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Enter to win a copy of this remarkable new book; leave a comment on this post with your idea of the most-often repeated wrong-headed opinion about ADHD. I’ll pick an entry from random and send the winner a hard-back edition of the book!

Everyone has an opinion about the  “ADHD Explosion”—one term for  recent years’ steady increase in diagnosis rates and medication usage. Yet, most opinions spring from knee-jerk reaction—or an “alternative” product to peddle. Finally, two experts have produced a lucid, logical, and highly readable guide to understanding the myriad factors behind the headlines. Everyone who cares about ADHD awareness should read The ADHD Explosion—and keep your highlighted copy nearby for handy reference.

You have a chance to win a copy by leaving a comment at the end of this post; just tell us your idea of the most wrong-headed but oft-repeated opinion about ADHD. I will pick a comment at random and send the winner a hardcopy edition of the book.

The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance begins with a solid overview of the costs of unrecognized ADHD, to individuals and society. Next, it explores ADHD’s position “where biology meets culture.” Subsequent chapters emphasize the importance of accurate diagnosis and effective treatment (“Do it Right or Pay the Price”), examine the potential impact of educational policy in determining the variable state-to-state ADHD diagnosis rates, and hit other key highlights.

The co-authors, Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D. and Richard Scheffler, Ph.D., both professors at the University of California, Berkeley, are well-qualified both to substantiate the costs of ADHD and to dissect the confusion swirling around it. Hinshaw, a psychologist, is a renowned ADHD researcher and the author of several books on mental illness and stigma. Scheffler is a distinguished professor of health economics and public policy.

Read the rest of this entry »

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My husband is the real scientist in our house, a molecular biologist by training and profession. But he contends I have strong scientific instincts. I can’t always substantiate my hunches—my scientific education and vocabulary is relatively meager—but sometimes my hunches are eventually proven correct.

Sucpills-in-handh could be the case with iron supplements and ADHD. For years, I’ve worried about this trend of parents giving kids with ADHD iron supplements after learning that ADHD is associated with low iron. Some adults take the supplements, too, for Restless Legs Syndrome, but are their iron levels being well-monitored and other causes being considered?

What if the problem, I wondered, is sometimes not with iron insufficiency in the diet but with the brain failing to “recognize” and absorb iron? This is a question worth asking, because a surplus of iron in the body carries great risks. I had a suspicion that stimulant medication would help to correct this problem as well as other metabolic issues. Preliminary research indicates this might be true.

Thank goodness for the researchers who study arduously for years in order to be able to painstakingly tease out answers on such topics. Emerging research indicates that yes, stimulant medication might normalize iron absorption in the brain (excerpt from a Medscape article: Brain Iron Levels a Potential ADHD Biomarker):


Vitria Adisetiyo, Ph.D.

Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have reduced iron levels in the brain, which normalize with stimulant medication, the research suggests.

Investigators at the Medical University of South Carolina Center for Biomedical Imaging in Charleston found that medication-naive patients with ADHD had significantly lower brain iron levels compared with their counterparts who had been receiving psychostimulant medication.

The researchers also found that ADHD patients with a history of psychostimulant medication treatment had brain iron levels comparable with those of control individuals, suggesting that brain iron levels may increase to normal levels with psychostimulant treatment.

These findings have potential implications for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, lead researcher Vitria Adisetiyo, PhD, told Medscape Medical News.

From my personal correspondence with Dr. Adisetiyo, she adds this important dimension of the investigation: “We also measured peripheral blood iron measures in the ADHD patients and controls and found no significant differences. This is consistent with your hypothesis that the issue in ADHD may not be insufficiency of blood iron in the body but rather a problem with its absorption into the brain since abnormal brain iron levels were detected in the medication-naïve ADHD patients even when blood iron levels were normal.”

It is important to remember: This is preliminary research, and the article points out potential limitations with this study. But this is how science works: incrementally. Dr. Adisetiyo and colleagues are currently launching an attempt to replicate their findings, with eventual plans to conduct a larger longitudinal study examining brain iron levels before and after use of psychostimulant medication in children and adolescents with ADHD.

In the meantime, please be cautious with supplements that, in excess, can cause significant problems.

Have you experimented with iron supplements? Your comments welcome. No annoying codes to enter.

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Katy Rollins

This week’s guest post comes from my friend Katy Rollins, who writes one of my favorite blogs about living with Adult ADHD: 18Channels.

10 Ridiculous Things #ADHD Makes Me Do

By Katy Rollins

Just 10? I could probably list 100 but why blow them all on one post.

1) Follow my husband around the yard talking at him while he’s mowing the lawn, even though he can’t hear me, until he finally gives up, turns off the mower, and says “Yes?”

2) Decide to make dandelion wine. Then decide to make lilac wine. Then decide to make limoncello. Because three projects is BETTER than ONE!

3) Make a plan for the day – and then throw it out the window like the cheap imitation of a life that it is, if I get a better offer…or a distractingly good snack.

4) Sometimes avoid conversations because totally engaging in them can be totally a lot of work.

5) Keep throwing things in my big day bag because I need to “do” them, then experience confusion when the bag ends up weighing 35 lbs.

6) Headstands. Spontaneous headstands. On my couch.

7) Always lateness. Always working to thwart the always lateness.

8) Leave my purse sitting in random places. Like the middle of the sidewalk. Like around my body, but I forget it’s there. Like on tables in random public places.

9) Dream big. Regret it later.

10) Dream big again.


Check out 18Channels for essays and more from Katy, whose bio in part reads:
I’m a wife, stepmother of three, collector of animals (I AM NOT A HOARDER, we are at capacity at five!), an artstrepreneur, event planner, social media/marketing consultant and compulsive civic project instigator. I can often be seen around town with my ADHDog in tow.

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Thanks to Tom Nardone for allowing me to re-print this post, originally entitled They Don’t Believe I Am ADHD? Oh NO!! What Ever Will I do?

It originally appeared on Tom’s site, ADHD People. I’ve never met Tom but I’ve enjoyed his posts. Italians raised in the U.S. South share a certain kinship. Grazie, paisan!   —  Gina Pera

They Don’t Believe I Am ADHD? Oh NO!! What Ever Will I do?

Tom Nardone

By Tom Nardone

So many of my friends on the internet get angry when they hear people speak about ADHD as if it is a made-up, ridiculous, notion. It offends them to hear anyone say that their medication is unnecessary superfluous drugs usage. I found myself among them for a long time.

It really frosted me for anyone to tell me that my ADHD was just a bunch of bullshit. I would see a post or a comment and I wanted to go to battle stations; many times, I did. There has always been a split: between people who claim to be ADHD, and people who don’t believe in the existence of it. I no longer am angered by this.

This comes as no surprise to me as an ADHD person. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Those of us that are ADHD know all too well that there is a much bigger division among us. There are those of us, who believe in medication, and there those that say, “Absolutely not!” I have seen and I have been involved in heated debates and discussions regarding this. This used to upset me too. It doesn’t any more.

I don’t get mad about this anymore because the beliefs of others do not cause reality. The fact that someone does or doesn’t believe that there is such a thing as ADHD doesn’t make it real or a myth. The fact that someone does or doesn’t believe that there are such things as bipolar disorder, Leukemia, Aids or even a headache doesn’t change the facts. I am ok for people to believe in anything they want to. We live in a world full of people that believe all kinds of stupid shit. Whether they are right or wrong is not determined by the fact that they believe it. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Best ADHD Health Blogs of the Year


I’m happy to learn that my ADHD Roller Coaster blog has been named one of 12 top ADHD Health blogs by Healthtime.com. My sincere congratulations go out to my friends and fellow awardees

I’m honored to be in the company of these fine bloggers, who have contributed so much to the online discourse on ADHD for so many years. Well done, folks! Keep up the great work!


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If you missed Part I: The Truth Behind “10,000 Toddlers” Report.

The New York Times‘ Alan Schwarz continues to seek sensation in the “click-bait-osphere” by relying on media gadflies as sources (e.g. Allen Frances, Larry Diller, etc.). Meanwhile, legitimate experts continue to perform legitimate research, including that for establishing guidelines for treating ADHD in young children. (Click here for a review.)

These experts understand the complex nature of ADHD, and the nature of its suffering. You don’t hear about these experts as much because they are busy working, not prone to show-boating online on flashy websites or in op-ed pieces. They would find that embarrassing. I  share some important excerpts below.

By the way, only Huffpo (and Schwarz himself) would be arrogant enough to consider  Schwarz an ADHD expert in its “broadcast” following his latest egregious effort at reporting on ADHD (my policy is not providing links to “clickbait”). HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington is an infamous ADHD-denier (see previous post).

Shameless Marketers Fueling Anti-ADHD Fury

But when it comes to arrogance and ignorance, we cannot overlook this shocking post from Ned Hallowell, below, on his blog. It is truly breathtaking in its audacity. Especially because he repeated it on the airwaves later.

Dr. Hallowell: It’s Crazy to Give Toddlers ADHD Medication

People are looking for a quick solution for an age old problem of rambunctious children. We should play with them and take care of them instead. Long term effects are not understood. Controlled substance is not a trivial intervention.

Instead, human connection is the better solution – albeit labor intensive. Physicians that are well-trained do not give into the pressures of the parents.

Dr. Hallowell recommends abruptly stopping medications (no side effects) and instead spending time with them.

Really?  So, all it takes is a little parental attention and—poof!—ADHD is gone? So medications for ADHD are all about parents seeking a “quick solution”? Read the rest of this entry »

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A Facebook friend writes to me, below, after the latest “click bait” from The New York Times’ Alan Schwarz ran on Sunday. The story is called “Thousands of Toddlers are Medicated for A.D.H.D., Report Finds, Raising Worries.” Sorry, I won’t share the link; why encourage them?

Wait…TODDLERS? That blows my mind. How could anyone even diagnose a toddler with ADHD? I took our 2-year-old to a story time thing at the library where the toddlers were expected — no lie — to sit nicely in one place and listen to songs and stories for over 30 minutes. I managed to get him to do this somehow, but he had a total meltdown afterward, at which point I carried him home apologizing for not knowing what we were in for and subjecting him to such a developmentally inappropriate activity. He absolutely cannot sit still and be inattentive for any length of time, but my armchair diagnosis for that is “being a toddler.” And that’s with the knowledge that he has two ADHD parents.

Here is my response:

Yes, if a toddler were diagnosed and treated on that basis, that would be very wrong. It’s a very complex issue, but we cannot view ADHD solely through the reductionist lens of behavior. Nor can we assume we know the facts from reading Alan Schwarz’s reporting. Much was missing in that article.

As for treating young children for ADHD, think about it: At its core, ADHD is about problematic dopamine transmission (an oversimplified explanation, but it will have to do for now). That might most obviously manifest in “behavior problems,” but is not limited to that, especially in the more severe presentations and with co-existing conditions.

Dopamine affects many important physiological processes, including those related to respiratory and cardiovascular function (ADHD is associated with higher rates of  enuresis and encopresis, asthma and allergies, and arrthymia), in addition to being the “reward” neurotransmitter that also controls motivation, movement, and emotional regulation. Read the rest of this entry »

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With all the media hand-wringing about the alleged over-diagnosing of boys with ADHD, you’ll find little mention of the under-diagnosing of girls. Hence this gripping post from a guest writer.

After reading my response to Esquire‘s egregious piece (The Drugging of the American Boy), a young woman with diagnosed later in life with ADHD wrote to share her experience. Jaclyn Paul is a writer, artist, and mother to a beautiful toddler. This is her story, illustrated with her childhood report cards:

The Late ADHD Diagnosis of an American Girl

by Jaclyn Paul

Jaclyn Paul

It was a typical high school scene: My friends stood in a tight knot against a row of lockers.

My boyfriend leaned against the wall, inching his feet far out so he was precariously balanced. The hallway reverberated with chatter, whoops, and slamming doors.

What came next may surprise you: With no provocation or forethought, I swooped my leg around and landed my foot against my boyfriend’s calves. He hit the ground hard. As I stared at him sitting on the ground wincing in pain, I was horrified—almost as though I had, for a split second, vacated my own body. What sort of person does such a thing?

I’d asked myself this question all my life. In the third grade, I threw a boy to the ground during gym class, raking long scratches down his forearms with my fingernails. He had cut in front of me in line. My mother, appalled, told me that is how animals behave. Around the same time, I bellowed “DUH!” at a tablemate after listening to our teacher review a lesson with him. This necessitated yet another note home to my parents.

I would love to tell you these were isolated incidents, but they weren’t. I would also love to tell you my parents and teachers recognized the underlying problem here. They didn’t. If I had been a boy, someone surely would have mentioned ADHD. Read the rest of this entry »

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To all ADHD Roller Coaster blog readers who took the time to complete the FDA’s complaint form after experiencing adverse effects from the new  Concerta generics: Good job! You have helped to place these generics on the FDA’s Watch List, as of April 21, 2014. But this is an incremental victory, so we should stay vigilant and continue to advocate on this issue.

Citing “Lack of therapeutic effect, possibly related to product quality issues,” the FDA report goes on to say: Read the rest of this entry »

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When a headline features the word “drugging,” the report about ADHD that follows will not be well-balanced. Such was the case with Esquire’s recent salvo into the topic, “The Drugging of the American Boy.”

Esquire joins The New York Times in treating one of the most well-researched and documented conditions in medical history as a piñata. Bash ADHD and all the goodies fall out. Web traffic soars.The immense anti-psychiatry blogosphere races to showcase the latest proof that they’ve been right all along. Esquire actually calls this piece a “blockbuster investigation” — just in case the ASME judges missed it.

Lost in the shuffle: Accurate reporting on a critically important public health issue affecting millions of Americans.


So reads the introduction to my opinion piece in the New York Observer. It is my rebuttal to Esquire‘s awful, cynical, manipulative, attention-grabbing, hits-hungry piece.

You can read the rest at http://observer.com/2014/04/how-esquire-got-adhd-wrong/#ixzz2zs9yuSU0 .  Please share via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

If those who are most affected by ADHD don’t counter this rubbish, we risk losing a lot. At any time, weak-willed politicians in collusion with an often science-illiterate public could pull the plug on ADHD research funding, insurance reimbursements, and medication supplies.

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