The April 4 Opinion Exchange section featured two articles (“Overdiagnosing the human condition”) decrying the rise in diagnosis of and medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The writer of one of the articles, Ted Gup, lamented the use of medication to treat what he implied is a fictional condition, then segued into the notion that grief is unnecessarily diagnosed and medicated as depression. I agree about the grief issue, not about ADHD.

The writer of the second article, Charles Dean, blamed the increase in ADHD diagnoses and medication solely on market-driven Big Pharma. I will mention, but not delve into, studies that suggest the increase in ADHD (along with allergies, asthma and autism) may be caused by our immune systems being compromised by all the chemicals, additives, and pollutants in our air, water, ground and food. It is not uncommon for children with food allergies to also have learning disabilities with behavioral and/or emotional difficulties.

So, as the parent of a child diagnosed with ADHD and multiple food allergies, let me provide you with a dose of reality.

Medication for legitimate diagnoses of ADHD allows children to cope and function in both their home and school lives, not to get better grades. I belong to a support group of parents of ADHD children, and believe me, by resorting to medication, none of us are seeking an easy solution or a quick fix.

We have used talk therapy, discipline, consequences, rewards, threats and punishments, all to no avail. Without medication, there is no effect.

We are the stressed-out, exhausted parents who have implemented every common-sense strategy known to our society to get our children to do their chores, complete school assignments successfully and on time, and make social connections. These children are not merely exceptionally active and do not respond to being told to just try harder, to focus or to pay attention.

ADHD is a brain disorder. The onslaught of sensory input is overwhelming, stressful and exhausting. Caring, knowledgeable doctors who are experienced with this condition prescribe medication when all other avenues have been tried and proven not to work.

We are good parents. We do not use medication as a substitute for discipline and common sense. We use it in addition to all the other parenting tools.

As the saying goes, walk a mile in my shoes before you make a judgment.


Diane Linstead lives in Woodbury.