Too good to be true

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is...

We are continually flooded with the latest breakthrough and it can be difficult to sift truth from reality.  Marketing and PR can be slick and can catch you unaware. 

You can only make the best decision for you and your family, when fully informed.  A testimony from someone on facebook, while it looks good on the surface might not be right for you. 

The issue

There are many treatments and interventions available for learning and attention conditions, like ADHD and LD. Some have a strong evidence-base and are likely to be effective. Others have little or no scientific evidence to support them and are likely to be ineffective and possibly even harmful.

The solution

There are a number of signs that indicate that a treatment or intervention is likely to be ineffective. When teachers and parents are evaluating a treatment/intervention be on the look out for the following signs.  Not all treatments/interventions are considered equal in efficiency or efficacy.  While some clearly exhibit reasons for caution, there are some effective treatments/interventions which might cause you to pause for thought. 

It is important to take a cautious approach and not accept claims at face value.

What to look out for...


  • claim to be effective for a wide range of problems.
  • claim to be a new breakthrough, or likely to produce immediate results.
  • evidence provided as support includes anecdotes and testimonials, without supporting scientific studies.
  • there is only one study that supports the intervention/treatment or supporting studies do not include comparisons with other intervention/treatment.
  • there is no connection or a tenuous connection between the treatment and the challenge it addresses.
  • the people who are selling the intervention/treatment are the same people completing the assessment to decide if the intervention/treatment is effective.
  • the intervention/treatment is not supported by established understanding of the problem it addresses: for example visual problems treated as an intervention for reading difficulty.
  • professional bodies with relevant expertise do not support the intervention/treatment.
  • those promoting the intervention claim it is being suppressed by medical or educational authorities.
  • the intervention/treatment is promoted through infomercials, or self-promoting websites and books.
  • the claims make a play on emotion rather than reason.
  • there has been legal action over the intervention/treatment.

What you can do

The internet can be a maze of information, here are a few key questions to help you on the journey. 

These question are also designed for you to ask before starting any new treatment or intervention for learning and attentional conditions, like ADHD / LD. Consider them as part of your advocacy toolkit.

  1. What is the scientific research, has it been published in peer reviewed journals?
  2. Does the treatment/intervention have broad expert scientific consensus, consistent with existing knowledge?
  3. Is there adequate supporting evidence, has its efficacy been tested against similar treatments/interventions?
  4. What other options are there for this learning and/or attention disorder?
  5. What are the possible side effects?
  6. Exactly what changes will I see in the child if the treatment/intervention is successful?
  7. How long will these changes take?
  8. How much will it cost, now and in the future (can you afford it)?

L A D S advocates for a multi modal approach, involving evidence based and peer reviewed treatments and interventions.

LADDER provides information of a general nature and is for information and educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice.


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