Frequently, I hear from parents that they just want to know “why” something  is taking place (e.g., a behavior or a learning problem) .  As I hear their question, I understand they are seeking a “diagnosis,” such as ADHD or dyslexia.

For many parents when they get the diagnosis, they find comfort in it, believing that they have gotten to the root of the problem.

As we discussed last week, (“Why Ask ‘Why'”) the concern of of “why” is that the answer is highly speculative.

Related to this, I would like to offer a couple of quotes from Dr. William Carey, the late, renowned pediatric researcher from CHOP.

“‘I think the current diagnosis of ADHD is a mess and has been wildly overdone.  It blames a variety of symptoms entirely on the child’s brain, and ignores the child’s environment and the interaction with it.’”

The assumptions that the ADHD symptoms arise from cerebral malfunction has not been supported even after extensive investigations.  The current diagnostic system ignores the probable contributory role of the environment, presuming  the problem is supposedly all in the child.” 

“The questionnaires most commonly used to diagnose ADHD are highly subjective and impressionistic”

“The label of ADHD, which is widely thought of as being beneficial, has little practical specificity and may become harmful.”

Parents may feel a degree of comfort relative to getting a “why,” but I can’t shake Dr. Carey from ringing in my ears.

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022,

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