One of the key elements of the ADHD diagnosis—or any diagnosis, for that matter—is determining the cause of whatever ADHD-like symptoms exist. Most clinicians (at least in my experience) simply look at a few rating scales and do a quick history. When they perceive that Junior has struggled with ADHD-like symptoms since childhood and that these symptoms have been distressing to either the child or the child’s parents or teachers, the clinician then determines a diagnosis of ADHD.
This is pathetic.
Any clown can read rating scales and comprehend that a child struggles to pay attention or concentration, is disorganized, or lacks self-control. This shouldn’t require an MD or Ph.D. What requires critical thinking, patience, and a deep understanding of child development is recognizing that there are several possible causes or reasons for the child’s behavior patterns.
The more I work with children and their families, the more I am convinced that parents can absolutely prevent and “cure” the vast majority of ADHD cases. Yes, parents have that much power.
As soon as I discuss parents’ role in creating an ADHD child, out come the complaint that “You’re saying that ADHD is caused by bad parents!” Pro-ADHD organizations like CHADD outright mock the idea that parents have any causal relationship to ADHD symptoms (which is highly suspect). Rather, the psychiatric community believes that ADHD symptoms are caused primarily by an insufficient brain—presumably caused by unfortunate genetics.
But this is not only patently false, but demonstrably so. I have had scores of children in my office who were diagnosed with ADHD by licensed psychiatrists—often with really impressive credentials—whose ADHD symptoms vanished when the parents properly trained their children. How is this possible if the child’s brain is broken (unless, of course, my treatments are so potent that they “fix” the child’s damaged brain; if so, call the folks on the Nobel committee).
So are the parents of ADHD children bad parents? No way! They are simply imperfect parents who have failed to provide their child the adequate and unique training that they needed. Most of the parents I work with whose child has been diagnosed ADHD are wonderful, loving, supportive, protective, and engaged parents. They simply weren’t equipped to deal with a child with unique needs.
Are there other causes of ADHD-like symptoms? I’m convinced there are. There is good reason to believe that insults to the brain in utero or during the early brain development can have significant negative effects on executive functions. But the vast majority of children whose behavior mimics the “ADHD Poster Child” have the same cause: parents.
Remember the good news here: if the failure of parents can cause the problem, then when those parents understand their role and are equipped to properly train their child, they can fix the problem, once and for all! A cure for ADHD!!