Parental Denial of ADD… a common reaction, actually worsens outlook – Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari

Parental Denial of ADD… a common reaction, actually worsens outlook – Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari

Parents of children suspected of having ADD (inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, or combined forms) often engage in denying even the possibility of the need for testing, let alone treating (if necessary) the disorder. This denial is often understandable, and may in some ways be somewhat protective in nature and well intentioned. However, it actually may make matters worse since it prevents finding out what the truth is, and if the problem is there, it allows it to actually grow and worsen.

There are a number of reasons this denial may take place. One is an extension of a simple childhood fantasy, “If I don’t admit to it, its not really there”. Even as adults a lot of this “magical” thinking goes on.

Another cause of denial is the “self-protective” one. Some parents (often fathers) see any problems in their children as a reflection of themselves, and therefore something that is wrong in them, or something they did wrong as parents. In children with ADD, this is specifically not the case. However, the urge to self-protect, even when misdirected, is a powerful one.

ADD is often hereditary. This means that the parent could have ADD too. Therefore, parents, in comparing their children to themselves (a device that often prevents us as parents from getting the best for our children), don’t see any problem, even if others do.

Also the perceived solution to the problem may be seen as so terrible that it is best to exclude the possibility of the problem, therefore excluding the solution as well. For ADD, this solution (often seen as unavoidable in treating the problem) is usually Ritalin, or one of the other stimulant-based drugs. This concern is valid. These drugs often have serious physiological and psychological side effects, and to control the ADD, must be taken for life. However, it is imperative for parents to know that this is not the only solution! More on that later.

As scary as the possibility of the problem may be, the most protective thing to do as a parent is to see if its there, and if so, treat it.

We said at the beginning that denial, although understandable, might actually make the problem worse. What do we mean by this? First, each academic year builds on the previous years’ foundation, therefore, the longer the testing and treatment (if necessary) is delayed, the increasingly harder school will get. Secondly, children act out of their forming self-image. If their experience at school and elsewhere teaches them that they are “not smart” (actually people with ADD tend to have higher than average intelligence), or are “trouble-makers”, they will increasingly see themselves as such and act accordingly. Finally, practicing denial, in turn teaches denial and the consequent hopelessness and giving up that are toxic to growth, achievement, and success in life for the child.

We mentioned that medication is not the only effective treatment for ADD. There is a treatment that corrects the problem for life, as well as adding a sense of self-determination and success for the child. This method of treatment is Neurofeedback, an effective, drug free, painless procedure in which the child leams to re-train the attention mechanisms of their brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.

To request information on the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD), Mild to Moderate Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sleep Disorders, Chronic Depression, Chronic Anxiety, and Peak Performance Training contact:

Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari
Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback
1075 Yorba Place
Suite 105
Placentia, CA 92870


Orange County ADHD Treatment & ADHD Symptom Expert