unPHILtered – Phil Ponce's Blog

Does ADHD Really Exist?

No, says the author of a new book, Dr. Richard Saul.  Saul has spent five decades working with thousands of patients diagnosed with ADHD.  While he says that attention deficit and hyperactivity really exist, they are not a diagnosis, but symptoms.  And these symptoms, he argues, are often the result of about twenty different conditions and disorders that can be treated–often without medication.

Some of those symptoms and disorders include vision problems, sleep disorders, learning disabilities, OCD — or something as simple as a bright child who’s bored at school.

He says manys doctors find it much less time-consuming and easier to make a diagnosis of ADHD than to explore what else might be going on.

In the meantime, the millions of false diagnoses, he argues, result in unncecessary prescriptions and a delay in finding the root cause of the problem.  Bottom line:  he says only about 5% of the people diagnosed with ADHD actually warrant medication.

Saul’s book is provocative.  Any parent of a child who’s been diagnosed with ADHD might want to read it.  Watch the interview below and read an excerpt from the book here.

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Still Time to Enter the Tribune/Ponce Cartoon Caption Contest!

Phil Ponce cartoon 021714

What is one rat saying to the other in this Chicago alley?  You decide!

If you haven’t already entered the Chicago Tribune caption contest for the cartoon that Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis asked me to come up with, there is still time.

You can go to www.chicagotribune.com/caption and click on the email link and leave a caption as a comment. Or you can email directly to the contest at: ctc-captions@tribune.com.

The deadline is tomorrow, Friday, March 21 at noon.  So, don’t dally.

And remember, the winner will be acknowledged on the air next week on Chicago Tonight.  So, submit your caption and get a chance to achieve glory on your Window to the World!

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Tribune Cartoon Caption Contest With Guest Artist Phil Ponce

Phil Ponce cartoon 021714

Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis invited me to be a guest artist this week, so I came up with the above cartoon (I did the drawing, Scott masterfully added the color and the shading.)

What could one rat be saying to the other in this Chicago alley?  I haven’t a clue, but you might!

So log onto this Tribune link, follow the easy-to-follow instructions, and BAM, you are a part of Chicago history.  (The cartoon will also come out in Wednesday’s Tribune print version.)

Grand WTTW prize?  It’s a doozy.  The winner’s name will be announced next week on Chicago Tonight.  So enter a caption and be in the running to achieve Chicago Tonight glory!

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Just. Don’t. Fall.

Like many of you, my blood pressure and anxiety go up as I’m watching skaters, skiers and snowboarders during the Olympics.  I just don’t want them to fall or crash.  And it doesn’t matter to me what country they’re from.

When I think of all the work, preparation and sacrifice every single one of those competitors has gone through, I truly want each performer to do his or her best.  I think not only of the competitor but his parents and family.  It’s great if someone you care about wins something, but more importantly you want them to be judged on the basis of what they’re truly capable of, not on a slip of the blade or a rough spot on the ice.

And is it just me or are the snowboarders and others involved in “slopestyle” and “X game” type events giving the Olympics a breath of fresh air?  They really seem to be having fun and to have a special camraderie, no matter what team they’re on.  I get the impression they’re genuinely pulling for each other.  Makes me pull for each of them all the more.

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The Mark of a Great “Chicago Tonight” Guest

We interview literally hundreds of people a year on Chicago Tonight.  Just about every guest is pleasant, professional and has something interesting to say (why else would we have them on?!)

One mark of a special guest, though, is when a guest impresses the studio crew–the camera operators and floor director.  These co-workers of mine have very good detectors for someone who’s full of it and for people who are the real deal.  If a guest is gracious to people he can choose to ignore, that always says something.

This week, we had a guest who got a big thumbs up from the crew after the interview.  Nathan Gunn is an established opera star.  He has talent, brains and matinee idol good looks.  And he has an unaffected midwestern affability about him that reflects his roots in South Bend and his current base in Urbana-Champaign.

When Gunn left the studio, studio crew members talked about what a good guy he was. (At this point in a blog, my former colleague John Callaway would be saying something sardonic like, “Aside from his talent, brains and looks, he’s got nothing going for him!”)

Opera stars are used to getting reviews from music critics; they matter in a singer’s career.  But to my mind, the most important reviews are often the ones that are never published, but are spoken when a star has left the premises.

In case you missed it, here’s the interview with Gunn and his rousing rendition of the signature song from the opera in which he’s currently starring at Lyric, The Barber of Seville.

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In Praise of the Humble Laundry Basket

phil snow

For years now, I have had a thing about laundry baskets.  I think they’re about the most versatile item ever.  I have used them to:

  • store outdoor plants temporarily when I’m transplanting them
  • as a container for newspapers before I recycle them
  • as a container for long-term storage (books, clothes, electronics, etc.)
  • in lieu of a suitcase when I go on driving trips

This last use is one that has been a source of mild embarrassment for family members: “There’s dad carrying his laundry basket into the Days Inn–tacky, tacky, tacky.”  I agree it is not elegant, but it makes packing shoes, clothing and my personal pillow so much easier than having to zip everything up tightly in a standard rolling suitcase.  (No, I’ve never used one on a plane.)

This past weekend, I was babysitting my granddaughter.  It had snowed but it wasn’t too cold.  I thought she needed an outing around the block, but I had no stroller or sled.  Then I noticed the laundry basket holding shoes in the mudroom.  Hmm.   The rest, as they say, is history.  When he saw the above photo, son Anthony texted: “An instant classic.”  What can I say?  He has a good eye.

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Even the Great Ones Can Have a Bad Day at the Office

Much of the hype leading up to yesterday’s game was about Peyton Manning and the fact that he is one of the all-time great quarterbacks in NFL history.  Did he need a win yesterday to cement that reputation?  Probably not.

But he was clearly the subject of great expectations; expectations he failed to meet.  (Give credit to Seattle’s defense.)

This year, Manning has been at the top of his game.  No one disputes that.  But whether you’re an elite athlete, musician, bond-trader or bricklayer, every now and then you can have a bad day at work.  For us mere mortals, not that many people notice when we screw up.  Manning’s misfortune is that his bad day was viewed by millions of people, although much fewer at the end of the game, I suspect, than at the beginning (Downton Abbey had excellent ratings.)

I hope that all of us are judged not on the basis of our “worst day at the office” but on the totality of what we do.  Prometheus stumbled; Peyton did, too.  Manning’s human, and so are the rest of us.

Having said that, I thought the great Renee Fleming was spectacular singing the national anthem.  And so was half-time dynamo Bruno Mars.  But then again, they didn’t have Seattle’s defense swarming them.

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Fear Before the Super Bowl

It goes without saying that the Super Bowl has gone well beyond a mere sports event.  For all intents and purposes, it is an unofficial national holiday and cultural event, with parties, attention on the commercials and on the half-time entertainment.

But the game of football itself may be showing signs of vulnerability.  A new NBC News/WSJ poll shows that many Americans are afraid of football concussions.  According to that poll, 40 percent of Americans want their children playing any sport other than football.  The new awareness (and fear) of the dangers of concussion and of repeated small hits is especially strong among parents with higher levels of education and income.

Another possible reflection of that fear:  in recent years, Pop Warner, the country’s biggest youth football program, has seen a drop in participation of almost 10 percent.

This comes as football players at Northwestern are seeking to form a labor union to earn a place at the table to discuss key issues like medical care and health consequences which arise long after a player’s career is over.

Bottom line:  the game is in a state of flux.  Down the road, it could become a game that attracts as players mostly those from poor families with lower levels of education, awareness, and options.  And even if the collegiate unionization effort fails, it’s a shot across the bow from players who want a greater say in what happens to their bodies and their futures.  We talked about the unionization effort on last night’s show.

This should give all of us who watch Sunday’s game much more to munch on then just guacamole and chips.

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This Weather!!!

How many times in the past few days have you thought, said, or heard someone else say, “I. Am. So. Over. This. Weather.”  Count me in that group.  And if one of your chores is to shovel snow, the prospect of even more snow this weekend is, well, draining.

I’ve been trying to rationalize my way out of feeling bummed out about how painfully cold it’s been and the best I can come up with is this:

  • There’s no city I’d rather live in than Chicago.  I love it.
  • All good things come at a price.
  • This weather is the price we pay for living here.

Simplistic, I know.  But there it is.

When discussing this with my esteemed Chicago Tonight colleague, Paris Schutz, he optimistically said, “It just means we’re going to have a great summer and we will appreciate it that much more and not take it for granted.”    Cold comfort now, young Skywalker.  Cold comfort!

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Flu Hubris

Like many people, I dutifully got a flu shot last fall knowing that it wasn’t a guarantee against getting sick–just a safeguard.  And a couple of weeks ago, I got a mild bug that put me out of sorts for about twelve hours–chills and a headache.  But a good night’s sleep seemed to take care of it.  I thought my flu season was over.

But, in the past week, several family members got a much worse stomach bug, one that went well beyond mere chills and a headache.  While making trips to the drugstore for them for flu medicine (and Gatorade!) I mentally patted myself on the back for having avoided a case as bad as theirs.

Ha!  Pride goeth before the fall (or something like that.)  After Tuesday night’s show, I drove home and I could feel chills coming on.  I had a hunch something bad was coming so I barely ate any dinner.  My hunch was right as another bug, much more powerful than the one I had earlier, kept me up all night.  And yesterday I was miserable–a headache, muscle aches and cold sweats.  The cats didn’t know what to make of me curled up on the couch during the day (“Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”)

I’m a lousy and pathetic sick person.  Now it was my turn to have someone bring me medicine and Gatorade.  While at the height of my flusteria, my wife assured me that I would feel much better in 24 hours.  She was right.  I am feeling much better.

And I’m completely confident it couldn’t possibly happen again this winter.  I’m sure of it.  Truly.  You believe me, don’t you?

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