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Simple test for ADD????? Just a theory

Thiessen umthie48 at mail.cc.umanitoba.ca
Mon Nov 20 08:22:29 EST 1995

 Alan J. Robinson posted the following:
<Part of this controversy is its recent extension to adult behavior, 
where it has indeed taken on the nature of a "pop" diagnosis.>

In some areas of N.A. it may be "easy" for adults to get this diagnosis.
However, it has been my experience in Canada that even those diagnosed 
as children, and armed with records from their previous pediatrician, 
are still having difficulty getting treatment for ADD as adults. It is 
still widely believed that this disorder disappears "magically" at the 
age of 18 or 21 (whenever the age of majority is in your state or 

Those adults who have not been previously diagnosed are having even 
greater difficulty, as much of their life may be "muddied" with other 
problems, such as anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, 
relationship problems, substance abuse, etc.  Often it is difficult to 
get through all the differential diagnosis issues and sort out the root 

It takes a very good diagnostician and lots of time to sort all this 
current stuff out and also do a very thorough developmental (childhood), 
academic and familial history. This often involves speaking to family 
members or others who knew the patient during childhood. Some physicians 
may not want to take the time, deny the disorder exists, or (worse case) 
give a perscription just to get the patient out the door. From my 
experience in dealing with many adults, most physicians won't deal with 
this at all. It's like opening a real "can of worms". If a physician 
places an adult on a stimulant, and is doing it too often, you have the 
College of Physician and Surgeons and the pharmacists on your back. Who 
would want to wade into this mess? 

The media has made things much more difficult regarding ADD. There has 
been so much "dis-information" about these disorders in the last couple 
of years, that the whole thing has become a circus. This has created a 
back-lash which has fallen on those who are legitimately suffering from 
ADD and those who are good at diagnosing it. I would like to see what 
would happen if the media attacked and belittled another psychiatric 
disorder such as schizophrenia, which is the "hallowed ground" of 
psychiatry. No psychiatric disorder has a "test" for it. Most are based 
on presenting symptoms, history, and speaking to "significant others".

My experience is that ADD is not a "pop" diagnosis. ADD is a legitimate, 
often underdiagnosed (especially in females), psychiatric disorder that 
can contribute to severe problems in adulthood if not recognized and 
treated properly.

That's my 4 cents worth.

Jan Thiessen
Learning Disabilities Assoc. of Manitoba

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