ADHD doesn’t exist – allegedly

This afternoon Paul sent me a link to an article on the Daily Mail website – and yes, I am well aware of its nickname.

The article reports that a Chicago based Neurologist, Dr Richard Saul, has claimed that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD doesn’t exist. That it is simply masking less serious problems and causing needless addiction to drugs.

The article goes on to claim that ADHD shouldn’t even be listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) and that is simply a collection of symptoms and not a disease.

Promoting his new book ‘‘ADHD does not exist: The truth about Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder’, Dr Saul says that ADHD is just an excuse.

The article goes on to explain research and give some more facts and figures about ADHD and it’s diagnoses rates in the UK. I am not going to put them here, but feel free to read the article yourself {here}.

As a parent of a child with ADHD, articles like this frustrate me. It’s not the article itself, there will be doubters, there always have been and there always will – and I do agree with one point made in the article that the diagnosis of ADHD is too broad. I agree – and yes, parents are too quick to jump in and declare their child has ADHD, and Doctors are too quick to agree.

As with everything there are mild, moderate and severe forms of ADHD. Obviously, the severe cases are easy to recognise and it tends to be the mild cases that are misdiagnosed.

What hurts me the most is people’s ignorance. Some of the comments on that article are unnecessary. People were stating that it’s just naughty behaviour, bad parenting, lazy parenting. One even claimed that it’s easier for a parent to give their child drugs than to nurture them.

I have mentioned ADHD and the effects it has on our lives so many times on this blog. Our eldest son was diagnosed with ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) at 4.5years old. He was put on medication a year later, and has now been medicated almost every single day for the past 3 years. Without him being medicated, our family would have split up years ago. The children would have split up years ago – because he is just too much for one adult to handle when not medicated.

So, the whole “naughty behaviour” issue – yes, that can be true. ADHD kids are more naughtier than normal. They also have no awareness of danger. Most of the time Jake is actually unaware of what he is doing. He is prone to tantrums. An ADHD child, mentally, is around 30% below their actual age. Therefore, even though Jake is 8, when not medicated (because that balances him out) he is approximately 5.5 years old. Therefore, we have to adjust our parenting accordingly. There are so many more complex issues that go with ADHD. The fact that they have no time awareness, that they have no minds voice – the inner voice we often hear that tells us not to do something because it’s wrong or dangerous etc. Yes, their behaviour can come off as being naughty, they can do things that you wouldn’t expect a child of that age to be doing – but it’s all because they cannot read society. They do not have emotions like ‘normal’ people. They cannot read situations like ‘normal’ people. I really could go on all day about all the different things associated with ADHD – but I won’t. I will however say this, and I have said it before so many time – just because you cannot see a disability, does not mean that it is not real. I recommend that if you are disputing ADHD or would like to know more, then to google Dr Russell Barkley – he has a 3hr YouTube video which explains ADHD very well (he also has some factsheets on his website).

Now, the whole parenting comments irritate me. How can it be lazy parenting? How can it be parents who just can’t be bothered to nurture or spend time with their kids.  Let me tell YOU! If my parenting was so bad then why are my other kids ok? They all get parented EXACTLY THE SAME! I do not let Jake’s ADHD become an excuse! Things may have to be repeated, he may have to be told more often, he may need a bit more encouragement and cajoling than the others – but he does not get away with stuff! He will be reprimanded and disciplined in exactly the same way.

The job of a parent is to train their children up to be respectful, good, hard-working, kind, loving people. My job of being a parent to a child with ADHD is that and more. The hyperactivity will calm down as he reaches adolescence, but everything else will remain. We need to train Jake to deal with his disability. We need to nurture him just the same, if not more than our other children, because he will have it harder in life. He will face prejudice. We need to teach him to time manage by using various techniques and methods. We need to teach him to be sociable, to read social situations, to know when it’s ok to talk, and when it’s not. We need to do this over and over and over again – because his short-term memory is also not there. We need to continuously teach him, guide him and nurture him to be the person that society expects him to be.

So do not tell me that I do not nurture my child. Do not tell me that I do not parent my child and do not tell me that it is him just being naughty.

Tell me what a good job I am doing – with no outside help because friends and relatives don’t really want to spend time with your family because of your child. Tell me how far my son has come and how well he is doing – because he is such a smart kid, especially when you talk to him about his favourite topics.

And please do not tell me that ADHD is not real. It is real for him. It is real for us.



  1. January 8, 2014 / 9:44 pm

    This claim started with the “inventor” of ADHD “admitted on his death bed” that he made the syndrome up. However, we only have that information via hearsay and who is to know what is true.

    What *I* know to be true is that my son (my 3rd born – so I wasn’t a neurotic new mum) did display the traits and symptoms of ADHD and has been diagnosed with ADHD (mild).

    I’ve written plenty about this myself – I don’t really want to go off on a rant on your blog 🙂 Great post though. You’re doing brilliantly. Don’t let anyone tell you any different!

    • January 8, 2014 / 10:12 pm

      I have read some of your posts Nickie – and I did not know that the “inventor” claimed it was fake. Have you ever heard of Dr Russell Barkley? In a YouTube video of a conference he did about ADHD, he states that there is a medical journal of some sort dating back to the 1800’s describing ADHD as a ‘condition of the mind’ and lists its symptoms!

  2. January 8, 2014 / 9:47 pm

    I’m not going to click through to the DM – won’t give them my traffic as that is how they make their money. But I get so tired of this type of article. Undoubtedly there are some misdiagnosis. But there are probably other children without the diagnosis who could do with it. And it’s far too easy for people to point a finger at parents, I know that, I’ve been on the receiving end time and again, and it’s just so exhausting. I feel for you.

    • January 8, 2014 / 10:14 pm

      I put the link there purely incase anyone wanted to read the article – those who know the DM won’t click it :). I agree with you. I know people who have had a diagnosis when they shouldn’t have.It is exhausting having the finger pointed at you all the time isn’t it. At least we know that we are doing all we can xxx

  3. January 8, 2014 / 10:43 pm

    Thank you for this useful post. I too have heard of the ‘invention’ of ADHD being admitted but it could all be rumour. As an experienced parent you know exactly what you are dealing with. Thank you for educating and supporting others. x

  4. January 8, 2014 / 11:46 pm

    that paragraph about parenting and the other kids being ok is something we battled with for years because of the schools ignorance! We even had the headteacher sit in a meeting about my son and say to the doctor who diagnosed him “are you sure he’s not just being naughty?”. I just couldn’t beleive the ignorance out there. With J it is ASD not ADHD but the ignorance and parenting battles have been very similar to what you describe. So frustrating in this day and age that more people just don’t understand. well done for speaking up about it! xxx

  5. January 19, 2014 / 7:22 pm

    Hear bloody hear!! I have an autistic son, so it’s a bit different, but the basic judgemental attitude from some people is the same. Honestly, I think these ignorant people genuinely think that it’s easy to get a diagnosis. They don’t realise that we have to harrass health visitors and then doctors to get a referral in the first place. And asking for medication? Not easy for the parent to do in the first place, and then yet more appointments and meetings to go to that might not even come to anything.
    It’s amazing to think how much more prevalent ASDs are and yet the awareness is so much less than much rarer conditions purely because it’s an invisible disability.

  6. January 31, 2014 / 2:37 am

    By the time, I had my son test and diagnosed, he was too old and thought he knew more than me and wont take the medicine. I am sure mine has more things and possibly bi-polar, now he is addicted to marijuana and we are not talking. I was in denial for too long and only hope and pray he decides to get help. Thanks for your info.

  7. Crystal Jigsaw
    March 13, 2014 / 8:18 pm

    I bet the majority of these ignorant idiots who reckon ADHD doesn’t exist don’t know anyone with the condition and would refuse point blank to have a child diagnosed with it as a friend for their own child. Perhaps they should spend a week with a child diagnosed with ADHD and then make their mind up whether it’s real or not.

    These types of articles aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. They are misguided rubbish written to create controversy and attract attention.

    CJ x

    • March 14, 2014 / 9:14 am

      Completely agree with you CJ. It is just so frustrating that there are so many ignorant people out there blaming the parents! I would love to have them come live with us for a week! If I am such a bad parent, then why are my other 3 children ok? xx