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Bottom line: the trend Warner's research uncovered is that it isn't that too many children are diagnosed with fake psychiatric ailments, but that too few children and adolescents (only 30 percent, according to one source) are receiving the help they require to cope with very real mental health ailments—disorders that, left untreated, have the power to impair their psychological, educational, social, and medical well-being. Far from being "bad" parents who'd rather push a pill than spend time with their kids, the mothers and fathers Warner spoke to devoted most of their time (and money) trying to find treatments that worked and battling for aid from budget-strapped healthcare and educational systems. Further, they almost always viewed psychotropic medications as a last (not first) resort, a necessary stabilizer that would allow their kids to benefit from other kinds of therapy and enjoy a more normal life. She was even told point-blank by psychologist and AD/HD authority Edward Hallowell: "I don't know who these parents are, these lazy neglectful parents. . . . I've not met them. I think they're a fiction. I see parents who are working full-time and also trying to do their best for their children."
These observations were revelations for Warner. Her "aha" moment also led to self-reflection. She wondered: how could she have been so easily duped into believing the myths and stereotypes she'd been served up by sensationalized media reports and playground parents who were as ill-informed as she? Why had she so readily accepted these assumptions at face value—a cardinal sin for any skeptical journalist worth her salt? And how many other people were suffering from similar misconceptions?
That's when she decided to recast her initial premise and present instead an investigation of the complex realities that contradict the simplistic myths she herself had fallen for. At the same time, she would explore why so many people would prefer not to question those myths. Instead of an exposŽ, her book would serve as a necessary corrective to the public's (and her own) misperceptions. The particular message to parents, as well as to caregivers and public health policymakers would be: look at the actual psychological and psychiatric issues affecting each child. Don't rule out the use of medications altogether just because they're medications. Rather, just as you would with any other type of behavioral or psychological therapy, examine carefully and judge case by case which treatments—alone, or in conjunction with others—are successful, and which ones less so. Most important, make the priority helping the children, not getting lost in polemics.