is needed and only after I have given them all the other skills they will need to succeed.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
    • soulsabr

      First, to chopkins, you are an idiot. I rarely take such a strong stance against a person but what you said is so completely ignorant I cannot think of anything else to explain your comment. I have ADHD, I was never medicated, and I am now an engineer and going for my doctorate. I did, however, get a chance to witness what medication does to people, though. My brother was put on some anti ADD drug and he is now no longer active or interested in anything; he is now lethargic and paranoid thanks to these miracle drugs. My parents, to this day, regret ever putting him on the drugs and wish they had never heard of them. Want to know how to control an kid with ADHD? Just like any other kid you just need to be consistent with praise when the child does good and consistent with consequences when the child does bad. Most of all, make sure your child understands that you expect them to do well and that it makes you proud when they do. If you believe they can do it then they will believe it too and that will go worlds farther than any drug can ever take them.

      August 16, 2010 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
  2. Spender H.

    I think ADHD is a very bad OMG I LOVE THIS SONG! I wonder who sings it? I bet I can find the lyrics online. What was I saying?

    August 13, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gina

      That's rude – this is a problem that many people have to face on a daily basic. It causes enough pain for the people that have to deal with it and try to live their lives then to have people like you that joke and make funny of them.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
    • Common Misconception

      I have ADD, and that's really funny. Although it generally isn't a quick subject change, but a complete blank on what I was saying in the middle of a sentence due to a minor distraction.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
    • revolruf

      I also have ADD and have since I was a child. OK, that was a bit funny. I laughed. Humor can help almost anything.

      Life is tough and even tougher since I get distracted so much. My mind won't stop. It jumps around so much I can't focus on anything sometimes. Trying to relax just pisses me off because my mind doesn't want to. I am starting a workout plan and yoga. Both are highly rated in helping control ADD. We'll see...

      August 13, 2010 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • ADD Boy.

      Gina, I'm a grown man with ADD, and that was funny. It happens to us all the time. I did not start taking meds untill I was 25 and I sure wish I had them earlier in school. If someones feelings got hurt from Spender H.'s joke, they seriously need to get over it, they'll be fine.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
    • Mother and Scholar

      Spencer, that WAS funny! that is how some days are for me. Hilarious, and yes we can laugh at things, it is part of the joy of life.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I actually thought that was funny and I have been dealing with it all of my life. In grade school I got hit by a softball in outfield because I was watching a butterfly. In every school photo I am looking off to the side because it just took too long and something caught my attention. It seemed I could always stay in my seat though. But to say I was a daydreamer is a huge understatement. The voice in my head and my thoughts actually speak very fast. If my kids are the same way it would be a last resort but I would resort to medication.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
    • Juju

      Oh Gina, relax. As a person with ADD who has been repeatedly re-diagnosed with it every few years since I failed 3rd grade, that comment was hilarious. Clearly, the poster has insight into how my mind works.

      Just today, as I was at work, a co-worker came into my room (I am a teacher) and gasped, "it looks like a tornado hit this place!" I assured her that I was working on it–just doing a little bit of everything every couple minutes. And slowly but surely, as I worked on whatever caught my attention, the room came together.

      In real life, many people do not have the option to work this way. During the school year I use medication to help me focus on my teaching, believe it or not. School is a very linearly structured environment, and I have trouble working that way without a little help.

      My favorite joke about ADD:

      Q: How many ADD kids does it take to screw in a light bulb?
      A: Hey, wanna go ride bikes?

      August 13, 2010 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
    • alex

      Whats your point in this post? If your offering an example of ADHD, thanks but no thanks. If your mocking the disorder, please go find a better use of your time.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • karen

      Funny Spencer, but so true....have you seen my car keys? They were here a minute ago......

      August 16, 2010 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      Go on youtube and look up a poet named Rafael Casal. He wrote an excellent thought-provoking poem about the TRUTH of add/adhd through the eyes of his nephew. And yes, the drug companies DO make up names to conditions or NON conditions so they can sell a drug for it. The symptoms can be real yes, but does it require a pill?

      August 16, 2010 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
    • Futbol Czarina

      ROFL That's our family mantra. DH was called "hyper" as a kid and I couldn't sit still. Both good students and well behaved, but just couldn't stop moving. We now have a large family of our own and most of our children are also AHDH. When they were toddlers the children's behavior was hyper, and my parenting was questioned. My "hyper" (ADHD) kids are elite athletes, good students, and they just can't sit still!
      Certain things are genetic and it's fortunate when parents understand what a child is experiencing. Some of our kiddos take medicine during school year, and others opt to enjoy the freedom of the crazy energy that they were blessed to be born with!
      Call it whatever you want, "hyper", ADHD, bad parenting, or whatever...I wouldn't change it for being a subdued couch potato for all the quiet moments in the world.
      Keep a sense of humor about the diagnosis. It's hardly serious or life-altering. I can be controlled with meds, homeopathic options, or eventually even behavior modification.
      And on that note, time to end the torture of focusing on one topic for too long.

      August 16, 2010 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
  3. Jake R.

    it's just difficult for me to believe that ADHD is such a monumental problem. Children mature at different rates, though I realize that a three-year lag in brain maturation (as cited above) is a big discrepancy. I am highly skeptical of pumping children full of chemicals to make their behavior more responsive to being guided or controlled by other "authorities."
    I wonder if the solution to all of the problems facing our children isn't much simpler than chemical management. Perhaps a healthier diet, more outdoor activity and a larger allowance for kids being kids could turn things around. It used to work – since time immemorial.

    August 13, 2010 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chopkins

      it doesnt just affect children. it IS a monumental problem and unless you have experienced first hand than you dont know what your talking about
      I dont want to pump my child full of medication but without he could end up like my brothers, drugs, deliquency and prison.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:05 | Report abuse |
    • Jake R.

      I understand that ADHD doesn't just affect children, but most of the people diagnosed are children, and there is a tendency for them to grow out of it as they mature. I guess I just don't like where society is headed. Rather than dedicate ourselves to improving our concentration, continually educating ourselves, and expanding our attention span, we're more likely to pick a scapegoat and "medicate" it away. Just because I don't have ADHD doesn't mean that it's incredibly easy for me to focus on difficult scholastic tasks, or that I have an advantage. But my determination to continue my education despite normal, human difficulties is not lauded. But, ADHD medication that gets kids earning "straight A's" is held as a miracle; a quick fix to replace the hard work and dedication it takes to grow your mental capacity on your own.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • Became a Believer

      I was in the camp of those who did not believe ADHD was a disease and use to make jokes about it. However, my son has the disease and medication has made an incredible difference. He has a 145 IQ, 20 points higher than the first time he took the test. He used to get B's and C's and he now gets straight A's. He NEVER before or afterwards ever had disciplinary problems and did not act out in class. Rather, he simply was not able to focus. It is a biological disease and those who say ugly things about these children may as well be calling an african american the N-word because it is highly offensive and ignorant.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • Jules

      I totally agree with you. There was a good article on the PBS website about how ADH is diagnosed a lot more in boys. The author of the article, who has a PHD in Child Development, stated he thought that ADH was way over-diagnosed and was more to do with the fact that many of the teachers are young females who can't relate to or control wild boys. Throw in the fact that schools give a ridiculously short amount of recess and outdoor play and of course you're going to end up with kids who can't concentrate. Anyone who has a child whose teacher is trying to say they have ADH ought to do some research first. I think it is disgusting the way so many kids are diagnosed with it now and I personally don't think the diagnosis is accurate in a large percentage of cases. As you said, Jake, kids need better nutrition and more outdoor exercise. They also need to stop "over-educating" kids i.e. the subject matter schools are giving young elementary school kids now is at the level we covered when we were 11 years' old (Middle School) back in the 1970's yet I still managed to get my degree and have a good career.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
    • Jake R.

      Believer – Please don't misunderstand my comments. I have said nothing even remotely close to racist name-calling. Please take that attitude somewhere else. A healthy skepticism is not an attack, and voicing my opinion does not warrant your attempt to silence it, or make me feel like a judgmental bigot. I thought this was the forum for such discussions, but as always, internet tete-a-tete leads to name-calling. I assure you I am not prejudiced in this, or any other way.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
    • NOVANative

      Well, Jake, my son plays sports year-round, gets 2 hours of screen time a day weekends only, eats food I prepare that is natural and healthy. Without medication he is so out of control his peers avoid and even ostracize him. Once we had him diagnosed (by a neurologist, clinical psychologist and psychiatrist) and began medication, his social life improved by leaps and bounds and he is growing out of being a lonely, anxious child. As a side effect, his grades are two full letter grades higher, but I was more concerned about his social life and the dire effects it was having on him.
      There are eight people (including adults) in my family with ADHD/ADD. Some of us do well enough in our own opinions without medication and some prefer to have medication. My son, who is now 12, prefers to have his meds on board, because he says he feels out of control without them. He truly cannot moderate his behavior without, and is now old enough that he knows that and doesn't like it. We should consider the statistic that children with untreated ADHD are 3 times as likely to suffer substance abuse disorders than their peers with treated or no ADHD. These kids (and adults) suffer.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:12 | Report abuse |
    • Cynthia Hartley

      I agree that ADHD has always been with us, but kids had the option of quiting school early. My Grandfather was sent home after only 2 weeks. He learned to read when he was 27. My grandmother taught him in the silence of their livingroom. Today the kids just drop out as soon as possible because the system says we teach every child as if he or she is going to college. And, all kids with every imaginable mental disorder are chunked into the regular classroom. There needs to be some differentiation of classes, so that every child has at least a minimal chance to succeed. We still need the technical trades as well as the others occupations. The smartest man I know is a mechanic who is ADHD. He learned his skills including how to cope with his ADHD in shop class not in comparative literature.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
    • Augsbee

      to Jake R: Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with children maturing at different rates, a heallthier diet or more outdoor activity. Their brain can't grow it's mental capacity as we do so the medication, the chemical fills in the gab of what is missing. Medication is not a quick fix, medication fills in what we have that they don't have. It's like eyeglasses, your vision has decreased and there's nothing you can do but get contact lenses or eyeglasses, you have no control over it. I have not met a kid yet that grew out of it as an adult but as long as they continue with their medication they do fine in College.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • Juju

      Jake, as a person with ADD who has, at 32, not yet grown out of it, I must say I'm mildly offended by your second post. You seem to imply that children with ADD don't spend enough time working on their focus skills. I'm here to tell you–that's so far from the truth. In second, third, fourth, and third grade (I got thrown back down!) before my diagnosis, I would have to stay up till 11 at night just trying to finish my homework. The entire time, my parents would be in the room, helping me or making sure I was sitting. My mother would say, "Put your pencil on the paper. Next word. What were you writing? Focus. Next word." Can you imagine doing that with your child for hours every single night?

      Not only was I very sad, because the material was easy to understand and I wanted to be playing instead of sitting there proving I understood it, but my poor parents were exhausted. Even with all our hard work, incentive charts, teacher contracts, and parent-teacher conferences, and tears, I could not focus.

      It breaks my heart to hear folks talk about ADD kids as lazy. And while those were not your words, you seem to imply that if we had just studied harder, learned a magic technique for making our brains stay on one track for more than two minutes, we would be fine.

      Oh, that you were right.

      For many of us, meds were (and continue to be) and absolute godsend. I no longer felt stupid because I could not repeat what the teacher had just said. In fact–I never got below a B again in my entire academic career including college and graduate school.

      But when I went off my meds experimentally for a while in my job–Wow. I almost lost it.

      I'm not saying that there are no strategies that help. There are. I've learned over the years what works for me. But by far the most effective is Medication.

      August 13, 2010 at 18:50 | Report abuse |
    • karen

      Hi Jake,
      Your problem is that you are what we call a "flat" or a "norm." I am going to assume that you children to do not have it and they will be flat or norms as well. Do you know what that means???? What it means is that they will be normal at everything. Yes, they will go to college and become something and will do okay, however one of the symptoms of ADHD for adults and children is where we excel....we are off the charts. My daughter at the age of 6 has a built in GPS system in her head. You could drop her off in the middle of Alabama and she will find her way back to New York without a map and without any help. Your norms couldn't do that in a hundred years and neither could you. We can also size someone up within the first ten seconds of meeting them. We can jump into their head...your head....and know where you are going before you do. Let me put it to you this way; unless you have walked the walk, don't talk the talk. Have fun with your flat life.

      August 16, 2010 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
  4. Robert Eanes

    Good article, but you make no mention of the fact that there is also a reason why ADD / ADHD has persisted in the gene pool. The short answer is that ADD / ADHD children and adults are the boundry pushers of society. We are the ones that despite being told the rules, and what is impossible, go out and do the impossible. Nature doesn't ask if a rule is sensible or ethical. It invents people like us to in order to explore other ways of doing things. If memory serves, around 20% of ADD / ADHD children or adults are what is considered "successful" ADD /ADHD people. "Successful" being a measure that is relative to "normal" people meaning equal to or better. The other 80% of us are in jail, or suffering from our inability to make our way in the world. There is nothing to deal with here.. no problem to fix. The cure for ADD / ADHD is for other people to learn to accept diversity and learn to teach diversity.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JIM S.

      Yiou are so right. Every child is different, and you show me a what a NORMALl child.is . My son has ADD and is breaking boundrys on a contuing basis that the EXPERTS said years ago he would never attain. i would caution parents new to this that to be VERY carefull when a teacher recommends to medicate your child. Mine started to develop tremors and facial tics as a reaction to Ritalin. Most teachers are too dam lazy to expend just a little more effort and attention than is needed to complete a lesson plan, and the child gets pinned with a label.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • JIM S.

      Also tolerance for the differences in each individual child/adult

      August 13, 2010 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
    • Zahara

      Bravo!! Although I don't have ADD / ADHD, I believe that we are all individuals and we are all the way we are for a reason. It is great that there are people who push the boundaries, no matter what the reason. I wish I could be like that...unfortunately I tend to always be concerned about the consequences of my actions regardless of whether or not a rule is "broken". I think the world would be an incredibly boring place if we were all "normal". On a slightlly different note, I recently finished the book "Thinking in Pictures" by Temple Grandin. She is an incredible woman with autism and her story really opened up my eyes as to the different ways people think. Perhaps people with ADD and ADHD simply think differently than others...amazing...

      August 13, 2010 at 18:54 | Report abuse |
  5. Anna

    There is a big difference between kids that truely have this disorder, and kids that are high strung, hyper, or have poor attention skills. A large problem in this country is everyone looks for the quick fix. If your kid is just out of control, and behaves badly, claiming that its ADD and putting them on meds is even worse than not doing anything. For all the parents out there that dont want the time to parent, stop having kids!

    August 13, 2010 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 2true

      It is NOT a matter of poor parenting, except to the largely uninformed. Some people just refuse to believe it is in the child's makeup. I'm not about to physically abuse my child because he has a medical condition some people refuse to acknowledge. As most parents of ADHD children can attest, it takes years of patience to get the child to the same level as his/her peers in controlling emotional outburst, following instructions, and just getting simple tasks accomplished. I don't have near the level of frustration with my son's two non-ADHD siblings.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
  6. Aviva L.

    ADHD is very real and was simply not diagnosed 30 years ago. I have it, along with an above average IQ. My parents to me to the shrink who tested my IQ and knew nothing of ADHD. My IQ was high, so he told my parents there was no reason I couldn't get my school work done & it added a lot more pressure. Then I started self medicatiing with drugs and alcohol. Now I have a child with sever ADHD. When he started taking a ritalin based medication the changes were dramatic. He became a straight astudent who finished assignments. It was wonderful for his self esteem. He stopped his annoying little habits of noises and movement that drove the kids in class crazy. He still was the same fun, emotional kid, who could concentrate on things that are necessary.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Madea

    I'm a grown woman who has lived with ADHD all my life. Well, it's ADD now. I'm not half as hyper as I was as a child. I thought I was crazy, growing up. Then, one day, in my 20s, a friend said she was tested for it and was on medication. I looked up the symptoms and figured that was definitely me. But I was shamed to get tested. So, when my daughter was six and couldn't sit still at school or focus, I had her tested. She had it, too. I went ahead and got tested and medicated. Needless to say that I am able to focus and both of my kids are on medication, which is the only thing that keeps them in their desks and in learning mode.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. JakeF

    Funny how people suffer from ADHD but have no problem sitting in front of their computers for hours on playing video games or spending time on their favorite social networking site.

    Please. We live in a soundbyte world. This article clocks in at a whopping 553 words. I'm surprised we had time to read through it.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • john doe

      JakeF, you are retarded. The reason why people with ADHD can sit on the computer for hours, as you have stated, is because they hyper focus. Please, learn your facts you poor, uneducated person.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
    • john doe

      Oh and if you cannot 553 words in one sitting, well, God have mercy on you.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:31 | Report abuse |
    • chopkins


      August 13, 2010 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • Jen_8675309

      the reason that children (and adults) with ADD/ADHD have no trouble sitting in front of computers, video games, etc is because of the fast movements and it keeps their attention with the constant change. DUH.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:12 | Report abuse |
    • Mother and Scholar

      Thank you John, so so so true! and yes people please before you comment do your research. Children or people with ADHD commonly can sit for hours and hours working on one thing that they are interested in, it is like tunnel vision. At other times (when they are bored out of their minds) they are all over the place this is VERY common in people with ADHD. How do I know though since I only have TWO degrees in psychology. and since I have two children with ADHD and since I myself have ADHD. Read research, talk to people, get real world experience. Everyone can have an opinion, but the bottom line is the children that have ADHD, suffer and it is not poor parenting, or economic class, or anything like that that makes them have it. In face, if you do research ADHD is just as common in other countries as it is in the United States. Also, yes our faster paced society has to be tougher on children with ADHD, there is so much to stimulate their minds (computers, cell phone, tv, video games, and on and on). Take a child with ADHD out into the fresh clean air in nature and you will see their so called "poor behavior" dissappear almost immediatly. OK I have said enough.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • brent

      jakoff: speak not that of which you know not of.

      August 13, 2010 at 18:01 | Report abuse |
  9. Becky

    I believe ADHD is real. I have worked as a counselor and have seen it's effects. I used to think that much of it was poor parenting until I had my 3rd child. The first two were perfect at school, the teachers couldn't say anything but how wonderful they were. This child, he is super smart, but classic ADHD. We have made it through two years of school with no medication, but I worry everyday that I am going to get that phone call from the school insisting that he be medicated. He is a great kid, but trouble should have been his middle name. Don't tell me I need to discipline him, that is all we have done for the last 6 years!!! I know why parents resort to medication, because they are tired, and just want a normal life back.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TC


      As a parent of a child with ADHD, I would NEVER allow the school system to determine when or if my child needs medication – and neither should you. My child's pediatrician, the psychologist who tested my child for ADHD, my husband and I all communicate with one another and are all on the same page regarding my child and whether or not medication is needed. Schools and their personnel are not qualified to make those determinations – teachers need to worry about teaching and not diagnosing health or mental issues. My child's teacher is made aware of the ADHD and we provide him/her with suggestions of how best my child behave and learns – a partnership based on the best education for my child and the children in the whole classroom.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:04 | Report abuse |
    • NOVANative

      Please, Becky. My son is not medicated because I want my life back. He is medicated to give HIM HIS life back. He wouldn't go without his meds. There are degrees of ADHD. Some can get by without meds, some can't. My poor son was a social pariah until we medicated him. Now, he is a popular, lively, good student and friend.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • 2true

      I can totally relate. We made a compromise - meds during the school day and no meds on weekends or vacations. I would have preferred not to medicate at all, but the school would call constantly saying there was this problem or that problem with my son. The medication is just so that he can make it through the school year. My husband is a teacher so I do have compassion for the teachers who have to deal with ADD kids. It's hard enough for them with 20 – 30 students. Even having one child constantly disrupting the classroom means the other children are not getting the instruction they need. There is a lot to be considered in your child's treatment, but you need to do what is best for you.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
    • onwisconson


      I can't help but hurt for you and your child as I read your post. Let me give you a child's perspective on this. My mother was a teacher and made the decision that I would not receive ritalin. Instead, she would use discipline and teach me to control myself. This turned into a nightmare for both of us. It was a battle of wills. I had no understanding of her aims at the time and saw them only as attempts to have total control over me. She lost. She punished by taking away privileges, hitting, slapping, and even resorting to beating me with belts. Again, she lost. In my teen years she said the most horrendous things that a mother could ever say to her child. I know that she regrets them, though she still justifies her use of corporal punishment and the withholding of medication.

      I have chosen to forgive her in order to have a relationship with her. I'm 44. I only have one mother. Sometimes you have to put things aside. Sometimes when we venture into that area for discussion, I am reminded that those scars are not yet healed for me and probably never will be.

      I bring this story of our past to you in hopes that you will reconsider your path with your son. I grew up knowing that I was being disciplined (punished) for something I could not control. Something in me was wrong, bad, and unnatural. Though I have a very high IQ and was succeeding academically, I was not succeeding socially and this was blamed on my ADHD (then called hyperactivity syndrome). Had I been allowed to take the medication I take now (and have taken since adulthood) I could have had a chance at controlling those behaviors on my own.

      Instead, it took years for me to develop my self esteem. I still don't trust my mother. I love her but it is complicated. I know she loves me, in her way, but she loves what I have achieved, not the child I was then.

      August 15, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
  10. garc

    I think it's true that it's overdiagnosed and too many kids in particular are overmedicated. However: It worries me when people take that tack to the extreme, too, because I believe some people genuinely have it. As an example, I'm nearly 41; I was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten and it was not so "hip" back then. In fact, not many people had heard of it and for sure, nobody was prescribing anything. Well, I could've used something! Many years later, having changed colleges, jobs, states, etc. multiple times, as well as having bankrupted at one point, all while looking for the magic "fix" that would've cured the boredom/inattentiveness, I could have spared myself a hell of a lot of trouble had I had some kind of treatment when I needed it. I guess what I'm saying is that kids in particular need truly observant people to make these diagnoses and prescribe meds as needed, rather than either handing them out like candy or withholding them when they are truly necessary.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CookieCookie

      My son was diagnosed with ADHD and I fear the he will have the same life experience that you have had if we don't get a good handle on it. Thank you for your comment.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
  11. Christi

    I agree that our society has become less tolerant of children being children. And the parents are being less involved and attentive. At the same time, the chemicals, hormones, and toxins that these companies are placing in our now genetically modified food cause massive bodily changes over time... earlier maturation, chronic inflammation internally, long term structural changes to the brain. These pharmaceutical companies that are tied into the food we eat are gladly finding a 'cure' for the food they are poisoning!
    Thanks a lot Monsanto... I hope your kids bouce off your walls

    August 13, 2010 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bkk

    He who thinks this disease is a joke, is so ignorant it's not worth commenting on.

    Same as thinking people with reading glasses are crazy if you don't need glasses.

    People are dying daily trying to get out of hell
    With drugs, alcohol excess. 40% of druggies, gamblers are ADHD or add.

    I have it severe and with the meds, I still
    Think it would be good to suicide, not that I would do it. But Add takes you there in a breeze, no depression needed. All rational...

    Sadly humans don't get humans.

    Move on, it's uglier than having curable cancer. At least your brain work and you live
    Decades. Withhold Add your life till the last
    Heartbeat will involve some hell. Dirtiest disease I gave seen if severe


    August 13, 2010 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RyanF

    As an individual with both a personal and professional interest in the topic of ADHD, I have read many of the comments with bated breath. I am relieved that CNN has responded to the previous article with this one, clearing up confusion that obviously existed among the readers and commenters.

    As a school psychology doctoral student, ADHD is foremost in our training regimen. I take this disorder very seriously because, much to the chagrin of many, it is real... and it is severely over diagnosed. A child with ADHD is not "a child who isn't paying attention." It's a child who "can't pay attention." These are children who get frustrated easily because of the expectations placed on them; not because of inability, but because of this disorder. These are children who, with proper intervention (be it behavioral or medicinal), can succeed in the classroom, in life, and anywhere else.

    The problem arises when people get misdiagnosed and prescribed medicine ... that actually makes them focus better! It helps them to pay attention! Well, that's what the medicine does; it alters the chemistry of the mind to enhance these traits in humans. Just because a vitamin makes you feel better doesn't mean you have a vitamin deficiency, it just means you got more of what your body uses to function. ADHD medications are very similar. This leads to the popular misnomer that if the medicine works, you must have the disorder, which is painfully untrue. The effects of the medication are why it s so abused by students around the nation (and easily so, with the over-prescribing that goes on regarding it).

    If you are an educator, do not tell a parent "I think your child has ADHD." You could become liable for damages, if there are any, as a result; diagnosis of this disorder requires a step-by-step process by a trained professional (be they a psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician).

    August 13, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DrADHD

      I am a DR with ADHD and for some unknown reason people believe it is the sugar that causes the hyperactivity. IT actually has more to do with food colorings and dyes that are used. You could give your child 2 products one sugar free and one with sugar and they are going to act the same based off of the dyes/colorings in that particular product.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      Bravo! It's a relief to see a 'Professional' state that ADHD, ADD is over diagnosed. I used to take care of a friends children week nights while she went to school. Her son was diagnosed ADHD, went through a battery of test for food allergies, was even institutionalized for a few weeks by the doctors. He was 8. During a visit during his 'hospital' stay we sat down to dinner with him. His plate – from the staff nutritionist – was full of foods he was diagnosed as 'allergic' to which supposedly increased his symptoms. On the nights I watched him and his sister, he would get his homework done, get his bath, eat dinner, never had a temper tantrum (we are talking months now, not a week or two) because I flat out told him, I came from divorced parents too, I still had to do homework, keep myself clean and not take my hurt out on the world so I wouldn't tolerate him taking it out on me. Yet when his mother was around none of this could get done – his excuse "The doctor's said I can't help it." He bought into his dianosis. They've all survived, he's grown up and is a responsible adult. I to this day do not believe he ever had ADHD. Any child with a behavior problem given an 'out' by adults, especially doctors or teachers, will take it and continue to misbehave. It's part of the difference between being a child and growing up – many adults will take any 'out' offered to them and behave criminally because "I'm an adict, I'm an alcoholic, I was abused". For those who truly have this problem – all these false diagnosis don't help them – it just makes the rest of us less tolerant of more special needs children.

      August 13, 2010 at 19:42 | Report abuse |
  14. Margot Dragon

    It is a glucose intolerance. Just about everything that kids are exposed to such as the fruit drinks, sodas, candy, and even the dairy products create the hyperactive state. The process foods do two things one is crate hyper activity then moody swings and violence. There are no whole grains in the diet to help normalize the blood sugar levels. If you take the kids off these foods then there is no need for the medications. It is improtant to undersand how you feel after your eat in order to understand how your body reacts to the foods. I always ask the parents to monitor behavior after kids eat.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chopkins

      My son and I are strick vegans. No processed foods have ever been a part of his diet. explain that now

      August 13, 2010 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. James Avery, MD

      Margot Dragon, first of all, I want to express my opinion of what a horrible name you have. Second of all, you are obviously an uneducated person, since you believe that a simple sugar is the cause for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
    • Lis

      Food intolerances can actually cause ADD, as well as a host of other issues (skin conditions, hair loss, IBS). However, it is not the sole cause of ADD. It can partially explain the increase in ADD, though.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Wow! How easy it is to sit above this and judge. I've not fed my children sugar, only whole grains, we grow our own organic vegetables, no TV, lots of fresh air and sunshine in the country, etc. I spent 3 years trying to deny that there was an issue, until I really learned about ADHD and observed my children, the one with ADHD and the one without. They are wired differently – not good, not bad, just different.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:54 | Report abuse |
    • TC


      Some foods can exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD – it is not the root cause. Do your homework.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  15. star

    ADDH is a type of wiring, not a disease. It has been around forever, it is not new. It just wasnt seen as a disorder until these kids were forced to fit into a school box that is alien to their wiring. I like the Hunters and Farmers analogies. We need Hunters who like adventure and immediate gratification and who can tune out the wind while they hone in on every crack of a twig, and we need farmers who dont mind the repetition of weeding, hoeing, planting, and waiting for the sowing months later.
    The west was settled by the pioneer spirited adventurers who brought their ADDH wiring west with them. Kids used to have lots of opportunities to express their wiring: Johnny was a cowboy, and James became a storekeeper. So they did not seem abnormal. School also did not used to be hours upon hours in a classroom. In the 60's, kids went to school at 8:30, had a morning recess, an hour for lunch, and sometimes an afternoon recess. They went home, did half an hour of homework and went out to play. Now there are no recesses, half an hour or less for lunch, and hours of homework for first and second graders even. It is not developmentally appropriate. Music and art and PE are being eliminated. We are creating NOT the ADDH, but the PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED with it.
    Having said all that, many kids who are just undisciplined and have never been taught to try, to sit, to mind their manners, take no for an answer, or wait are being labelled ADDH when the reality is they are products of permissive or exhausted working parents and just lack direction and structure.
    The answer for ADDH is not medication, although it is a REAL syndrome. The answer is to redo the way we do school.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CookieCookie

      I aggree with most of what you said but I also believe that like high blood pressure sometimes diets alone is just not enough.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:44 | Report abuse |
    • CrisInCali

      I very much agree with this assessment you made.

      I too, had read a bit about this study (hunters / farmers idea/analogy) and it made SO much sense to me! For us as a species to survive, we need BOTH types of people: One that can do tasks at hand; one that is always looking, always aware. And the school systems indeed have changed very much - that there is much less free time, recreation, and activities for just creativity (ex: art, music, recess, p.e..) These "types" of classes/time structure are all the first things to be cut, and have been cut – sometimes entirely – due to either budget cuts and/or increases in academic goals/testing. Without such classes as an avenue for physical release of this keen "high alert" type of attention - it leaks out in other ways – that due to the classroom environment - are deemed "unacceptable" or "not desired". I agree, that we notice ADHD / ADD more (in part) , due to changes in the classroom over the years that creates a mis-match for people whose brains are wired with the high-alert type attention.

      August 14, 2010 at 04:58 | Report abuse |
  16. riz

    Well I think that.... wait what was this story about? JGF DLIUBYDILIRLDM IF$%^*&%^*%&*$#%$@$%#%^I^&%U^JHG CHG<DBG< woops sorry got a little carried... wait what was I saying, oh yeah, I thinkk that ADH B C D E F G H I J K L M OPP yeah you know me!!!

    August 13, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. jpeay

    I do believe it is a real condition. However, I also believe that most people, especially kids need a better balanced diet, exercise and curriculum that better suits their abilities. Too often children come to school after eating sugary cereal, are forced to sit at a desk and during instruction have to wait long periods of time while "others" try to catch up. There is only so much of that a child can take before they talk, fidget or get themselves in trouble.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Kristy

    To JoelSp ab=nd the rest of you negative people: You say in the 70's there was no ADD or ADHD. Well in the 60's there was no AIDS. Does that mean that it doesn't exist now? You are mocking this disease and the children and adults that have it by saying it wasn't around in the 70's so it can't be around now. Do some research before you blurt out such stupidness. I used to be one of those moms who didn't "believe" in it, until I got smacked in the race with reality. My son has it and so do I. Unless you have it or have a loved one with it you have NO right to judge anyone. Unless you deal with this disease every waking day shut the hell up. I just found out I have it and finally feel like I understand why I am so different and why I do the things I do. I was reprimanded as a child and so is my child. The answer to all lifes problems are not to assault a child. The only thing assaulting a child does is teach them its ok to do it to others. After therapy,punishments and other forms of treatment sometimes meds are the only thing that works. Would you be rude about a person that takes meds for depression? I mean depression wasn't talked about in the 1920's but is majorly diagnosed now. You can't see the depression and only the patient feels the symptoms. Should we should smack them or punish them to make it go away? It can't be real right? No xray or blood test can diagnose it so it must me fake. How would you like the next time you have a headache, I call you a liar? I can't see the headache so maybe you just need a smack in the butt and you will be fine. How do I know you are not lying about the headache. People are just so hateful and rude. Instead of blabbing about how the disease does not exist do the research and try to understand just as we now understand about things like AIDS and depression. Just like we understand now about OCD and anxiety. In the mean time feel free to take the rude opinions and shove it.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Lis

    It's been shown that people with ADD show different patterns in brain scans. It's been shown that their brains develop differently, as well. People with ADD respond differently to ADD-medication than non-ADD kids. So yes, ADD exists. I think the questions are- is it actually a problem or just a 'personality' trait, and how it should be handled.

    I was a pretty out of control child with a very high IQ. In school, my teachers requested me to get tested for ADD- twice. The counselor told them I was just smart and bored. I continued through school- actually excelling- but was constantly in trouble, lost EVERYTHING (retainers, phones, wallets, purses, homework, even things i was wearing like earrings), etc. etc. Over time I learned to cope but it was hard- I learned to be very OCD about my scheduling, to do lists, and my emails, and developed systems that worked for it. I learned that I only do well when I'm completely stressed out- so I would overschedule my academics and extracurricular activities. I was constantly stressed out but I did well. I also turned to alcohol and caffeine- no doz, lattes, and wine were my choices. The wine quieted my brain so I could focus. The alcohol/caffeine was the only way I could study for tests or read chapters I found boring. From there it is an easy step to other kinds of stimulants.

    After college, I got a full-time job, and while they were very intellectual, it is impossible to be constantly stressed out at a desk job. I couldn't handle being at work, especially meetings- my personal hell. The best way to explain the feeling is... I almost feel like I'm going to EXPLODE from the inside out, snap, get up, run around hitting people and screaming incoherently at the top of my lungs. I would have conversations with people, or do things, and have no memory of where things were or what we agreed upon. I finally got tested through a series of assessments, tests, etc. and was found to have ADD. I was put on Adderrall and responded AMAZINGLY. When people talked, I could actually listen to the words- something I have never really done before. I asked my co-workers if they noticed a difference at work, and they said I appeared less frazzled and more put-together. I was less irritated and angry. I finally felt like I was in my body, and not just restless and out of control.

    Could I be successful without medicine? Yes. I was. But the effort it took to living in a world with people whose brains work differently from mine was EXHAUSTING. Things that come easy to normal people were so hard for me. (For the record, some things that normal people can't do- like listen to someone talk, type, be having a text conversation and watch a tv show at the same time- are incredibly easy to me, and actually I prefer it). I feel much safer and better being using a prescription medicine and being monitored with my use than trying to operate my life with a combination of alcohol, caffeine and stress.

    ADD is a gradient- kind of like depression- just because you're sometimes bored, it doesn't mean you understand what it is like for someone with full-blown ADD. Just like if you're sad every now and then, you don't understand what it is like for someone will full-blown clinical depression.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kristy

      Wow that was very well written and I agree with you 100percent. I wonder if people were more tolerant if our differences would be celebrated instead or harassed? I't's like they see a 2×4 board and we see the blueprints for a treehouse lol.

      August 13, 2010 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
    • NOVANative

      Thank you Lis. that was awesome 🙂

      August 13, 2010 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • Zahara

      You absolutely hit the nail on the head with the last part. Just because someone gets sad now and then does not mean they understand what depression is. I have been undergoing treatment for depression for the last three years and believe me, clinical depression is waaaaayyyyy different than simply being sad. For this reason, I feel as if I can relate to people with ADD. I often hear that depression is not real and that people with it just can't handle stress, life or anything else. That is so not true. Just like someone who truly has ADD can't concentrate, sit still or do well in the boxed setting known as school.

      August 13, 2010 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
    • mirrorme


      Thanks for this. It helps to hear someone else acknowledge how exhausting it is to do things that most people find easy. It leaves little energy for anything else, like laundry 🙂 (you don't want to see the laundry room, or the piles of school papers I've been "organizing" for three months) I am 40 and finally on my way to trying medication. My coffee consumption is too high, my arsenal of herbal treatments is too unproven, and my main coping skill–motivation through obsessive worry about public failure– is too unhealthy. When you said that you feel safer on your meds than you would feel continuing to self medicate, well that was a perspective I hadn't considered, so thanks for that too.

      August 14, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Lis – you hit MY nail on the head as well. After extensive testing, I took hard-core prescription drugs when I was 8 back in the late 60s and my mother says that's the only way she survivied my childhood. I certainly do think differently than others, even my brothers. I'm no longer on drugs (was only on them about 5 years until I went to a school that didn't allow it), but there are times now, 40 years later, that certain factors, like off-the-chart stress, bring some of the lesser known symptoms (like "blinking") to the surface. but the creativity it allows overall, and the ability to multi-task is wonderful.
      I do, however, object for it to be the catch-all excuse for poor training. Comparing ADHD or hyper-kenetic as it was called in my day, to depression is a way to look at it. Not to be taken lightly, but it's real.

      August 16, 2010 at 16:21 | Report abuse |
  20. Laura

    We tried everything over 15 years ago to not have to medicate our son. All natural diet, lots of fresh air and exercise, strict and structured upbringing, reading with him, no TV or video games, etc. He had a history of hyperactivity as at 15 months he climbed out of his crib and never looked back at "normal" childhood. At 2 we had to lock him in his room at night or he would wander the house, turn on hot water faucets, move chairs to get to the stove, etc. while we slept. When he hit school, for 3 years we denied an issue despite some very obvious symptoms, but he could not stay seated and keep a pencil on a piece on paper to do schoolwork. When we finally gave in to medication in third grade it was like having a new child. Mostly, he felt better about himself and about his relationship with his peers and he could begin to catch up in school. Unfortunately everyone has an opinion about this, and many are not based on experiencing a true ADHD child. My son is now a college graduate, having been able to give up meds in High School and learning to self-manage his condition. When I was a child, in the 60's these kids just got lost in the school systems eventhough they were often very intelligent. Some felt they succeeded in life and some didn't. Its so important to not generalize and to look at every child individually without sweeping generalizations.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anothermuse

      Well said. Case by case. There is no blanket answer..

      August 13, 2010 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  21. Dr. Will Palmer, M.D.

    I am with Dr. Avery on this one. I have two children diagnosed with the disorder and sugar is not the cause. Stupid ideas like this is what separates you, Dragon, from Dr. Avery and myself. While we are out driving BMW's and living in big houses, you come up with crazy ideas. Shame on you!

    August 13, 2010 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • riz

      It's pretty hilarious how Md's always have to post their job title with their names. Even when simply commenting on a CNN story ( I know this is a story about a health issue, but I see it all the time in other stories as well).... I just hope the obvious insecurity implied by that action is no reflection of a lack of/sub par ability to do their jobs properly... Congrats on the beamer and big house btw you're just SO amazing. Everyone should strive to validate their existence based on their material possessions... it's the ONLY way to live! (You could have gloated about the fact that you are supposedly helping people working as a Dr. but alas you just couldn't take the high road could you?).

      August 13, 2010 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
  22. Anothermuse

    Whether it is a real biological disorder does not address the too quick to prescribe mentality. It should be a serious decision for parents to allow a life long drug therapy to be administered without first working through other solutions. One day the child won't have their drugs, they need to learn how to work through the challenge if they are to succeed in life.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Lis

    PS The increase in ADD can be explained through a lot of different ways. The chemicals in our containers, for example, can affect brain development. Food intolerances (especially food dye) have been shown to cause ADD. Mal-absorption of nutrients can also cause ADD. Sometimes the root cause of a person's ADD can be found through food elimination diets, etc. I'd guess that while ADD is real, our changing food sources and lifestyles have also played a part.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. lewax00

    I think ADHD is.........HEY LOOK A SQUIRREL!

    August 13, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Roy

    I hold the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies responsible for this mess. They've created the problem by making the majority of the American population become addicted to chemically laced foods, creating illness, and the pharmaceutical companies so graciously pick up slack by creating miracle cures for everything. "Hey, just pop a pill!" I know someone who takes 16 pills a day, and for what? Because they've been made dependent on them. Eat whole, organic, raw foods. Become active. Get outside. Drugs are not the answer.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RIch

      You obviously don't know what you're talking about. As someone who has suffered from ADHD my whole life, having to learn to cope with things because I was so "strange," being brought up on a good diet, spending quite a bit of time outdoors, and still being unable to focus and be attentive. So I say bring on the "magic cure," or more into reality bring on something that will balance the neurotransmitters and allow me to work to my full potential. Thanks to this "magic cure" I have been able to exceed expectations and am currently on my way to getting my doctorate, I have tried not taking medication and resulted in decreased academic and social performance, so again I say BRING ON THE PILL!!! And please, think before you speak, type, or have any comment to give to others.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
    • Roy

      Rich: Absolutely. If you've been able to thrive on medication after being raised on a well-balanced diet, and getting outside, then you're clearly doing what you can to succeed in life. I'm truly not trying to offend here. You could be an exception. Have you tried treatment besides western medications, such as acupuncture or homeopathy? These have been known to correct misguided paths within us.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:18 | Report abuse |

      I think people may have ADHD, but the severity depends on the person. Drug companies have been pushing these drugs so people think they have to take it, regardless of the severity. People who don't have ADHD also think they have it, so overall drug companies make money. I wouldn't say it was a made up disease, but I think many people who don't REALLY need the medication get pushed it. I have ADHD, but I don't think I was bad enough to require medication. I'm fine now.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
  26. CATom

    There is no such thing as ADHD it is a made-up disease so drug companies can seel more pills. These ADHD people just need a good ass-kicking and face reality. In older times these rejects would be left for dead but modern medicine keeps them alive so they can be as retarded as they want.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sandy R.

      Are you for real? Is it possible that an idiot such as yourself is able to use a computer to voice such a horrible remark about a very real and very difficult disability to deal with? I am stunned. It's people like you that hurt others and cause people like my daughter to cry herself to sleep. I'd wish for your death but because iIknow I'm above you and stupid comments like that I wish you the ability to learn compassion and understanding.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • CookieCookie

      You an idiot! You were probably one of those unpopular kids in school who were made fun of and teased and now as an adult you want to take it out on the whole world and those that you feel are less than you because you felt that you were less than as a child. Grow up and get over it!

      August 13, 2010 at 17:57 | Report abuse |
  27. minasaywhat

    I was diagnosed with ADHD 8 years ago, after 6 hrs of IQ testing and many hours with a learning specialist (after HS and college). I didn't have meds when I went to school, so I compensated by studying 3-4 times as long as others performing at my level. Meds can help some people with ADHD, but what's outrageous is how quickly the diagnosis is given and medications are prescribed – without ANY testing. I know so several people who have said to their doctor "I'm having troubled concentrating, I think I have ADD" and they walk out with an RX for amphetamines. CRAZY.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mom

    Wow, have any of you ever had a child with ADHD? Have you ever watched your child who has tested as academically gifted struggle to add two plus two because his "brain just isn't working Mommy." Have you ever had to try to comfort a child who was humiliated by his behavior but simply couldn't stop in the moment? Have you ever watched as your amazing child gets left off of birthday invitation after birthday invitation because he's unpredicitible? Then, with medication watching him feel empowered because he can choose his behavior, his focus is up "100 percent" per the teacher. He is still goofy at times and still very much himself but he can choose how to behave in different circumstances. Like all kids, sometimes he makes good choices and sometimes not so good, but he has choices and self-esteem. Until you live it, you simply cannot judge.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Roy

      I wish your son the best.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
    • Sandy R.

      I live it every day with my ten year old daughter. As a Mom I wouldn't want her any other way, than as perfect as she is and by the way she has ADHD. Unless you live with it or in the life of someone with it you have no idea the great joy and the great pain it causes.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:31 | Report abuse |
  29. HLN

    As someone said earlier, case by case. There is no blanket answer. However, the definition of childhood (and esp teenagers!) is ADD. They are treating way too much, way too early. If these symptoms are still there in early adulthood, ok, different story.

    August 13, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Rebecca Rose Morris Brownell

    I agree with out having researched ADDH that options other than medications should be considered.. Above I read "...But there is no test, such as a blood test, to diagnose ADHD..."
    "...pediatrician Dr. Claudia Gold..."., encourages options other than medications above also.

    Below is an Excerpt of an e-mail to CNN on HIV infection through Mosquitoes. (Not ADDH but important)
    My name is Rebecca Rose Brownell. I am from Liberia, West Africa. I have a B.S. in Chemistry(major) Biology (minor) and did up to 3rd year medicine at the University of Liberia in WestAfrcia. I have been doing research online and searched The American Journal of Medicine, Harrison Practice Answers on Demand, AIDS.gov, U.S. Center for Disease Control, but did not see any article or journal with the findings about the possibility of transmission of HIV through mosquitoes. The articles I read dispute the possibility of transmission of HIV through Mosquitoes. I am 100% sure in the absence of statistically proven lab or other research that after a bite/blood meal of The Anopheles mosquito which causes malaria, of an HIV infected person, contact of the infected blood with opening in the skin can transmit the HIV virus -common practices such as killing mosquitoes with the hands can transmit the virus from an infected individual to the person who killed a mosquito(s) with the hands with openings or injury such as cuts etc. and could cause HIV infection/AIDS.(The Palmer surfaces of the hands are commonly used to kill mosquitoes)
    Infection could be similar to infected blood from HIV infected patients coming in contact with openings in the skin causing infection/AIDS in hospital and other settings where gloves etc. are required to prevent transmission.

    I would like copy right privileges under the law for any sale or use of these findings please. Please help me get a book published with the findings by interviews, funding and sale to Publisher's etc. I am also trying to get funds for graduate school etc. and live in Public Housing right now.

    Rebecca Brownell

    August 13, 2010 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. LaurieS

    To idiots like JoelSP and others who don't believe that ADD and ADHD existed in the 70s. I can assure you all that it did. Back then, they called it as minimal brain dysfuncton. I have had ADHD my whole life, including when I was in school during the 60s and 70s. I can assure you it is real and my education and personal life suffered greatly because of it. I had great difficulty concentrating on any one thing for more than a few minutes at a time and literally moved nonstop as a child and a young adult. It's embarrassing today to see those old home movies of myself. I felt like I was robbed of my grade school and high school education and had a lot of catching up to do. Through sheer will and a lot of hard work I have a bachelors degree and I am working on my Masters right now. I found out about ADHD as an adult in college. I still have ADHD and I am 52. I used Ritalin briefly as an adult. I was absolutely amazed. Within 20 minutes of taking one pill, I felt "settled" for lack of a better word. It is still hard to describe. I was able to focus on what I was doing and tune out my own internal scattered thoughts and outside distractions. I didn't know that was how everyone else felt.

    So, JoelSP and other doubters, ADD/ADHD is real. It happens for various reasons such as lack of oxygen at birth, environmental contamination like lead poisoning, genetics, etc. Beating and demeaning your child is not the solution or the answer. For those children, teens and adults who "really" have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD by medical doctor who specializes in ADD/ADHD, medication really does wonders!

    August 13, 2010 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Brian

    I truly believe the way we learn is changing. I cannot stand schooling, but it does not mean that I don't love to learn new things. Someone standing there and lecturing me has me longing to look at the back of my eyelids in no time. Can't blame these kids for not wanting to listen to some old fogey ramble on for 45 minutes while sitting in the soft glow and low buzz of an overhead projector. It's boring, and completely counterproductive to any sort of learning.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. PeterPettigrew

    While ADHD is real and a condition a doctor can diagnose (no, teachers cannot and should not confront parents and say a child is ADHD) ... I believe ADHD can be reversed by the patient themselves with training. I had ADHD as a child and I learned through breathing techniques and concentration techniques to stay on task. Eventually these techniques became so natural that I didn't realize that I'd retrained my brain. In modern psychotherapy its called neurofeedback and it does seem to be very effective at taking the BETA brainwaves and bringing them back under control. Teaching a child early in age to simply 'take a moment and rest and breathe and control your response' is absolutely necessary. The problem is that we have two things in our culture that makes this impossible : (a) a society that no longer allows for 'breathing' time and (b) schools and teachers who want all student to "fit a mold" (when we all know full well everyone is unique and requires unique training needs). Therapy Drugs are not the answer and they only mask the problem so parents and teachers can continue to ignore their children with their busy lives.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Roy

    I believe that it's a real situation, and I'm sure it can be brought on by several factors. However, I guess the only thing I disagree with is the method of treatment. I'm just a firm believer in medications just add more chemicals to the body, creating new problems. Have many of you tried homeopathy or acupuncture by licensed physicians as treatment? What were the results?

    August 13, 2010 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Octojustice

    Here's what i say. You have a hard time concetrating. If somebody held a gun to your head and said; "learn this". i think 99% of those with ADHD would pick it up right quick. So there is an element of choice involved. I beleive that this segment of society would be well served with a smack to the bottom. That said i think that adderol is a much better stimulent (when not abused) than coffee and alows one to be much more effective and should be able to be aquired by more adults

    August 13, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      You obviously have no idea what ADHD even is... It isn't something that only meds can "fix", many people can, and do, get by with just hard work and trying to cope with it. BUT, that is extremely difficult when your mind likes to... wander.

      When I am off my meds I can lose hours and hours of my time without even realizing it. I will have gotten nothing done and have just wasted another day. I try to cope without meds as much as I can because they make me feel like a different person after I have been on them for a couple weeks, and I don't like that feeling. So, i take a lot of "breaks" from the meds when I can.

      Anyway, i'm just rambling and getting off topic here. Just wanted to say that, yes, discipline can, and does, make someone with ADHD actually productive... in the short term. It's called "hyper-focus" and it allows us with ADHD to, well, hyper-focus on and activity/project/etc and get it done extremely efficiently.

      August 13, 2010 at 16:33 | Report abuse |

      I think if the ADHD person's reaction would be, OMG I NEED TO LEARN- what kind of gun is that?

      Actually, I think if anyone had a gun pressed to their heads, they would have difficulty learning anything quickly. Just saying.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
    • brent

      octojustice: maybe a good slap would help sober a person up, but if a beating improved the behavior of an afflicted child, there would be a lot fewer children with ADHD. Yes /No. You don't really understand the problem and I feel bad for anyone whose behavior has been modified by your methods.

      August 13, 2010 at 17:51 | Report abuse |
  36. Joshua B

    I've lived with ADHD my entire life. At the early age of 6-7 I was dependent on Ritalin because I needed it. That was only because I didn't have the cognitive ability to understand how to control it at such a young age. Now that I am older I am still very much ADHD however I don't take any type of medicine. When I was 14 I realized how to overcome the "disability" of ADHD (If you have adhd its hard to focus when there is ambient noise going on and you are trying to pay attention to someone talking to you.) I learned through a series of techniques that I can control my listening pattern and also how to stop having my mind wander only to snap out of it and miss the entire conversation at hand.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Charles

    The NIH benefits from finding diseases and conditions. Congress increases their funding if a condition warrants further study. The fact that the NIH reports that "some" regions of the brain reach maturation as long as three years late is some of the worst scientific reporting I've ever seen. Which regions? Chances are they're related to personality development and have nothing to do with cognitive behavior, or they would have said that. In reality, it's the way we teach children that is the problem. Training them to sit at a desk all day does not promote healthy lifestyles. Removing recesses only exacerbates the problem.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Jen

    I taught for many years, and I was always told never to suggest that a child has ADD or ADHD. I would describe the problems the child had in school (hyperactive, trouble focusing, ect), but I never gave it a label. I knew I was not a doctor, and I did not want to try to make a diagnosis to a parent. The most uncomfortable situations were when a parent would ask if they should medicate. So many times, I felt the child would be more successful if they did, but I wasn't going to say so. I always suggested they see a doctor.The only child I would make that decision for would be my own.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Mike

    There is a test for ADHD using a PC and a program that asks for a click when say a switch is on, normal people make a few mistakes, but those with ADHD make so many more, their impulse is to make a click all the time. Also there is the QEEG, a qualitative EEG, that gives a picture of brain function, and that shows those with ADD and ADHD.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Bipolar Man

    ADHD sounds like a question of whether the glass half empty or half full, as with many mental "disorders."

    yes, there are serious problems associated with it, but i imagine there are also some real benefits (coming from someone with bipolar disorder). i can get crazy amounts of things done in small periods of time in less than desireable conditions... try full time college, working part time, playing sports, managing a guild on world of warcrack, and keeping up on your social life. throughout history there have been exceptional individuals with serious mental "disorders."

    in some instances you can choose to view things as a blessing or a curse, who cares what anybody else tells you

    August 13, 2010 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Jim

    I was diagnosed as being "hyperactive" when I was a kid (before the term ADHD was used regularly) and confirmed that I had ADHD recently. It's frustrating talking about it with peope who don't have ADHD because they assume that it's a matter of mental discipline and just trying harder to focus.

    There's definitely a biological component to it, although I think environmental factors play a part as well (especially diet) – I've read that it could be related to low dopamine levels in the brain. Stimulant medications definitely do help, although it doesn't seem like the ideal long term solution...

    August 13, 2010 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Relieved Grandmother

    When you or a member of your family does not suffer from this condition, it is easy to say that it does not exist, that the drug companies are tying to make money, and that it can be cured with exercise and healthy foods. You do not understand how a child's self esteem suffers, how the family is unable to attend something as simple as a movie, because the child can't sit still. How quality of life, on a whole is changed. However, when medication is given, in my case to my wonderful 6 year old grand son, who now excels in school, makes friends, and can participate in summer camp activities. Our family thank the doctors. Until you have walked in these particular shoes, don't judge.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CookieCookie

      Thank you for your post. I have the same problem with my son. He is never invited to classmates parties. We invate all his classmates to his birthday party and the only people that showed up was family. We don't go to the movies or out to eat because we do recognize that other people are paying too and we don't want them disturbed. The only place we feel comfortable is at Chucky Cheeses. I worry about his socialization. We all need it and judging from some of the other posts by people here some need it more than others or didn't have much of it growing up.

      August 13, 2010 at 18:09 | Report abuse |
  43. RobertH

    There are a couple problems with all the stuff being posted here:

    1) What is ADHD/ADD? Most people don't have a clue. This is why we see ignorant posts about just spanking your kid into submission or cutting out sugar in their diet. What most people know about this disorder comes from short articles in a newspaper or magazine or a 2 minute sound bite on TV. In both cases the focus is on how kids in school are acting up, acting out and so forth because school is the area where ADHD/ADD can most visibly manifest itself. Unfortunately what people are seeing are symptoms that mimic other things like glucose hyperactivity or simple behavioral issues. So it is not surprising that people think it is no big deal and that a kid just needs more firm parenting or a diet adjustment. This disorder is far more than "Johnny disturbing his fellow students". Even most Doctors don't have a clue which is why this disorder is so over diagnosed. I suggest to people who think this is not "real" to actually read about the topic and understand how it affects people's lives, not just their schooling. It is far more than, "Oh this is too boring, I think I will toss a paper airplane across the room".

    2) Range of severity: like any illness the severity can vary from person to person. In mild cases the illness can be managed with behavior modification. In more severe cases all the breathing control or whatever won't make a difference. Intelligence, home life and a host of other factors also contribute to a person's ability to cope with this or any other disorder. So I wish people would not apply what worked for them so universally. What you were able to do is not what everyone can do and might not work in any case. People can certainly try but the attitude that "It worked for me therefore it works for everyone" is a false one.

    3) Cure – there is no "cure" for ADHD/ADD. It is not a cold or cancer or any other illness with a definite cause and a course of treatment that enables one to live life disease free. It is a permanent condition that has to be managed. The severity may change over time, for better or worse, but it is always there. Treatment means treating the symptoms so the patient can live a more normal life. To dismiss drugs or therapy because they only mask the symptoms and don't cure the disorder exhibits a profound misunderstanding of what the disorder is. There is a reason why it is called a "disorder" and not a "disease" or "illness". The words are not synonyms.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Jem

    I am not convinced either way...all I know is that my younger brother once dreamed of joining the air force and becoming an engineer....then he was diagnosed with ADHD and given ritalin (which disqualifies him for all military service) and he became withdrawn and disinterested in most everything.
    As an un medicated adult now he has a very blah outlook on life....he has musical talents but no drive to aspire to be more than the store manager of a mall clothing store.
    Almost seems depressed now....should he be medicated for THAT too??
    So sad.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mirrorme

      I've heard that being over medicated with stimulants can cause people to appear withdrawn. Also, there are co-morbid conditions such as depression, anxiety, ocd, that can stem from difficulties caused by ahd itself. And, unfortunately medicating for adhd does not also protect you from life circumstances or other biology that might make you more prone to depression. So, yeah, maybe he could use some help with that. Counseling or otherwise. Pity probably doesn't help though.

      August 14, 2010 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  45. RobertH

    Jem – Major Depression is a very real and serious condition. It is not just "oh I feel down or sad" or "oh my kitten just died, boo hoo". It has a deep effect on ones life. Medication may or may not be an answer. It is hard to judge anything from a few lines someone said, but it sounds like something is going on in your brother's life that needs attention. The loss of one's dream can be heartbreaking, but to completely withdraw is something I have not heard in ADHD patients. So it sounds like he should see a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist to see what is going on.

    August 13, 2010 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Blake

    My son was diagnosed with ADHD. He was a good student, but now that he is on concerta, he is much better (3.8 last year). It helps him in every area of his life and allows him to focus on what he is doing (soon to be a Life Scout and he won his league wrestling tournament last year.) We tried the Feingold diet (eliminate artificial colors and flavors) and it help, but not as much as the concerta. As I have seen my son excel with the aid of his meds, I don't want to go back and see him struggle to be average.

    August 13, 2010 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Step Father and Father

    It's the hardest job you will every have, being a parent. To all the parents of children who have gone through the upbringing of an ADHD child, it's truly an agonizing experience. You hurt so much for the child. He's misunderstood, he has few friends, you try different diets, you try everything everybody (who has been through this) has tried. Then one day you make the deicision, and you must do this (in our case), to medicate. Instantly your child gets a life that is not constant chaos. It wasn't easy, but without meds my stepson would have been kicked out of elementary school – that was the bottom line. The teachers and principal and counselor had enough, way too disruptive and was not allowing the teaching process to happen for the other kids. Anybody who says it's not real, I'll tell you what, try to parent a child with the ADHD. It's the toughest job you will ever have. He's 18 now, and seems to have grown out of it a bit. The information I've read says that is possible. Still struggles, but he such a smart and caring kid, he'll be fine. It almost tore our family apart, especially the outside influence of his bio-Dad, who just made matters worse. I rarely comment on anything on the internet, but I lived through this difficult time, and I know the anguish parents feel. Good luck to anybody that has to deal with this condition. Read, read, and read about it. Hey, we chose to have kids, there ain't a return policy. Look for what that special kid can teach you, about yourself.

    August 13, 2010 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply

    In the 1970s, there wasn't ADHD. But DDT was also thought to be safe and LSD was legal. That's why we have SCIENCE.

    I was apparently diagnosed with ADD when I was a kid, but my mom never told me. I never took any pills, suffered in academics, and had a pretty miserable time wondering why everyone else could memorize things so easily and I never could. By highschool I finally learned how to cope, and was able to "straighten out" my learning habits, and now I do fine. I don't know if I've grown out of it, or I've just learned to adapt, but childhood ADD is pretty hard. Would I have preferred being medicated? I don't know. I think medication should be reserved for the severely affected, and in limited dosages. Just because a kid is excited about everything EXCEPT school doesn't mean they should be medicated.

    August 13, 2010 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sean D

    I read somewhere that 10% of kids have ADD. If it really is that prevalent and it isn't caused by modern environmental factors then I can't help but wonder if it hasn't served some evolutionary purpose. Perhaps the other 90% shouldn't be labelling it as as "disorder" and rather accept that people come in all shapes and sizes with different strengths and weaknesses.

    August 13, 2010 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. cel

    We all struggle under some form of burden, handicap or diasability. There is no such thing as normal. It's a statistical myth.
    Thankfully, there are treatments that work better than a good smack on the butt. We push our kids too hard, toofast and too much. It's a greed driven society, which accounts for the pahrmaceutical companies ability to meet the need with chemicals.
    That we just began to recognize these illnesses in the last 60 years is a testament tour own ignorance. That someone would attempt to state that these illnesses are somehow not real or are contrived, speaks to our intolerant, selfish greed.

    August 13, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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