The Rise of ADHD

Posted: June 8, 2014 in Education

Cheshire Cat

*The picture above depicts Alice’s encounter with the Cheshire cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Replace Alice with any teacher and the cat with a school’s administration and you’ve got a similar conversation. I think all teachers must be a little mad for selecting a teaching career – said in jest, of course*

In 2013, the New York Times published an article entitled, “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder” (Alan Schwarz). The lengthy article immediately tackles the issue of over-diagnosis. In the span of 24 years, the number of cases of ADHD has soared from 600,000 to 3.5 million, which Dr. Keith Connors (ADHD Specialist) claims is a “national disaster of dangerous proportions.” The article then shifts seamlessly into a discussion regarding the profitability of the medication on young students with the promises of helping them in school. The article is quick to point out that the disorder is legitimate, but that it only affects about 5-10% of children and the medication does help.

Are the drug companies to blame or is it that we’re just more aware of the disorder now than ever before?

It’s scary to think, though, about the hold that the drug companies have on our youth, as the article explains: “Shire – a longtime market leader with several ADHD medications – recently subsidized 50,000 copies of a comic book that tries to…use superheroes to tell children: Medicines may make it easier to pay attention and control your behavior!

My friend’s child was recently diagnosed with ADHD (at the age of 10) and he told me that there was much discussion with his wife on whether or not their child truly suffered with the disorder or that, perhaps, he was simply a curious and adventurous young boy. Then let’s argue that his son has the disorder, the next worry is that the medication kills the creativity, curiosity, and sense of adventure. Is that really better? Now, in current discussions with my friend, he admits that his son is dealing with the disorder and that the right medication has had a tremendous effect on his performance at school with no risk to killing his son’s sense of wonder.

Could it still be that children are over-diagnosed? Everyone seems to have it.

Students, these days, are constantly technologically-stimulated because that’s the life they have grown up in and have become accustomed to. They are used to efficiency at the expense of accuracy/mindfulness, a TV or computer or cell phone that is always on, and a plethora of ads and trends pulling them in different directions. Then, try sitting them down in an 80-min class and you’d think that the majority of students have ADHD…This creates boredom, which creates stress, which creates an outburst of energy and then…a diagnosis.

There is certainly a rise in ADHD and anxiety. I am not entirely convinced they are all legitimate. Do we not all deal with times of anxiousness and times where we’ve lost our focus and need to expel some energy? Did we not just learn how to handle those situations and grow from them? Maybe it’s not that simple…

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