NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Attention Deficit Disorder is Real, Says Writer

February 4, 2003

Many conservatives have criticized the growing tendency to pathologize every undesirable behavior -- especially where children are concerned. But when it comes to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), this skepticism is misplaced, says author Michael Fumento.

Fumento says that often the best diagnostic test for an ailment is how it responds to treatment. Consider the following:

  • The beneficial effects of administering stimulants, such as Ritalin, to treat ADD were first reported in 1937.
  • Today, medication for the disorder is reported to be 75 to 90 percent successful.

"In our trials it was close to ninety percent," says Dr. Judith Rapoport, who has published about 100 papers on the disorders. "This means there was a significant difference in the children's ability to function in the classroom or at home."

Treatment combining both medication and behavioral interventions were the subjects of randomized, controlled studies in both the United States and Sweden. For those trying to go on without medicine, "the behavioral interventions maintained nothing," Dr. Russell Barkley, a professor of psychology says. Rapoport concurs: "Unfortunately, behavior modification doesn't seem to help with ADHD."

Source: Michael Fumento, "A Liberal "Hoax" Turns Out To Be True. Trick Question," New Republic, February 3, 2003.


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