Thursday, September 9, 2021

Parenting Styles and ADHD Symptoms


In my continued effort to beat a dead horse, this post concerns yet another not-so-science-based characteristic of authors of the literature on ADHD: their refusal to consider any alternate interpretations of their data other than that they are studying some sort of brain disease. In this case, they do not consider the possibility that the symptoms of their subjects come as a result of environmental issues, such as a chaotic home environment and/or sleep deprivation.

One well-publicized study (Variable Patterns of Remission From ADHD in the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD | American Journal of Psychiatry ( purports to show that up to 90% of children who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may continue to experience residual symptoms of the disorder into young adulthood. Amazingly, the authors add that they may also have periods of remission along the way. In other words, ADHD is a disease with waxing and waning symptoms. Could it not be that other, environmental issues that create their symptoms are what is doing the waxing and waning???

In another publication, Greg Mattingly, MD, of the Midwest Research Group, tells us that, “Instead of resorting to positive parenting, many of them [parents of kids diagnosed with ADHD] have fallen back on what we call negative parenting: scolding, discipline, getting frustrated. As we shift into next year, we need to shift into how we shift into a positive parenting model. I want you to talk to your kids with encouragement about the school year. Share something each day that was something cool they learned in a positive way, and then complement them for sharing that fact back with you."

So the symptoms get better with positive changes in parenting style? The author doesn’t seem to consider the possibility that negative parenting styles were perhaps a big cause of the so-called disease in the first place. 

This reminds me of TARA, a support group for parents of people with BPD (at least those that weren’t physically or sexually abusive, since those relatively common parents-of-kids-with-the-disorder would never join a parent support group —other than perhaps the False Memory Syndrome Foundation). They teach parents how not to invalidate their kids but somehow don’t mention the DBT theory that an invalidating environment is a major cause of the disorder in the first place. In TARA's case, this isn’t a bad thing because if they did that, a lot of these parents wouldn’t attend their seminars. But researchers in the field ignores this issue as well.

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