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This Just In…..Sneezing Causes Allergies

July 11, 2013

ADHD Doesn't Cause AllergiesI spend a lot of time reading about ADHD.  I read news articles, blogs, research studies, books, and pretty much anything I can get my hands on.  I try to keep an open mind and make room in my world view for information and even opinions that are contrary to what I believe or that put ADHD in a negative light.  For obvious reasons, this can be very challenging.

I live in a house full of ADHD and am part of a family where we have chosen to see ADHD as just another thing about us, not a disability or a disorder.  I work with lots of ADHDers and spend a lot of time and energy helping other people see that ADHD is a lot of things but it doesn’t have to be only the bad things.

So, I know I can become defensive when presented with some study, opinion, or article that contradicts my world view – I am only human afterall, even with my ADHD superpowers.

However, I read an article recently that troubled me and I can’t seem to let it go.   I will never understand why so many people are so invested in making ADHD about anything other than having a brain that works differently.  Perhaps those who have it see that in a negative way and those who don’t have it don’t want it to be something good, since they didn’t get to have it.

Whatever the reason, I find that there is a huge amount of effort expended just trying to pin down something that in my world, we already have the answer to – what causes ADHD.

The article I am referring to looked at the relationship between sleep and ADHD symptoms.  It found that many children showed ADHD-like symptoms when they are sleep deprived and therefore concluded that ADHD must be caused by sleep deprivation.  Well, perhaps the study the article was referencing didn’t go that far but the headline of the article inferred that sleep deprivation causes ADHD.

Now, I have several problems with this, the least of which being that there is no case for causality simply because two things are happening concurrently.  But more importantly, if difficulty sleeping, which happens to cause sleep deprivation, is a well known and generally accepted SYMPTOM of ADHD, how can it also be the cause of ADHD?

And, most importantly, why doesn’t the article mention this or take this into account.

I had the same problem with this study that determined that since children with ADHD were more likely to have parents that smoked than those without ADHD that second hand smoke caused ADHD.  Even a rudimentary understanding of ADHD makes it clear why causation cannot be inferred in this case.  People with ADHD are more likely to smoke than those without it for several reasons including self-medicating and impulse control issues.  Additionally, children of people with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD than children whose parents do not have it.  Therefore, children with ADHD are more likely to have parents who smoke than children who do not have it.  But this does not mean that second hand smoke causes ADHD.  This study also failed to recognize that smoking can be a symptom of ADHD or that there is strong evidence supporting the idea that ADHD is hereditary.

To me, both of these are like saying that sneezing causes allergies since  people with allergies are more likely to sneeze than people who don’t have them.

Maybe if sleep deprivation causes ADHD all I really need is a good night’s sleep.  If only this crazy brain of mine would shut off long enough for me to find out….

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