Emory ADHD expert refutes Chicago doctor's take on disorder - CBS46 News

Emory ADHD expert refutes Chicago doctor's take on disorder

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A Chicago doctor has ignited a debate about whether or not attention deficit hyperactive disorder is a real thing. Doctor Richard Saul wrote an article in this week's Time magazine where he says ADHD "does not exist."

That has a lot of people on both sides of the issue talking about it. Some people say ADHD is overly diagnosed as a quick fix for parents who don't want to parent and for doctors and pharmaceutical companies to make money.

Others, particularly parents of kids who've been diagnosed with the disorder, say anyone who doubts it should spend time with their child to see how real it is.

Dr. Julie Pace is a child psychologist at Emory University. Pace specializes in assessing children with behavioral problems, including ADHD.

"The biggest thing I think for me is seeing these kids face to face and that they're suffering," Pace said. "I think to say completely that it doesn't exist, I think that's really going to hurt some kids," she said.

Pace says this order has three sub-types. The one most people think of is "hyperactive impulsive" type. "These are the kids that can't sit still, very impulsive, behavioral problems."

The second is inattentive type. "These are the kids that are thought of as absent-minded professors. They'd be daydreaming, they're disorganized, they have trouble completing tasks," Pace explained. And the third type is a combination of the first two.

Pace refutes what Chicago behavioral neurologist Richard Saul says in his Time magazine article this week. That ADHD as medically defined and as the public understands it these days, does not exist.

Saul writes ADHD has become a catchall diagnosis for behaviors and problems that could be something else altogether. And prescription medications aren't always necessary.

Pace actually agrees with those last points. "I will definitely say, not every behavioral problem out there is ADHD, for sure. I mean there's parents that do need strategies," she said. "I've actually assessed kids who came in for question of ADHD and it turned out to be depression or it turned out to be anxiety. And you don't want to medicate those kids. And in fact giving them a stimulant might make it worse."

Pace said it comes down to getting a thorough, complete and involved assessment to find what the real root cause of the child's problems are. "Because there's a lot of other disorders that have concentration problems, behavior problems, as well. I've assessed kids where there's other issues going on. But I think to say completely that it doesn't exist does a disservice to a lot of kids who are suffering very much from ADHD."

Read full magazine article here.

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