Dr. Bruce D. Perry is one of the world’s leading pediatric neuroscientists, and he’s making a claim that will rattle the pharmaceutical industry and parents. Perry recently stated publicly that Attention Deficit/Hyper-Activity Disorder isn’t a real disease and suggested that giving children psycho-stimulant medications to kids is dangerous. Perry told the Observer, “It is best thought of as a description. If you look at how you end up with that label, it is remarkable because any of us at any given time would fit at least a couple of those criteria.”
And if you look at the symptoms of ADHD, it really does seem like we could all identify a symptom or two in ourselves, right? From WebMD:
- Difficulty paying attention to details and a tendency to make mistakes at school or other activities, producing work that is often messy and careless.
- Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others.
- Inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities..
- Difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration.
- Disorganized work habits.
- Forgetfulness in daily activities.
- Failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores.
And the list goes on. Dr. Perry is a senior fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas. He’s authored several books on child psychology. His comments can be contrasted starkly against the rising diagnoses of ADHD in the U.S. and UK, as well as the rising number of children on prescription medication for the ‘disease.’ Dr. Perry believes that some of these medications are dangerous for a child’s mental development and overall health.
“If you give psychostimulants to animals when they are young, their rewards systems change. They require much more stimulation to get the same level of pleasure. So on a very concrete level, they need to eat more food to get the sensation of satiation. They need to do more high-risk things to get that little buzz from doing something.”
“It’s not a benign phenomenon,” says Dr. Perry.
“Taking a medication influences systems in a ways we don’t always understand. I tend to be pretty cautious about this stuff, particularly when the research shows you that other interventions are equally effective and, over time, more effective and have none of the adverse effects. For me, that’s a no-brainer.”
The doctor also suggests ways to help kids with the blanket symptoms of ADHD.
“You can teach the adults how to regulate themselves, how to have realistic expectations of the children, how to give them opportunities that are achievable and have success and coach them through the process of helping children who are struggling. There are a lot of therapeutic approaches. Some would use somato sensory therapies like yoga, some use motor activity like drumming.”
What do you think? Is ADHD a real disease or are parents simply trying to prescribe away childhood antics?