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Does ADHD really exist?

Leading neuroscientist calls into question whether the behavioural condition is a diagnosis or a description of a range of symptoms.

Any parent dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) knows how difficult it can be to help your child keep the symptoms in check so they don't affect his everyday life. But Dr Bruce Perry, senior fellow from the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas, has suggested that ADHD is 'not a real disease'.

In an interview with the Observer he said, 'It is best thought of as a description. If you look at how you end up with that label, it is remarkable because any one of us at any given time would fit at least a couple of those criteria.'

A short attention span, restless or constant fidgeting and being easily distracted are just some of the symptoms of ADHD.

ADHD is normally diagnosed between the ages of three and seven, and more often in boys than girls.

Dr Perry also called into question the use of methylphenidate drugs, such as Ritalin. Use of the drugs in the UK has increased over recent years - up from 420,000 in 2007 to 657,000 in 2012.

'Any one of us at any given time would fit at least a couple [ADHD] criteria'

'Taking a medication influences systems in ways we don't always understand,' he said. 'I tend to be pretty cautious about this stuff, particularly when the research shows you that other interventions are equally effective and over time more effective and have none of the adverse effects.'

As parents, keeping our own anxieties in check can help to regulate experiences for the child by giving realistic goals and having realistic expections, says Dr Perry.

'There are lots of therapeutic approaches,' he added. 'Some would use somatosensory therapies like yoga, some use motor activity like drumming.'

Have you got a child diagnosed with ADHD? Let us know what you think of the latest development in the comments box below.

 
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