ADHD what is in a name?
ADHD Literary Review.
Please note: the content of this article may be a trigger.
ADHD IS IT A DISORDER THAT REQUIRES MEDICATION OR IS IT MERELY A SYMPTOM OF A CONTINUING ATTENTION DEFICIT FROM CAREGIVERS?
Table of Contents
What is ADHD?
What Led Me To This Discussion?
Real Life Example
Discussion/Analysis Of Data
How Can We Implement The Findings In Real Life?
With the constant barrage of titles and labels regarding supposed Mental Health issues being presented in younger and younger children, I have begun to feel uneasy in my work. I find myself now working with children as young as five who are medicated for a variety of ‘disorders’ and those who exhibit no signs of depression being medicated with anti-depressants from the age of seven. Within a few minutes of working with these children I begin to feel that there is something severely wrong with the way the medical system is looking at them. I feel that there is a deeper connection to our parenting styles towards our children’s behaviour than can be credited to supposed Mental Health issues alone. As I understand ADHD, it is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder, and not a mental health issue, yet in common discussions it is often discussed under the banner of mental health. I have been researching a variety of reputable sources and am beginning to notice that I am not the only one who is acknowledging that there is something amiss on this subject. Therefore I have chosen to do a literature review on the subject of ADHD.
What is ADHD?
According to the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) “ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder defined by impairing levels of inattention, disorganization, and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. Inattention and disorganization entail inability to stay on task, seeming not to listen, and losing materials, at levels that are inconsistent with age or developmental level. Hyperactivity-impulsivity entails overactivity, fidgeting, inability to stay seated, intruding into other people's activities, and inability to wait—symptoms that are excessive for age or developmental level. In childhood, ADHD frequently overlaps with disorders that are often considered to be "externalizing disorders," such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder.”
The diagnostic manual was first published in 1952 and has been through many revisions, DSM-5 is the most recent, however the APA have acknowledged that there will be further reviews in the future. This leads me to feel that the information is still not guaranteed to be accurate and may be out of date already.
What Led Me To This Discussion?
For the past two years I have been running a group called Circus Freaks. I originally founded the group to create a space where children can engage in effective pre-therapy, disguised as play. The intention behind the group and the motto is: “Helping kids to create sustainable self-regulation tools through the magic of circus play, dance and yoga”. Included in the program are many tools, which the children can and do fall in love with and take away with them to use again and again, many of them requiring nothing more than their own will to engage in these activities. The workshops were created, to begin with, for children with ASD, ADHD and behavioural issues, but over the years of running these workshops as well as the past 15 years interacting with a number of children I am beginning to see very specific patterns in theses children’s behaviours, especially those who have been labeled as ADHD. It has now come to the point where I will no longer acknowledge this label when it is included on a consent form. I began noticing a trend a few years back between the parenting styles of the attendees who were labeled ADHD as well as those without and it occurred to me that in fact, this is not a disorder or illness or mental health condition, but it is in fact completely explained within the label title: it is nothing more than a deficit of attention causing the child to then actively and often, unhealthily, seek attention from peers, mentors, teachers and parents, which are most often then further squashed.
Of course this is a very touchy subject and it is not something I have been able to discuss with many parents, however I did open this topic up with an academically minded friend of mine who has two children to a Papua New Guinean mother. We discussed the drastic changes in his children’s behavioural patterns when they moved away from the very socially stimulating village in PNG where the children were able to access the attention of a dozen or more adults in one day. The move to a small town in Queensland where they were only around their mother and then given a variety of technology to sedate them, including ipads, computer games and access to a television then saw a dramatic shift in their behaviour, to a point where they are now considered ADHD. They appear to be more physical, with less concentration, less agility and less concept of personal space and or their own strength since the move.
There is such a huge line drawn between those who defensively and actively stand to deny or promote ADHD; this is really highlighted in the following article out of all the research I have found, it is taken from a website which is all about ADHD called ADDitude; a website that is based around ‘real life’ articles from ‘real people’ presented in a way that lends itself to self-rightous authority. Here is the beginning of an article I found on there from 2006:
“Just about every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the U.S. long ago concluded that ADHD is real, and that children and adults with attention deficit disorder benefit from appropriate ADHD treatment. Yet, somehow, the world still seems to be filled with self-appointed ADHD “experts” — some well-meaning, some sanctimonious — who insist on burdening us with their ill-informed opinions and asking repeatedly, What is ADHD?”
This article was written by a lady whose bio reads: “Deborah Carpenter is a freelance writer, author, and educator specializing in women's and parenting topics. Her work has appeared in national publications such as Parenting, Publishers Weekly and Woman's Day. She is the author of The Everything Parent's Guide to Dealing with Bullies. She is also the mother of two, and the daughter of an ADHD mother.” Her article is aggressive, dismissive and has very little real research or referencing included. Her links to ‘sources’ include mostly links to other pages within the website. This is very damaging as, when you are looking for information it is easy to get swept up in the idea that because the website is dedicated to one subject that it must be reliable.
There are also articles on this website that state that ADHD is not caused by diet or exposure to electronic games, this particular article is not credited to a single author, just to the editors of the website and there is no way for anyone to check the credibility of the article.
“ADHD is not willful disobedience. It is not caused by too much sugar or too much Minecraft. And spanking is not a cure. Here, our readers share the 21 most ignorant comments about ADHD, and the facts they use to refute them.”
The article then goes on to use parent’s personal opinions labeled as ‘facts’ to dispute common discussions around ADHD and ultimately parenting.
On the other side of the spectrum I have been finding articles of this caliber on peer review sites and on well respected sites, this one came from Psychology Today and is written by a M.D.:
“While medication may have role to play in alleviation of symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity, the real solution lies in recognizing our basic human need for connection. We need to shift our attention from diagnosis and treatment of disorders in children to insuring that all children and their parents feel heard and connected to the larger social world.”
This peer-reviewed article discusses how medicated treatments for ADHD are often not effective in long-term improvement and discusses how mediation is now being seen as a realistic treatment:
“Among available non-pharmacological treatment options, mindfulness meditation training has received increasing clinical interest and empirical support.”
Discussion/Analysis Of Data
Through the research I have conducted it is easy to see that it is really is a controversial subject. There seems to be an inflated sense of defensiveness from the parental community, who appear to be the most common and strongest force in acknowledging that ADHD is in fact a real thing, but each time I read their arguments I am seeing only defence of their hardship, their ability to parent and the need for pacification of their children with ipads and medication. I have yet to find any parent or adult with ADHD who can provide legitimate scientific references on the reality of ADHD. However there are multiple articles from scholars who are openly discussing the delusion that is ADHD.
How Can We Implement The Findings In Real Life?
There appears to be a lot of fear coming from parents and carers in the community as well as ADHD advocates. The fear seems linked to issues such as them not being good enough as parents, or being unable to ‘control’ their children and this often leads to a blatant disregard for their child’s health as the adults sit deeply in this fear. If we look into the research on ADHD we can see that these patterns are coming not from ‘mental health’ issues or ‘developmental neurological disorders’ but are coming from the holes in the human continuum, which become repeated patterns passed down from generation to generation. I feel that the best we can do to begin implementing quality health care in this area is to allow parents to access an environment where they are able to a go into their fears and be supported and guided through them so that they may begin to nurture their children based purely on their child’s needs and true will as opposed to quashing their inherent behaviours due to a perceived social embarrassment. This can be done on many levels and there are multiple opportunities for us to break the cycle. Some examples include supporting parents through intentional parenting groups which, are predominantly focused on the health and wellbeing of the children and parents, we can nurture parents, teachers and carers in the use of non-violent communication, authoritative parenting/caring styles and enable them to integrate the acceptance of diverse learning and teaching styles that support the needs of the individual child.
In conclusion; I feel that the research shows that ADHD is not a neurodevelopmental disorder, but in fact is a reflection of our society as a whole. Along with many other issues which the medical community is dubbing ‘mental illness’, ‘disorders’, ‘diseases’ and so on, it is a diagnosis that can be eliminated either through early intervention with the children or through support to enable parents to develop their own personal belief systems and to grow and connect with their children. The irony here is, that I, myself, supposedly, have what is labeled as ‘inattentive type ADHD’, however through the program I have created as well as being able to access many other self-regulation tools including meditation, art, music and dance therapy and a connection with myself and nature and being supported in accessing my true will and needs as well as removing overstimulation through technology, such as the television, I have been able to eliminate the symptoms of ADHD and to actually find ways to thrive using the abilities that the ‘ADHD’ gives me.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Page 32. Retrieved from http://displus.sk/DSM/subory/dsm5.pdf
(Please note I was unable to locate the DOI as this particular book has an individual DOI for each Chapter)
American Psychiatric Association. (2017). DSM–5: Frequently Asked Questions.
Claudia M Gold M.D. (2016, August 23) Big Pharma and the Question: Is ADHD Real? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/child-in-mind/201608/big-pharma-and-the-question-is-adhd-real
Robert A. Berezin (2015, March 17) No, There Is no Such Thing as ADHD. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-theater-the-brain/201503/no-there-is-no-such-thing-adhd
Is ADHD Real? Retrieved from http://strategicpsychology.com.au/is-adhd-real/
Sophie Borland. (2014, March 30) Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2592641/Expert-claims-ADHD-not-real-disease-fits-two-criteria.html
KATE KELLY, PEGGY RAMUNDO, B.S., A.C.T., SCAC. (2012)
John T. Mitchell, Ph.D. Lidia Zylowska, M.D. and Scott H. Kollins, Ph.D.
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4403871/
Mindfulness Meditation Training for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adulthood: Current Empirical Support, Treatment Overview, and Future Directions
DEBORAH CARPENTER (2006) How to Silence ADHD Naysayers. Retrieved from https://www.additudemag.com/silence-naysayers-adhd-myths-facts/
ADDitude Editors. 21 Ignorant Comments About ADHD (and the Facts to Refute Them) Retrieved from https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/adhd-facts-refuting-ignorant-comments/?src=embed_link