Whilst testing negative for fluoride. it appears that Whanganui water may well be contaminated with ADHD if the latest reports are anything to go by.

Hospital officials have questioned the findings, referring to them as an error but with no proof that family GPs aren't the ones responsible for the alleged sharp increase in the prescribing of drugs like Ritalin, we can only guess as to what could be the cause.

Though confident that the condition known as ADHD does exist I am somewhat sceptical that such a dramatic surge in the use of such drugs is based on accurate, clinical diagnoses.

I've watched many a documentary on this topic, where parents have used the affliction as nothing more than an excuse for less than ideal parenting.


The testing undertaken was very detailed and involved top experts in their fields. It included home visits to study the child's behaviour and general family interaction and dynamics, sleep patterns, the studying of hidden camera footage and rigorous testing by child psychologists.

In a world where we are seemingly content to play the blame game, this currently "on trend" diagnosis provides the perfect excuse for some mums and dads to avoid the cold hard truth about their parenting skills or lack thereof.

It's so much easier to explain the problem away by demonising something or someone else, not to mention that having a child with a disorder of some sort has almost, dare I say it, become fashionable.

So many of our kids these days are literally left to their own devices, tablets, computers, phones and consoles: devices that many parents are sadly allowing kids to use like surrogate nannies and babysitters.

Chuck them a bag of Doritos, a can of Coke and connect them to wifi and you're almost guaranteed at least two hours of peace and quiet.

We all know that kids crave attention and although sad, we also know that kids will behave badly as a means of seeking attention, even though it may be negative ... the focus is all on them.

So how can you tell the difference between a child that has a genuine case of ADHD and a child who is just deficient of parental attention?

Ask yourself these highly unscientific questions:

Is your evil spawn capable of playing disturbingly violent games online for hours at a time?

Can they post endless twaddle on social networking sites, interacting well with their peers and "friends"?

Are they little well-behaved angels for other family members but not you?

Do their real world friends want to spend time with them?

Can their behaviour be modified with a little trusty blackmail ... say the promise of KFC for dinner if they just sit down and shut up for an hour?

If you answered yes to all or most of the above, chances are you fall into the "crap parent" category.

The good news is there's no such thing as a perfect parent so don't despair. It's never too late for change.

Rather than seeking out unwarranted prescriptions your efforts would be better invested in spending quality one on one time with your child. Learn what they love and what excites them and reap the rewards of acknowledging and sharing their passion.

And if the new figures are correct and GPs are indeed writing scripts willy-nilly, with no definitive testing, shame on you.

■ Kate Stewart is a politically incorrect columnist of no repute. investik8@gmail.com