ADHD Misdiagnosis

Attention and Behavior Problems Are Not ADHD

I have never seen a child that actually has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In my medical practice, I have seen thousands of children that have been labeled ADHD and thousands of children that have been prescribed psychiatric drugs for ADHD, but when they came to my office without a thorough history taken, a complete physical exam, lab work, allergy testing, heavy metal testing or educational testing. When I performed these tests, I discovered that none of them had ADHD. There was always some medical, physical or educational reason for the symptoms. If your child was labeled ADHD without these tests, there is a good chance your child was misdiagnosed as well.

Children with attention and behavior problems can have many different medical or educational problems that cause the attention and behavior symptoms. If one of these other diagnoses is found then that is the real diagnosis, not ADHD.

Find The Cause—Fix The Problem

Labeling children as ADHD and prescribing a psychiatric drug may be quick, easy and cheap, but I do not consider it to be good medicine. I was taught to always look for the underlying cause of any medical problem. Most of the children I have seen that were labeled as ADHD had teachers that encouraged the parents to take the child to the doctor for a prescription. The doctors usually did not do a physical exam, nor took a thorough history. Rarely was any lab work or allergy testing performed. The doctor just accepted the teacher’s opinion for it and prescribed a psychiatric drug to the child.

There is No Objective Medical Test for ADHD

The diagnosis of ADHD is actually made from a checklist filled out by the parents and teachers. Of course, the teachers know what to check to assure an ADHD diagnosis so it doesn’t surprise me that the diagnosis is given quickly and readily just as are the psychiatric drugs used to treat ADHD. Because the label made from a check list, ADHD is just a made up psychiatric label that is based on a group of subjective symptoms. There is no means available to determine that someone actually has ADHD. Your child might have many of the symptoms that make up the psychiatric disorder called ADHD but those same symptoms can be caused from many medical and educational problems as well.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there is no valid test for ADHD, there is no data indicating it is a brain disorder and there is little improvement in academic and social skills when it is treated with drugs.

ADHD Drugs Have Many Potential and Serious Side Effects

It concerns me greatly that children are prescribed these psychiatric drugs that come with a host of potentially dangerous side effects. I am sure you would like your child to be appropriately evaluated before using any of those drugs. The number of children and adolescents taking psychiatric drugs tripled in the past ten years. A study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reported that pediatricians and child psychiatrists are turning more and more to prescription drugs to treat their young patients. The study said “little research exists to indicate whether psychiatric drugs are being prescribed responsibly in most cases, or whether they are being over-prescribed-in part because health insurers are reluctant to pay for non-medication treatments.”

The article went on to say that “few psychiatric drugs are approved for use in children” and the “long-term effects on the developing brain are unknown”, though “animal studies have hinted that some of these drugs may have a lasting impact on the brain when given prior to puberty”.

Kiddie Cocaine

I refer to Ritalin as “Kiddie Cocaine”. It has been known for years that the most commonly prescribed drug, Ritalin, is very similar to cocaine. Medical research has found that Ritalin goes to the same receptor site in the brain as cocaine, causes the same high when taken in the same manner and is used interchangeably with cocaine in medical research. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published as article that indicates that Ritalin is actually more potent than cocaine. There have been studies indicating that children who take Ritalin are more likely to use drugs like cocaine when they are older. There have been studies that say just the opposite, that taking drugs like Ritalin make a child less likely to use cocaine. I believe both studies are correct. If the child continues to take Ritalin, there would be no reason to use other drugs because the child is already taking a drug that is similar to cocaine. However, if the child has taken Ritalin and then stopped it, that child might be more likely to use cocaine. I speculate that this is because the other drug stimulated the “cocaine” receptor sight. Another study found that primates picked Ritalin over cocaine when given the choice.

Other ADHD Drugs

There are other drugs that are very similar to Ritalin. Some are actually the same as Ritalin but have a different name. Adderal is straight amphetamines. It has never made sense to me to prescribe these dangerous and addictive drugs to young children based on a diagnosis that is completely subjective and has no objective basis. I think that if a child has not had a complete medical and educational work-up, it would be very inappropriate for a doctor to prescribe one of these drugs.

Avatar for Dr. Mary Ann Block

Dr. Mary Ann Block

Dr. Mary Ann Block is Medical Director of The Block Center, an international clinic for the treatment of chronic health problems in children and adults. She is an international expert on the treatment of ADHD without psychiatric drugs. Her approach is to look for and treat the underlying problem instead of covering the symptoms with drugs.


  1. Avatar for Karen Molino Karen Molino on December 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I am looking for some kind of direction. About 5 years ago, my son was diagnosed with ADHD with all three elements. He is now 10 yrs old and the last 5 years has been like an emotional roller coaster with the medications and the back and forth with school. We have tried so many meds with no success. I am beginning to wonder if he was not misdiagnosed and could it be something else completely. I just do not know how to go about it or who I should take him to in order to get a correct diagnosis. If you can point me in the right direction I would appreciate it. I am at my wits end with this situation and I do not know who to turn to in order to get results. I appreciate any help you can provide. Thank you.

    Karen Molino

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