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Our distracted age

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The ADHD industrial complex continues to expand

In recent weeks, I've had the unfortunate need to check back into the labryinth of professional treatments for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder—a scary destination indeed for someone with limits on both her patience and insurance. 

I first described the perplexing industry of largely unregulated. and, yes, almost entirely uncovered therapies, including supposedly diagnostic brain scans (beware!), hair follicle analysis, complicated exercise regimes, and recommended supplements from fish oil to ginseng, in my ADHD memoir, "Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention." That was five years ago, and since then what I came to consider as the ADHD Industrial Complex has only expanded. Today, the overwhelmed and likely distracted consumer must try to sort out the truth from the claims of many more expensive and increasingly niche-oriented gambits, including wrap-around clinics offering an array of treatments advertized as sure-fire cures for adolescents failing to launch.

We parents of kids with ADHD who also share that affliction are desperately in need of some kind of health ombudsman or even a Yelp sort of system that might rate these treatments. Pediatricians usually only know about medication (and not much), but there are indeed other professionally offered treatments that can be helpful, including in particular cognitive behavioral therapy. Until we get something like that, each one of us has to sharpen our investigative skills, research away (on sites with .edu suffixes, not .com!) and caveat emptor.

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Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer Prize winning author.

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