What Every Parent Needs To Know About A.D.D.
Fred A. Baughman, Jr., M.D.
In a recent column, Ann Landers said "Parents need new skills to deal with children with A.D.D." What "skills," Ann?
A.D.D. (also known as Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity has become the most common childhood "disease" of childhood and is spreading like wildfire. Just as in the pre-Salk vaccine era of polio, there is reason to fear for the children. Affecting 6-33% in grade school, A.D.D. strikes adolescents too, persists into adult life, causes school failure, dropping out, aggression, violence, criminality, substance abuse; needs treatment with addictive medication "uppers," and is a certifiable disability. Characterized by inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, it is a "brain disease" due to a "chemical imbalance of the brain" diagnosed by a teacher checking "any 8 of 14 behaviors" on a pencil-and-paper, behavior checklist, needing no physician, laboratory, x-ray or brain scan confirmation--because there is no confirmation! Skepticism and science are what parents need to deal with A.D.D., not skill.
In numbers unmatched in any part of the world, U.S. school children are diagnosed and drugged in a quid pro quo association between education and for-profit psychiatry and psychology. Labeled "brain-diseased", the schools have an excuse for the rampant illiteracy and unpreparedness, cause enough for the mounting unhappiness and failure of the children, while psychiatry/psychology gains lifetime patients.
Parents, wake up! Do you really believe that your child, seemingly normal until eight (the average age of diagnosis) has a "brain disease" due to a "chemical imbalance of the brain," diagnosed by a teacher? I don't think so.
As a child neurologist for 35 years, I have authored original descriptions of real diseases characterized by objective abnormalities. Witnessing the burgeoning numbers of school children said to have A.D.D. and made to take brain-altering drugs, I have found, I can validate none of it.
In three years of trying, I have been unable to extract from Ciba-Geigy, manufacturers of Ritalin, references to any articles proving that A.D.D. is a real disease. On September 23, 1993 I testified at the National Institutes of Health that A.D.D. conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder - the so-called disruptive behavior disorder (DBD's) - are not proven diseases--organic or biologic--and therefore, that it would be unethical and fatally flawed, scientifically, to proceed with research into biological intervention, such as drugs.
On November 17, 1994, I wrote David Kessler, MD, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA and asked how they could allow CibaGeigy to portray A.D.D. in the Ritalin "insert" as a "syndrome," a term meaning the same as "disease." The FDA response: "We acknowledge...that as yet no distinct pathophysiology for disorder has been delineated" affirmed my conclusion--that A.D.D. is not a proven disease.
To the extent that they allow Ciba-Geigy to perpetuate the illusion of a disease, calling it a real "disease", necessary, of course, to sell Ritalin, the FDA is in collusion with the manufacturer who they are supposed to monitor and regulate.
To understand how A.D.D., not a disease at all, became the most common "disease" of childhood: Why its numbers double every 4 to 7 years and why the U.S. Food and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) quota for Ritalin has risen from 1700 kilograms in 1990 to 8000 kilograms in 1995, one has to understand the power of advertising, the ties of psychiatry to the drug industry: "provider-induced need", what Brumback calls the "Chinese cookbook" approach to diagnosing, whereby Psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), with 292 diagnoses as of 1992, was considering 94 new ones, and the dire straits in which psychiatry finds itself, being forced more rapidly to down-size and reconfigure along the lines of rapidly advancing "managed care" (HMO's).
If your child is not reading at grade level, is frustrated, increasingly unhappy, inattentive or even disruptive, there is no "diagnosis" or "pill". To eradicate these "diseases", we must get the medical/ psychiatric/ psychologic model out of the classroom and commit, once again, to the proposition that the children can and must read at an age/grade-appropriate level and that they are educable and must be educated. Parents, if an A.D.D. diagnosis is applied to your child, assert that it is not a "disease": that representing it as such is false, a breach of "informed consent" and "malpractice".
- Fred A. Baughman, Jr., M.D.