Does ADHD Exist? (Redux)

On a recent post on the Doc-L Listserv, Dr. Tod Davis recommended a book by Richard Saul, a pediatric neurologist based in North Suburban Chicago, entitled: “ADHD Does Not Exist“.  We blogged about this two years ago, but it is worth re-visiting.  When you listen to Dr. Saul interviewed about this, he qualifies the title by stating that the symptoms attributed to ADHD are very real, but often attributable to other causes rather than to ADHD as a unique disease entity.  He also acknowledges that there is a small subset of these children who really do need medication to orient their attention – but that’s only about 5% of the children who are actually taking medication once the underlying causes have been properly tested for and addressed.


At the 6 minute mark of this interview, the host asks Dr. Saul for the other conditions that can causes symptoms, and he replies beginning with the most common misdiagnoses, which are vision and hearing problems.  The host replies, “Well that just seems painfully obvious, Dr. Saul … If you have vision or hearing problems, you’re not going to be engaged.”

I like the way his chapter on Vision Problems (in which he includes binocular vision problems) begins with The Big Point as follows:

“Problems related to vision among the most overlooked explanations for attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms.  Children (and adults) who struggle to see normally are likely to demonstrate short attention span and distractability that may be mistaken as symptoms of ADHD.  Steps taken to address the vision problem should resolve the attention/hyperactivity symptoms.”

Our VisionHelp colleague Dr. Carole Hong and I addressed this in detail, in an article published in 2009, but it is always welcome news to see this concept in print from a pediatric neurologist.

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