ADHD: Myth or Real Illness?

Few topics pertaining to children’s health arouses more controversy than Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – or ADHD.

Seven percent of Aussie kids have been diagnosed, with treatment usually involving medication and counselling, but according to Professor Robert Spillane ADHD is a complete myth.

Robert Spillane is Professor of Management and former Dean of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Sydney, where he teaches and writes on philosophy and psychology. He has written nine books, numerous journal articles and a play – “Entertaining Executives” – which was first performed in May, 2006 at the Mermaid Theatre in London.

From 2003-2005 he delivered the widely acclaimed series of lectures on philosophy and psychology at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In 2006 he was the recipient of the international Thomas S. Szasz Award for his professional contributions to the cause of human liberty.

Professor Spillane’s beliefs:

  • There is no way, scientific or medical, that a child can be tested for ADHD, there is therefore no way that it can be medically proven. The diagnosis is totally subjective – we can run X-rays for broken bones to provide a definitive and conclusive answer, we can check blood pressure to see if levels are high or low, insulin levels can be monitored to determine whether someone suffers from diabetes – but there is no medical test for ADHD, because it is a behavioural issue.
  • Seven percent of Australian kids have been diagnosed with ADHD, with NSW and the ACT leading the nation. Up to 80,000 children within Australia are being treated with drugs, and children as young as two years old are being diagnosed.
  • The definition of illness is very important in this case. ADHD cannot be deemed as illness or condition per se, because an illness/condition can be medically and biologically tested consistently, with same findings seen to occur in each subject. This does not happen with ADHD. There are no blood tests which can prove or disprove this – there are no finite measures.
  • If a child is acting in a way that displeases parents and teachers, society will label that child as “sick”. If kids annoy or irritate other people, they are in danger of being labelled ‘ill’. We are simply labelling children whose behaviour is unsavoury or unfavoured as sick, and this is unwarranted. So called “professionals” are focussing on behaviour that displeases parent, teachers etc., rather than that which is proven medical condition. Basically, the diagnosis is a comparison between extroverted kids, and quieter or less extroverted kids.
  • Since this is not a matter of illness, children should not be treated as such, or prescribed medications. Children aged six, seven and eight years old have died of stroke after using ADHD drugs – they are stimulant drugs which boost the heart and brain systems, and often their tiny bodies cannot handle the impact. Further, when amphetamines are given to two and three year olds, whose brains are tiny and still developing, nobody knows the consequences – science does not know the outcomes.
  • The theory that a chemical imbalance exists in children holds absolutely no merit, and this cannot be measured – there is absolutely no way that science can test or defect chemical balances or imbalances.
  • Overactive children are simply starved of stimulation. They get bored when their stimulation levels are too low, and therefore seek this stimulus via other means. The onus is on adults – parents, carers and teachers – to provide and facilitate a more stimulating learning environment.
  • A study by Gregory Fabiano of the University of Buffalo, published in the Clinical Psychology Review says, “We now know that ADHD is a lifelong condition.” But Professor Spillane says this is “rubbish, deeply misleading and flawed”.

From a medical perspective, to meet an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder diagnosis, six or more of the diagnostic symptoms established by professionals must have been present for at least six months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for the child’s developmental level.

‘Symptoms’ include fidgeting, excessive talking, running around at inappropriate times, frequently disrupting class, blurting out answers in class, taking action before thinking, making rash decisions, not paying attention, making careless mistakes, not listening, not finishing tasks, and not following directions.

Story taken from the Today show website, 9th April 2009


Dr. Hoopers comment:

This is truly a great article that simply backs up what we have been saying for a long time.

ADHD is an over-drugged, over-diagnosed and over-reacted ‘condition’ that ‘plagues’ many Australian families. However, before we start hopping into the Ritalin and running from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist searching for The Cure, your child’s negative and often destructive behaviour can often be dispelled without the help of others.

ADHD and ADD symptoms such as fidgeting, loud raucous behaviour, tiredness or even excessive energy can be put simply to what your child is eating. That’s right, you read correctly… What they put in their mouth can make them exhibit strange, and often unexpected behaviours.

Many children in Australia live on highly processed and chemical filled foods. Highly refined bread for breakfast, muesli bar or ‘fruit bar’ for morning tea, greasy chips or more bread for lunch.. the list goes on.

These foods fill your child with artificial chemicals that can easily affect your child’s energy, blood sugar levels and even behaviour. Do as nature intended and feed your children as many unprocessed foods as possible. Fresh vegetables and fruit, lean meats, dairy and minimal amounts of grain products are the ideal way to go.

As a father of five young children I recognise that it can often be hard to feed children what is good for them. Colourful lollies, chocolate, chips, fizzy drinks and McDonald’s are much more visually appealing that vegetables and lean meats, however enforcing a healthy diet will ensure the health of your children.

Start with breakfast. Breakfast at your house may consist of refined white bread as toast, with jam (full of sugar), butter (full of fat), margarine (who knows what) or vegemite (active yeast) on top, or a nice big bowl of cereal (often with up to 30% sugar). These options are quick, easy and taste good – but what are doing to your child?

Replace these with a good hearty breakfast of scrambled, poached or grilled eggs, with a side of grilled tomato. Another option is a big bowl of porridge or oats. With minimal sugar (try honey instead), lacking the refinement and chemical content of commercial cereal, oats will keep your child full long into the day. Being a ‘slow burn’ carbohydrate your child will also have better concentration for all their morning classes.

Another quick and easy option is a fruit filled protein shake. A favourite in my house; blend up some milk, water and IsoWhey Complete along with your fruit of choice for a quick and delicious smoothy. Your children won’t know that it is good for them, and the protein content will ensure that they stay full for longer. Take a look at our Blueberry smoothie recipe – nice and sweet, it will be considered more of a ‘treat’ than anything else.

Fish oils have proven time and time again to have a massive positive impact on the behavioural patterns of children diagnosed with ADHD. Beneficial fatty acids found in fish oils help to maintain optimal concentration, boost memory, cognitive function, eyesight and help support bones and joints. Every child should be taking a fatty acid supplement.

If your child is twitchy, fidgety or experiencing cramping in their muscles, you must use a magnesium supplement. Correct magnesium intake is pivotal to the health and function of muscles, cardiovascular system and energy production. Try Bioceuticals Ultra Muscleze for a powdered supplement, or Blackmores Professional P.P.M.P. if you have more success with a tablet.

For ‘growing pains’, I would suggest the use of a calcium/magnesium supplement. Growing pains are often just the symptoms of calcium or magnesium deficiency. Blackmores Professional C.P.M.P. is a great all-round supplement that will quickly act to relieve these symptoms.

If you child experiences the afternoon slump or ‘fuzziness’, don’t turn to sugary snacks or cereals for the answer. Ideally, your children should be eating healthy ‘snacks’ every couple of hours to maintain optimal metabolism and blood sugar levels. However, if your child still experiences symptoms of weakness, dizziness or fuzziness, try a supplement like Eagle Pharmaceuticals Gluco Support, or Bioceuticals GlucoFactors Forte. Taken daily, these supplements will help to stabilise their blood sugar.

Consider neuromuscular skeletal care for your children. Undetected problems in the spine can cause behavioural issues, learning difficulties and an inability to sit comfortably in class. Sometimes without obvious back or neck pains. Those specialising in the treatment of spinal complaints can help to clear any underlying problems by correcting the bodys’ most important organ – the nervous system. Ensure that your specialist is a professional registered and recognised in their field.

Last but definitely not least, I strongly recommend an IgG Food Sensitivity Test for any child that is exhibiting symptoms of ADHD, skin disorders, chronic illness, discomfort or digestive difficulties.

What you eat can negatively react in your body. A food sensitivity can be the underlying cause for many illnesses that are prevalent today. As discussed above, what you feed your children may actually be causing a negative effect, rather than a positive one.

An IgG Food Senstivity Test from Emed will provide you with facts – not just opinions. Our interpretative report will tell you what exactly your child should not eat, and will provide satisfying alternatives. Learn about how to avoid these foods, feed your family well and keep them all satisfied while taking care of your familys’ health.

This is probably the best investment you could possibly make for your family. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

If you are concerned about your child’s behaviour, ensure that you get the Emed IgG Food Sensitivity Test completed. Get the facts, not opinions about your child’s health today.