Australian experts meet to consider is ADHD ‘over-medicated’ or ‘a fraud’?

Australia’s first forum of psychiatrists, psychologists, educators, academics, researchers, politicians and other professions concerned about the large and growing number of children diagnosed with ‘ADHD’ and treated with drugs is being convened in Brisbane (7-8 February) by the Youth Affairs Network of Queensland (YANQ).

Opinions as to the validity of ‘ADHD’ as a psychiatric disorder vary among the invited participants. Some consider that ‘ADHD’ is a real but rare condition that is mis-diagnosed and over-medicated; others consider ‘ADHD’ a fraud.

However, all participants agree that unnecessarily administering powerful psychotropic drugs to children is a violation of their rights and often results in serious short and long term harm.

Participants are also concerned that:

  1. The criteria used to diagnose ‘ADHD’ are all subjectively assessed behaviours and these behaviours, losing things, forgetting, fidgeting, butting in, disliking homework, and playing loudly etc are a ‘normal’ part of childhood.
  2. There is nothing ‘ADHD specific’ about the effects of drugs used to treat the ‘disorder’. Although responses vary, most people become temporarily more narrowly focussed and compliant on low dose amphetamines.
  3. Drugs do nothing in the long term to address the many and varied causes of ‘ADHD’ type behaviours’.
  4. On occasions drugs mask the symptoms of serious conditions (such as abuse or trauma).
  5. ‘ADHD’ drugs have well established significant short term risks including cardiovascular and psychiatric problems.
  6. ‘ADHD’ stimulants are amphetamines or amphetamine like drugs that are frequently diverted for illicit use.
  7. We know little about the long-term effects of ADHD drugs on growing brains. The limited data that exists indicates their long term use provides no long term benefit but may pose significant risks.

Whilst the forum will discuss the important issue of whether ‘ADHD’ is misdiagnosed and overmedicated or a fraud; the major focus will be on developing strategies to reduce the rates of prescribing and supporting appropriate responses that help not harm children.

Those presenting at the Monday Morning (10-1) session include;

Professor Sami Timimi (prominent UK psychiatrist and author)- An International perspective on the science and history of ADHD.

Professor Jon Jureidini (Professor, Disciplines of Psychiatry and Paediatrics, University of Adelaide)- The dangers of non drug treatments for ADHD.

Associate Professor Carolyn Quadrio (Associate Professor in Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales) – Overprescribing to children: a general look at problems with psychotropic medication.

Dr Linda Graham (academic, education researcher, author)– Thinking pedagogically about students ‘with ADHD’.

Dr Bob Jacobs (psychologist and researcher) – ‘ADHD’ as social control:  How lies benefit the powerful at the expense of the powerless (children).

Anthony Dillon (academic and researcher)– On the validity of twin studies used to legitimise the diagnosis of ADHD.

Dr Lois Achimovich (psychiatrist)- A clinician’s reflections on the evolution of psychiatric practice over the last 40 years.

Martin Whitely MLA (politician and author)- On 1- the rise and fall of ADHD child prescribing in WA and 2- long term WA data about the safety and efficacy of stimulants and 3- the Draft National Guidelines for the treatment of ADHD.

When: Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 february 2011

Venue: Health Faculty Queensland University of Technology 44 Musk Avenue Kelvin Grove Brisbane

Events open to Public and Media (all free entry):

Monday 7 Febs 10am – 1pm a series of short presentations followed by an open Q and A.

Tuesday 8 February 7pm to 9pm Public Forum; If not medication then what? (both in Lecture Room Q2.43)

Media Conference: Tuesday 8 February 12 noon (Boardroom Q2.04).

To find out more please email one of the organising committee members listed below.

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  1. Wendy Eveleigh’s avatar

    Hi there..
    This discussion looks sensational however I reside in north west NSW, living some 9 hrs drive from the workshop and am unable to attend this and am wondering if the info & outcomes of this discussion will be made avail through your network or an alternative source…can you provide me with any info regarding this enquiry….I would be so very grateful to hear from your organisation.
    Warm regards
    Wendy Eveleigh


    1. martin’s avatar

      Hi Wendy
      Yes there will be a full coverage of the discussion and outcomes of the forum through my blog and hopefully the mainstream media.


    2. Frank Barnhill, MD’s avatar

      This sounds like a great interrogative conference!
      Many of us in the U.S. have long thought that ADHD as a diagnostic construct needed to undergo an over-haul. I’ve long felt that as many as forty percent of ADHD kids were either misdiagnosed or overdiagnosed.

      The harm we do by hastily applying a diagnosis of ADHD to a child who might just be a normal-gifted child is immeasurable when we take into consideration the child’s future and potential for living a “normal life”.

      Additionally, I discovered many children, teens and adults that were wrongfully labeled as ADHD when instead they were suffering the effects of divorce, drug abuse, thyroid disease, bipolar disorder, post concussive syndrome, petit mal seizures, or generalized anxiety disorder.

      When explaining to parents the need for an adequate and thorough evaluation before placing their son or daughter on an ADHD drug that may or may not help and has significant side effects, including social stigma and bias, I point out:
      ADHD is not the only cause for bad or failing grades
      There are no blood tests, imaging tests or single psychological tests that can accurately diagnose ADHD
      Some conditions that mimic ADHD will actually improve with ADHD drugs thus further confusing the correct diagnosis (partial therapeutic response).

      The worse thing that can happen if a child is misdiagnosed with ADHD and another disorder is responsible for the behavior is -death (suicide from depression, thyroid failure, etc.).
      We must be diligent in our efforts to accurately diagnose and effectively treat ADHD as failure to diagnose as early as possible can lead to the same consequences as misdiagnosis- failure in life!

      Good luck with the conference… wish I could be there!
      Frank Barnhill, MD
      Author “Mistaken for ADHD’


    3. mead’s avatar

      Did a search on your first three speakers and found them to all be anti-psychiatry, anti-medication The first two were linked to directly to Scientology itself – Is your point of view so weak as to require this level of bias to be misrepresented as fact – I would have been more interested in what you have to say if you #1 Weren’t trying to sale a book which is nothing but the same ole big pharma conspiracy theories that those of us in the states have long sense blow off as hype #2 had an actual panel of experts who come from a diverse point of view regarding ADHD treatment – all you have is a bunch of anti- medication folks who are linked to Scientology #3 If you wouldn’t be dismissive of the actual people who have the disorder in favor of your own propaganda – You are doing more harm than good. You are preventing people who are struggling from getting the help they need by the spreading of fear uncertainty and doubt


    4. martin’s avatar

      Mead’s statement that a ‘search of the first three speakers and found them to all be anti-psychiatry’ is perplexing; as all three (Professor’s Sami Timimi and Jon Jureidini and Associate Professor Carolyn Quadrio) are senior psychiatrists. Psychiatrists criticising bad psychiatry is not ‘anti-psychiatry’, it is how professions should operate. And Mead’s claim that Timimi and Jureidini are direclty connected to Scientology is complete rubbish.

      As for me ‘trying to sale (I presume Mead means sell) a book’ all authors entitlements from my book ‘Speed Up and Sit Still- the controversies of ADHD diagnosis and treatment’ are donated to charity.

      Mead’s inaccurate comments are unfortunately typical of many in the ADHD industry cheer squad. They let their enthusiasm for the use of amphetamines to control the behaviour of inattentive, impulsive children, distort the truth. It is unfortunate they rarely address the real issues which relate to the validity of the seven statements contained in the original blog. For that is a debate worth having.



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