Now Dr Saul wades in with ADHD doesn’t exist

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Doctors are getting themselves in a right twist. In response to the previous post on the New York Times piece, Behavioural Neurologist Dr Richard Saul in Chicago has waded in, puffing his provocatively titled book called “ADHD does not Exist” (ironically reviewed by Belinda Luscombe on the same site as one of the Top Ten ADHD books here ). Dr Saul’s stance argued on the Time Magazine’s website here has a particular beef with the new diagnostic manual for mental health (DSM V), which awards ADHD to anyone displaying a minimum of five out of 18 possible symptoms.

His views will no doubt curry favour with Daily Mail readers, who do see this massive upsurge in ADHD diagnosis and medication as a problem, and also with those who feel that taking medication for ADHD is in some way “cheating” in life – whether offering extra focus at school or in the workplace (something that is shown to be not the case in the more level-headed recent Time Magazine piece by Denise Foley in another piece . Foley points out that even with meds, the attention of an ADHD child is still below the par of a “normal” child in school).

Without blamming the reader with any more Time Mag pieces to read, what Dr Saul does not to address in his piece, or apparently when persuading adults in his consulting rooms that they don’t have it, is How Long the symptoms have persisted. Instead, he is suggesting to stay off the tea and coffee in the afternoon, get 8 hour’s sleep, eat a better diet and exercise, stay off the booze, etc etc. ADHD is all about chronic symptoms, not poor attention brought on by the purchase of a new ipad and PS3.

As any adult ADHDer or parent of a child with ADHD will tell you, ADHD’s symptoms of restlessness, impulsivity and distractibility have been with the ADHDer all through their life. They can’t be switched on or switched off, haven’t appeared in the past six months, they have always been there – probably in that person’s nickname from kindergarten.

And that is really what his problem with ADHD seems to boil down to – the name, and ADHD is a bit of a misnomer. But overall, I’m with Dr Russell Barkley in the Denise Foley piece, whose lifelong dedication to the condition was prompted by his own ADHD twin brother dying in a one-man car crash (with alcohol involved). Barkley says if someone believes ADHD doesn’t exist – they should spend a day with an ADHD child on a car trip.

Good luck with that one.

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