A Harvard Doc Says My Son Doesn’t Have ADHD

Jerome Kagan, one of Harvard University’s dominant psychologists is making quite the rounds on the internet. In a 2012 interview, he shared a very controversial opinion regarding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder — he believes it doesn’t exist. If you’d like to read his entire interview here, feel free, but let me spoil it for you: He believes we are over-medicating our children and ADHD, an invented disorder, could be dealt with through tutoring and paying more attention to our children.

Should I have started with the disclaimer that my oldest son is diagnosed with ADHD?  Probably. I think it matters because my point of view in raising a child with ADHD verses a psychologist who merely studies them may garner different results.

With that said, I do agree with quite a bit the good doctor stated in his interview. For instance, when asked about the difference in numbers between mentally ill children (aka kids with some sort of mental disorder attached to them) now and in the 1960s, Dr. Kagan replied:

“We have a 7-year-old child who is bored in school and disrupts classes. Back then, he was called lazy. Today, he is said to suffer from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). That’s why the numbers have soared.”

However, he then goes on to say he believes ADHD to be an invented mental disorder.

“That’s correct; it is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.”

Here’s where we disagree a bit. I completely believe our human race, as a whole, to be over medicated. I believe there have been man-made inventions which are preferred for instant reward. Headache? Pain reliever. Sore muscles? Muscle relaxer. Heart Burn? Antacid. You get the idea.  I also agree these “issues” are symptoms to something greater; more often than not, we don’t want to take time in discovering the cause of our symptoms–we just want the problem fixed. Now.


SEE MORE: Parenting ADHD: 6 Things I Wish I  Had Known


Essentially Dr. Kagan is saying this is exactly what happens with ADHD. He believes that doctors and pharmaceutical companies drive prescriptions. And they may.


My doctor didn’t drive me to medicate my son.

In fact, my doctor preferred to try everything else before meds. Once on medication, he strongly advocated for the lowest possible dose.

Additionally, we spent many times in the office where our doc made sure it was very clear to my son that his meds would not solve all of his issues in school.

This doesn’t sound like a doctor being courted by a pharmaceutical company. And my monthly budget certainly didn’t want to add meds to the shopping list.

Are there families and children that are victim to greedy doctors and drug companies? Sadly, I believe there are. But for Dr. Kagan to make such a blanket statement regarding any and all children with this diagnosis is, well, dangerous.

Luckily he is just one doctor. One believer. One man. Forgive me if adding Harvard to the end of his name doesn’t impress me much.

Let me introduce you to Dr. Amen. The first thing I loved about Dr. Amen is he deals with disorders in children within his extended family (nephew) and his own daughters. I beg of you to watch the video below from its starting point to minute 37:15–about 5 minutes.

This man has been in the trenches and watched, lived with and loved children who have “abnormal” brain function 24 hours a day. This is a man whose opinion I value.

In watching many of his lectures, my biggest realization has been this: My ADHD son is not mentally ill. I will not refer to him as having a mental disorder or brain disorder.  What he does have is a brain that works differently than majority of humans.  Does this mean he’s abnormal? It does not. This means that instead of having blue eyes, he has brown. Instead of having freckles, he doesn’t have any. It means he functions differently from you and me.  Does everyone love studying frogs in the rain forest? Nope. Does loving to do that make them abnormal? Heck no. And maybe this is what Dr. Kagan is trying to say…but his wording simply doesn’t sit right with me. Rather than saying ADHD is an invention, let’s understand that ADHD is describing the way in which my son’s brain functions.

One more thing I will agree with Dr. Kagan about is that our current state of society and expectations makes it hard with someone (like my son) to function in the expected manner. Tutoring and more one-on-one time would help tremendously. It would resolve some of the “issues” those with this invented disorder have, but certainly not everything.


SEE MORE: Don’t Give Up On Me Because I’m ADHD: A Letter From My Son


If we were in the 1800s, my son would most likely have been milking cows and doing hard labor starting at 4am. After chores were done, he’d be in a classroom with 20 less kids than today, for a shorter amount of time. His diet would be significantly different and then he’d be back outside until dark doing more chores or playing until his legs dropped dead. So yes, Dr. Kagan, our society is different now. Our lifestyles have changed in a way that is not friendly to those who need to keep busy and function in an “abnormal manner”. But guess what? The ADHD diagnosis allows my son to get the extra tutoring at school you say he so desperately needs; without this “made-up invention” he can’t get exceptions in school with his 504.  Instead he’d be stuck in a classroom of 32 kids drowning.

If you want to get to the root cause of over-diagnosing ADHD, I’m all for it. The first order of business isn’t to look at the kids who are struggling, but to look at the environment they are struggling in. This very well could be one of those moments where the problem isn’t them — it’s us.  Let’s find ways to understand those who struggle, how they work, and what we can do to help them be successful.

Until our entire society can change together instantaneously, please be understanding and respectful to those who actually have brains which function differently than the average person. These are the ones who need to be labeled ADHD;  they need extra help, even if that extra help includes labeling them with what Dr. Kagan would call a “made-up invention” so they can get medication, or therapy recommendations, or exceptions in school…and the list goes on.

I am okay with medical professionals labeling the way my son’s brain function as ADHD. It’s not made up. Dr. Amen’s lectures and thousands of brain scans have made it very clear that my son’s brain is special, unique and needs a little bit of help to fit in to our societal boxes.  I just hope everyone else out there who runs in to a kid (or mom, or co-worker, or spouse) with ADHD can fully understand this and love these wonderfully special people we call ADHD.


See More on TodaysMama.com!

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The post A Harvard Doc Says My Son Doesn’t Have ADHD appeared first on TodaysMama.

Money Saving Hacks To Keep Your Family Healthy

This is a sponsored post on behalf of FamilyWize.

Motherhood has helped me hone a few skills in recent years.

I’ve come to realize that a few key concepts have benefitted both me and my kiddos, mightily.

Do your best to stay healthy.

No, you don’t have to douse yourself in antibacterial gel, but rest and nourish your body, head to the doctor when you’re feeling lousy, and be diligent about your medications and supplements.

Simplify your household.

Clear the clutter. Automate what you can. Let the apps and the websites of your favorite businesses do the heavy lifting.

Save money when you can.

More money in your pocket means more flexibility, more fun, and more peace of mind.

Did you know you can do all three of those things with FamilyWize?

What is FamliyWize?

FamilyWize negotiates deep discounts on prescription medications, passing along 100% of those discounts to patients whether they are insured or uninsured and on average, users typically receive a discount of around 40 percent on their prescription medications when using FamilyWize.

There are two simple ways to sign up to receive savings with FamilyWize with no eligibility requirements or fees:

To sign up for the Free Prescription Discount Card, simply go to Familywize.org.
Users can also download the brand new, free mobile app to their phones via the iOS App Store and Google Play.

To receive the savings, just present the card to the pharmacist at pickup at over 60,000 partner pharmacy locations. Easy.

The FamilyWize website and app are also packed with features to help you save time and money.

The Drug Price Lookup Tool allows users to compare the FamilyWize price of their prescription costs between local pharmacies to receive the best possible savings in a designated zip code.

One of FamilyWize’s newest features, Medicine Cabinet, allows users to create a personal profile to store their family’s prescription information in one secure location. Users can save and track their prescription drug searches, bundle prescription by pharmacy to see the total cumulative costs prior to purchasing, edit the dosage, strength, and quantity of their changing prescriptions, and compare pricing between generic and name brand prescriptions.

FamilyWize’s app also offers pill and refill reminders.

Wondering what sort of savings you could be looking at?

Below is a snapshot example of the discounts FamilyWize offers on some of the top prescribed drugs in the U.S. (Prices are subject to change)

Liptor (Atorvastatin Calcium)

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  • Retail price: $48.45+

Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint (Levothyroxine)

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  • Retail price: $21 +

Prinivil (Lisinopril)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $10.31
  • Retail price: $20.87+

Lotrel (Amlodipine Besylate-Benazepril)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $26.72
  • Retail price: $68.49+

Zocor (Simvastatin)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $12.49
  • Retail price: $62.73+

Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet (Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $16.11
  • Retail price: $52.78+

EPIPENS: FamilyWize’s lowest current price: $376.25 (retail price $400+)

Those price differences are HUGE!

See what a difference these discounted rates make…

Maryann Small is a breast cancer survivor who turned to FamilyWize to help cut the costs of her prescriptions. At the time that she was diagnosed, Maryann was paying for her two daughters’ college expenses, and was the primary caregiver for her then 88-year-old mother who suffers from dementia. In a two-year period, she underwent six surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. She was then prescribed an Adjuvant chemotherapy drug that would cost her $1,100 for a 90-day period, even with insurance. When a friend suggested that Maryann use the FamilyWize Prescription Discounts Card to reduce her medication prices, her life changed dramatically. The cost of her prescriptions were reduced by 67 percent. Thanks to FamilyWize, Maryann was able choose both her health, and the well-being of her family.

Think what you could do with the money you save…

Visit FamilyWize.com for more details including stories from other families that have benefitted from these deep discounts.

How a Daughter’s Illness Taught One Mom to Listen to Her Gut

This article originally appeared on YourTango. By Katherine Agranovich.

How a Daughter’s Illness Taught One Mom to Listen to Her Gut

The powerful way one intelligent, science-minded mom learned to listen to her gut.

When my little girl, Jessica, was four years old, she developed a life-threatening blood disease called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).

My happy, innocent child was covered in black bruises and had bleeding sores in her mouth.

“This condition,” her hematologist explained, “is an autoimmune response by the body to the virus and Jessica’s spleen is destroying its own blood platelets. There are two options to treat it,” she continued. “We can either suppress her hyperactive immunity by administrating high dosages of steroids” (which we had tried for a few months with no lasting success), “or, we can remove the source of her malady, her spleen.”

When the doctor offered me this second, brutal option, something deep within me stated firmly: “No! This is not necessary.”

For a split-second, this powerful inner voice quelled my inflamed mind, and I made a decision to explore other options.

I thanked the doctor for her opinion, picked up my child, and left the office.

Driven by this unexplained, newly emerged determination, I embarked on a journey of discovery to find what else might be possible.

Page by page, book by book, blog by blog, I was gaining knowledge.

More and more I grew confident that if my daughter’s body created this glitch, it had the ability to override it.

My job was simply to provide a beneficial environment for her to do so.

Surprisingly, for the first time in months, my mind was sharp and clear and I knew that I was on the right path.

Inspiration from within was pouring in: natural, organic nutrition; positive mental affirmations; energy healing; chiropractic adjustments; homeopathic treatments—all forming a powerful army of allies to resolve this predicament.

Soon enough, within weeks, I began to notice Jessica’s bruises diminishing and her skin rash and mouth sores clearing up. But the greatest reward was seeing the actual physical evidence that my intuition was working: my daughter’s blood work showed her platelet count was gradually increasing. 

Then one day, months after Jessica’s steady recovery had evolved into solid remission, I was sitting on my balcony, staring at the endlessly stretching horizon where the sky meets the sea. And I began to wonder about the inner voice that had carried me through the madness and trauma of Jessica’s illness, feeding my mind with answers and solutions and my heart with confidence and hope.

What was that voice?

I had no idea.

Could it be that mysterious spiritual phenomena called ‘the sixth sense,’ unexplained, yet real, just like the emotions of love and trust?

Growing up in atheistic Soviet Russia and trained in the medical field, I was a practical scientist. I had not been raised to acknowledge this unseen part of myself.

Then, strangely, an old memory came to mind with a metaphoric meaning.

Back in Russia, right after I got married, I remembered how one night, when I returned home after a long day at medical college, I heard strange noises emanating from the bedroom—a mixture of static and some foreign language. My husband was listening to the forbidden radio station called Voice of America, transfixed by its message, dimming the hissing voices of fear in his mind and replacing them with meaning and purpose: a better life for his family

Now, as I watched from my balcony, the orange disc of the sun began its glorious descent, melting into the ocean, captivating my senses and bringing me back to the present.

I could hear my intuitive voice speak: I am always here for you. When your mind is calm, you can hear me.

That was when I sensed a strong mental imagery: a bright column of light (which I sense is my intuition) surrounded by layer upon layer of shadowy, human conditioning, all forming a kind of grandiose carousel in my mind.

I realized that in order for me to receive guidance from my intuitive core, the carousel has to slow down; my brain’s activity has to diminish.

And I wonder, what’s more important? The pursuit of action—a constant race to do and achieve—or slowing down and reconnecting with this voice within?

As I sat quietly, my brain ran a recap of all the times in my past when I intuitively knew better, yet turned a deaf ear to this inner voice.

How much unnecessary pain and drama I’ve had to endure as a result! But why? 

Because since childhood, nobody ever taught me to listen to my inner self, to trust its voice and act upon it. 

Instead, I was always told what to think and what to do. And so, these outside messages became louder than the intuitive knowledge I had within, even though it was always there, buried beneath the static.

Now that I’m an adult, it is up to me to train myself in the habit of tuning into my intuition. 

And as life has taught me, it’s important to develop this skill, as my inner voice has proven itself to be extremely useful. Besides, it’s kind of cool to know that deep within me the answer exists before the problem arises; that there’s strength to meet any challenge, and clarity before chaos appears.

So how do I tap that inner wisdom?

I’ve learned that I must find ways to calm myself down, consciously and purposefully throughout the day.

The goal is to self-induce this meditative, trance-like state of the mind. Not by hypnotism or even traditional meditation, necessarily. No, it’s even simpler than that.

The way to achieve this, I’ve found, is by doing small things that I already enjoy doing, like watering my garden, daydreaming about an upcoming vacation, or thinking about a joyful experience.

I feel this inner calm when I’m taking a bath, baking a pie, sitting in the lotus position while gazing at a candle, building Legos with my kids, or running my fingers through the soft fur of my golden retriever.

And then it happens … When my five senses are captivated, something within me speaks, and this voice is always positive and reassuring.

Radiating from the heart, it fills my mind with practical suggestions and appropriate guidance.

It’s awesome to know that there’s something bigger than me, louder than all the static in my head, ready and available to assist and carry me through all the ups and downs of my life.

We all have this inner voice, so why not listen? Why not make it easier on ourselves, not harder?

Oh, well, I guess it’s just another habit that nobody thought to teach us…

But we can teach ourselves now. 


Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a Medical Hypnotherapist and Holistic Consultant. She is the author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family. Contact her for an office or phone consultation to attain mental-emotional alignment and close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

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