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Pitfalls and Rewards of ADHD Diagnoses

May 22, 2000

"How Do You Know If It's Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?" (May 8) starts off: "Guidelines are designed to help physicians distinguish the problem from other kid-related difficulties, such as misbehaving." Referring to ADHD as a problem implies that it is something abnormal, a disease, and that it is diagnosable.

The story continues: "Primary-care doctors have a brand-new set of tools to help them screen school-age youngsters." What tools? Screen for what? There is no physical or chemical abnormality in ADHD. Without one, it isn't a disease; it isn't diagnosable; the children are normal!

Without an iota of proof that ADHD is a "disease" or that the children are other than normal, 6 million are being labeled, stigmatized and drugged.

Nor is the determination of whether a patient has a disease (or which disease) a matter of "guidelines." It is a matter of objective evidence of an abnormality. And the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. James M. Perrin, co-author of the guidelines, knows this very well.

Could it be that profit, not science and healing, is the motive here? After all, ADHD brings in tens of billions of dollars per year.

DR. FRED A. BAUGHMAN Jr.

El Cajon

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I feel your article was misleading. The suggestion that doctors now have "new tools" is simply false. The symptoms of attention deficiency disorder and attention deficiency with hyperactivity disorder have been known for a long time. The only thing new is that the American Academy of Pediatrics has formulated and published a recommendation.

PAUL W. HENNINGER

Lake Forest

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ADHD is a real, severe brain disorder. After years of trying everything, with consultations, therapies, medical tests, counseling, psychiatrists, neurologists, psychotherapists, evaluations of all kinds (which remain always ongoing), I sought and agreed to medication for my son. Thank God.

Due to other "obstacles" my boy experiences daily, this was a very difficult, but last-resort, decision, if you will, by wonderful, professional, educated people. I have my son. Until he finally received medication, well, you can't imagine. It's been rough.

Thank you for this well-informed, true article.

JEANNIE CROMIE

Ojai

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