While I was writing Mistaken for ADHD, it occurred to me that this book is a collection of tragedies about ADHD and mistakes in diagnosis.
Between its covers are real-life tragedies that are played out as seriously as those of any Greek drama.
As you read about the thirty or more lives portrayed, you, too, will feel the agony, the overwhelming frustration, the seemingly fathomless hopelessness, and the horrible destruction caused by a wrongful diagnosis of ADHD.
You’ll discover the pain caused by years of treating the wrong disease with the wrong medications. You’ll find children so falsely and adamantly labeled as ADHD that they were shunned by their playmates and treated as less than normal by their teachers and family.
You’ll find yourself immersed in the lives of kids and parents who endured years of inappropriate therapy and spent thousands of dollars and invested hundreds of hours in treatments that could not work.
Until a parent has dealt with what I describe as the never-ending, fast-moving, one minute hot, the next minute cold, and sometimes upside down-inside-out life of the ADHD child, it would be hard for them to imagine how difficult raising such a child can be.
These parents must deal with frustration, despair, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, remorse,dread of the future, embarrassment, and sometimes anger.
Their entire family structure is affected and even threatened by their ADHD child.
In some cases, social and work problems plague them as a result of that ADHD tag.
More important, you’ll feel the pain parents experienced as a result of their ADHD kids not getting better on medications or behavioral therapy. These parents often were worried about what ADHD drugs were doing to their child’s brain; that their child could become addicted to ADHD drugs; that psychiatric therapy might cause their child to become more emotional; about labeling their child with a disorder that might cause their child to fail instead of succeed in life.
By the time they reached this point in their search for ADHD truths, most parents were near emotional collapse. They were desperate for answers—any answers, anywhere they could find them. I saw glimpses of the fear of failure, the sense of loss of control, and the grasping at straws that indicated they were at the proverbial end of their rope. I heard story after story about Internet searches that returned dozens of Web sites selling quick-fix ADHD cures using vitamins, fish oils, herbal therapies, and complex mineral supplements.
Many parents told of buying books on ADHD therapy and behavioral analysis, only to be further frustrated when they didn’t work. Google the terms “ADHD discrimination” or “ADHD bias” and you’ll find dozens of stories of parents frustrated by school rules and lack of educational help for their failing ADHD son or daughter. You’ll read about moms and dads and brothers and sisters socially shunned and rejected just because of their relation to an ADHD child. You’ll also discover teens and adults who didn’t qualify for a job or for military service because of their ADHD label.
As a result of these observations and my own frustrations, several years ago I started publishing an ADHD Web site called drhuggiebear.com and an Internet newsletter called Living with ADHD, both dedicated to providing parents with information about ADHD, its proper diagnosis, ADHD therapy, other behavioral disorders, and controversies about treatment.
The drhuggiebear.com site has spun off several other sites including MistakenForADHD.com because thousands of member-subscribers and visitors accessed information so frequently that the available capacity was rapidly exceeded. MistakenForADHD.com is now a broad content-based resource for all who wish to learn about behavioral disorders.
You should avoid giving teachers and doctors the impression that you know your child is definitely ADHD, as you will bias them.
As you complete this learning adventure, you’ll understand the lumultuous emotional rollercoaster ride that provokes fear of failure, shame, guilt, and destruction of self-esteem in ADHD-misdiagnosed children and their parents.
Along the way, we’ll explore the forty-six conditions—or, as I refer to them, zebras—most commonly responsible for a misdiagnosis of ADHD. In each chapter, you’ll find comparisons both subtle and not-so-subtle of the signs and symptoms common to the zebra and ADHD. You’ll also find discussions of the differences that provide clues that a zebra is just that and not ADHD. Prior to the conclusion of each discussion, we’ll explore ways to diagnose each zebra correctly and options for appropriate therapy.
Frank Barnhill, M.D. is the author of Mistaken for ADHD, a HowToLearn.com ADHD expert and the founder of the Mistaken For ADHD blog. He is a family physician who specializes in finding the conditions that mimic ADHD.
Related articles on ADHD: Diagnosing ADHD The Right Way
Resources: Mistaken for ADHD