Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

ADHD is a fad again?! Shame and Guilt are back!

ADD ADHD Fad or Fruad or Myth

Seems things are going to get worse before they get better.

I just read another article about ‘the myth of ADHD’ by someone who raised my eyebrows. Mr. Herr, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies, Leadership and Counseling at Murray State University, wrote a recent article titled – ADHD: Has this diagnostic fad run its course?

According to Mr. Herr, ADHD is a diagnostic fad! His article perfectly underscores my recent blog post about how a report in the media can be skewed by the headline (in this case the entire article). I am not going into detail about how accurate a report authored by an assistant professor of economics about ADHD children and misdiagnosis of ADHD at an early age might be (Youngest in class get ADHD label – another headline to go with my previous collection). However, people are paying attention to it and when someone who is an assistant professor in the department of educational studies for a university openly writes that ADHD is a fad of its time, well, there you go. Would you want to be a student with ADHD at his school? Just asking…

I read Mr. Herr’s article this morning and started to feel the shame and guilt of living with ADHD all over again. His article has far more power than he might think and I am not sure if he realizes how many people he may be putting in jeopardy and confusion.

Mr. Herr writes:

“Probably one of the best ways to make sense of children and the rise of ADHD is for adults to focus on some basic questions. Don’t most adults become distracted when they are tired? Don’t most adults become fidgety when they are bored? Don’t most adults lose interest in their work when they don’t see any significance in what they are doing? And when adults wrestle with concerns relating to stress, sleeplessness, frustration, and depression, aren’t the responses often “get some rest,” “exercise” “start eating better,” and “try finding something you’re interested in”?” Quoted from Mr. Herr’s article in The Christian Science Monitor

First, how do you make sense of children by comparing them to adults? Anyway, let’s skip that obvious question. Yes, to all of the assertions above. All of them are true, but those are not the things which in of themselves can be determined as ADHD. They are determined to be ADHD when they cause life problems, are constant and have been present since early childhood.  As an example, if Mr. Herr would read my book “One Boy’s Struggle: A Memoir –Surviving life with Undiagnosed ADD” – he would discover that I would daydream daily through my entire day at school, not just when I was tired, or when I was bored or fidgety or stressed or whatever guess, other than ADD. Daydreaming was a constant daily struggle. Not paying attention to the teacher, or being able to read books, or assignments and understand them in time for a quiz was a constant struggle. Actually, assertions similiar to Mr. Herr’s may have been part of the reason I was punished and chastised so much for my behavior.

My mother cooked everyday an excellent, healthy meal for the family. I typically slept at least 9 hours a night. I wasn’t tired from lack of sleep. However, I was bored that is true, bored to the bone and very few things could keep my attention and when I did find something that kept my attention it was usually not for very long. Also, if Mr. Herr would read my book he will find that I often switched things I became interested in. Therefore, to assert that we can just switch someone to their interest isn’t always all that helpful, because if they have ADHD they are highly likely to change their interest out of their control quite quickly and without notice. It’s frustrating and depressing. 

Perhaps it was just depression in my case? Again, if he reads my book he will find that my behavior and the punishment I received because of it by educators, my father and many others was the main culprit for my depression and later PTSD, but my typical ADD behavior came first. Not that I deserved punishment because my ADD came first, but rather it was misunderstood and therefore I needed understanding and a proper professional evaluation of my behavior.

When you have enough people getting on you because you’re doing things out of your control, but in their opinon “on purpose” – let me tell you, it gets to you after a while. I started to believe I was doing it ‘on purpose’ too and punished myself for it because nothing else worked (read my book Mr. Herr). Punishing myself along with other people’s punishment didn’t help for very long, it made things worse. Punishment led to far, far worse. You know what did help? You guessed it, proper professional treatment for Depression, PTSD and ADD! Not any one’s opinion that my condition doesn’t exist or that it is a fad. Mr. Herr’s article really just shows the mentality of a large portion of society which just can’t accept that certain behaviors are out of one’s control. It’s a bully-ish attitude and often keeps people from seeking the help they need, because the stigma and shame can be so overwhelming.

Sorry, if I seem a bit upset here by these assertions, but I would be very careful making broad assumptions about anyone’s condition as not truly existing unless you are indeed their doctor, are treating them and have a very familiar understanding of their issues. However, if you have a predetermined view of conditions like ADHD as just fads, you would not be my doctor.

With all this said, I can understand where Mr. Herr is coming from, as I mentioned it is an all too common belief in our society and, unfortunately, it is these types of beliefs those of us with ADHD and our families must live with daily. Mr. Herr’s article may help reinforced the stigma of ADHD and what’s more he is an educator. Let’s hope the ‘left hander’s’ are not the next target of such an article (is there a blood test for truly being left handed?). I guess such beliefs are part of the reason behind laws to protect those with disabilities, which does include mental disabilities such as ADD / ADHD by the way. It’s also important to note that ADHD is a part of the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV TR) – it is my opinion that “Fads” are not included in this manual published by the American Psychiatric Association, used by clinicians and psychiatrists to diagnose psychiatric illnesses. *

– If you would like to read an article that at the least accepts ADHD as a condition, but thinks TV is partly to blame: Let’s blame ADHD on too much TV – at least this author is looking for a legitimate reason! The problem with his theory is someone like me. When I was growing up we were allowed only very limited TV viewing and I certainly didn’t have a TV in my room as a young kid. Therefore, this theory doesn’t work for why I have Attention Defecit Disorder.

*This article has been about my concern for Mr. Herr’s opinion about ADHD being a fad in the article he wrote here. My concern is for how damaging such an open opinion article by an educator can be to those of us living with the mental disability ADHD, and our families – not to mention students struggling with this disorder. Mr. Herr has the right to his opinion and to write about it. I have the right to discuss his openly written opinion and share mine about it.

What’s your opinion?