According to one doctor, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder doesn't exist.
In his recent book, ADHD Does Not Exist, and essay for Time, Dr. Richard Saul, a behavioral neurologist practicing in the Chicago area, suggests that attention deficit disorders are over-diagnosed.
His analysis has sparked outrage on both sides of the debate.
"Over the course of my career, I have found more than 20 conditions that can lead to symptoms of ADHD, each of which requires its own approach to treatment," Saul wrote.
More than 20 parents reached out to KCTV5 News wanting to share their stories about ADHD. One of those families explained why they can't agree with Saul's analysis.
It took awhile for the Dubbert family to put the right pieces together, to find the right diagnoses for their two sons.
Evan, 12, was first diagnosed with ADHD until he showed signs of Tourette syndrome and other disorders.
"Anxiety and OCD are more his issues, we changed medications and it's just been a phenomenal turn-around," said Evan's mother, Lisa Dubbert.
So Evan's case backs up Saul's new claims that ADHD symptoms can fit into other existing disorders.
But then there is Alec.
"It's just hard for me to concentrate on what I'm doing and I'm thinking about a lot of other stuff," said Evan's 8-year-old brother, Alec.
Alec's problems fit more clearly into a classic ADHD diagnosis. And for him, stimulant medications, like Ritalin, made all the difference.
"It's heartbreaking to see him come home every night, he was crying through homework and really, really struggling,"Lisa Dubbert said.
No one will convince Lisa Dubbert that ADHD doesn't exist.
"I hear the, 'Oh, they just need to be spanked. They just need to be told no.' In my experience, that is not the fix. That is not the cure," she said.
Experts at Children's Mercy Hospital agree.
"Whereas before we just had really big groups of bad kids and not bad kids," said Dr. Trista Perez Crawford, a clinical child psychologist at Children's Mercy Hospital. "Now we're able to say, no this is what's going on and because we're better able to assess and diagnose, we're better able to treat."
Crawford says that is why more children are diagnosed with ADHD now. But she says treatment has to go beyond medication, using behavioral therapy to keep doses as low as possible.
"Families who commit to the behavior therapy, are able to cut back the doses of medication. And over time there are kids who don't even need it anymore," Crawford said.
Until families can strike that balance, both Crawford and Lisa Dubbert agree judgment from the outside doesn't solve anything.
"You're a lazy parent who's just taking the easy way out and drugging your child into submission, and that's not the case," Lisa Dubbert said.
Saul points out stimulant medications can be highly addictive and can cause problems like loss of appetite and trouble sleeping.
Experts at Children's Mercy Hospital say rule out other disorders first and find a doctor you trust to track your child's progress.
Click here to read Saul's full article.
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