Re: The Myth of the ADD Child

Teresa Gallagher (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 21:53:33 -0500

Alan: I agree with you on attention deficit disorder. I've found that
the biggest reason kids get medicated is that the parents have teachers
hounding them on one side and medical people on the other side telling
them with great authority and insistance that ADD is a brain defect for
which medication is required. The parents often feel uneasy but don't
see any other choice. And, of course, the Ritalin does make life easier
for them.

I've read a lot about it over the last few years because my son was born
incredibly active, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.
During my reading I discovered that I also very much fit the description
of ADD. In fact, I have always been very aware of a difference I have
which I had always referred to as "it." Or sometimes "crossed wires."
Out of curiosity, I went to Yale and, after four hours of testing, was
pronounced "clearly ADHD" (ADD with hyperactivity). Very interesting,
since I got straight A's in grad school and have a career in the
sciences (grad school is interesting, right?). Clearly, it's not as
hopeless as they say it is.

I think back on my school days (k- undergraduate studies) and I really,
really hated school. I wish I could have gone to a Sudbury type school.
I'm sure I would have done well, because I like to teach myself things,
I just didn't like classrooms and have trouble taking in information "by
ear." (Many ADDers have verbal difficulties/dyslexia). I was the student
who failed math while winning awards in music and art.

There is a sort of underground shift going on with how ADD is viewed.
The old school says it is a brain defect which requires meds. This is
made up primarily of psychiatrists, psychologists and especially drug
companies. There is an opposing camp, composed of researchers, parents,
and a few authors, who believe ADD is an alternative mode of thinking,
latteral thinking perhaps, or creative thinking. I say underground
because the press hasn't caught onto it yet.

My Born to Explore site represents the latter view. It's at if anyone is interested in the


KleinCon wrote:
> In a message dated 98-03-25 16:56:12 EST, you write:
> << I've been thinking of ordering the book, "The Myth of the ADD Child" from
> Holt
> Associates (The Growing Without Schooling people). As a staff member at LVS
> I
> get a lot of questions from parents with children diagnosed with ADD, and I
> was wondering if this was a worthwhile read. Has anyone out there read this
> book, and if so, what did you think? >>
> Melissa,
> I haven't read the entire book, but I have heard of it, read reviews of it,
> and have heard the author interviewed. I agreed with what I read and heard so
> I tentatively give the book a "Third-hand Thumb Up".
> My bias is that ADD, ADHD, etc. are, except in the most extreme cases,
> school/parenting derived "ailments". They basically strive to make the case
> that, instead of creating an environment capable of accommodating the wide
> range of human behavior and emotions that kids exhibit, we should force the
> kid to mold to the environment (which is set up to reward quiet, subservient,
> regurgitive behavior.)
> I am reminded of a Smith Family cartoon of a while back. One of the Smith
> boys is talking to another boy. The other boy looks all bleary eyed and
> slack-jawed. The other boy says, "I run around all the time, can't sit still,
> yell a lot, and make a nuisance of myself. They call it 'hyperactivity' and
> make me take a pill."
> The Smith boy responds, "Oh, I do that too, only they call it 'being a kid'
> and make me take a powder!" (Although I am hesitant to explain a joke, I have
> heard from some folks that the expression "take a powder" isn't as widely
> known as I thought. For those who haven't come across it, it roughly means
> "get out and don't bother me".)
> I know that some parents struggle mightily to help their kids get a handle on
> their lives. Some describe the despair that the kids feel being out of
> control. There may be a (very) small minority of cases of truly pathological
> ADHD/ADD and I suppose that medication may be appropriate in those (very few)
> cases. My strong belief is that in the vast majority of cases, the kid is
> being medicated for the sake of convenience - the convenience of a rigid
> school system, a rigid home system, or both, which are unwilling to make
> necessary changes that would allow kids to be kids and to grow up in their own
> time and manner.
> Alan