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“Free” cars, the Daily Mail, Radio 2.

A representative of AADD UK was on BBC Radio 2 this afternoon, albeit rather briefly. It was to take part in a discussion about the Motability Scheme and whether or not people with ADHD get free cars and was set off by a couple of particularly disingenuous articles in the Daily Mail, one of which is referred to in the post below.

We got the call rather late, so only made a brief appearance, but hopefully it was a significant one. If you’d like to listen iplayer has it for seven days from the date this is posted. A summary of the show is here and it is on iplayer here. Be warned, it is a really long programme (two hours) and we only appear for a few seconds about 46 minutes in, and you may find one or two of the comments on before a bit annoying.

A website (www.fullfact.org) gives a detailed analysis of the fact-bending that went on to get to the manufactured outrage the Mail’s editor was looking for so we won’t go into detail, but we’ll just make a few points.

  1. The department that gave out the figures were not able to separate children that have ADHD only, and nothing else from children that have ADHD along with something else, a ‘co-morbidity’ as it is called. The article only referred to parents of children with ADHD, as usual forgetting that adults can have it too. ADHD often occurs on its own, but just as often occurs with other problems too. The children so cruelly criticised in the newspaper have other problems such as severe epilepsy, autism and cerebral palsy along with ADHD. Yet the Daily Mail reports it an outrage that these children’s parents get help with transporting them to school and the other activities of childhood because they also have ADHD.
  2. The total number of people who get Disability Living Allowance was reported as if that is the number of people who get “free cars” when actually there are several levels of Disability Living Allowance and only at the top level can get a car. Children with only ADHD don’t get the top level.
  3. The whole “free BMW” thing is utter nonsense. The cars have to be leased out of the Allowance. You can get a BMW if you like, but you don’t get any extra money. You have to pay the difference yourself.
  4. If you read the FullFact.org article you’ll see that actually the maximum number of people who get a subsidy to buy are a car is, at the absolute maximum, not even 100.
  5. Even then, picking up point 1, the children that get the Allowance don’t just have ADHD but are have other debilitating problems so the likelihood is that no one at all gets the full Allowance for ADHD i.e no cars are subsidised because of ADHD.
  6. Okay, we know people with ADHD can be impulsive, it is one of the symptoms, but please try really hard not to rush out and ask for a free BMW!

It seems that ADHD is being used, once again, as an easy target for ‘journalists’ who don’t seem able to make the effort find any real news.

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