Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Making of A.D.D./A.D.H.D. another perspective besides the Savannah analogy & techology

POLITICS AND NEWS
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The Making of A.D.D./A.D.H.D.

I want to offer another perspective on the origins of this much diagnosed disorder, besides the Savannah analogy and the effect of technology, both old “saws” recently offered in an NY Times Opinion piece.  The Savannah theory holds that the DNA of those with the disorder is really a genetic throwback to hunters, whose”hyper” qualities […]
adhd
I want to offer another perspective on the origins of this much diagnosed disorder, besides the Savannah analogy and the effect of technology, both old “saws” recently offered in an NY Times Opinion piece.  The Savannah theory holds that the DNA of those with the disorder is really a genetic throwback to hunters, whose”hyper” qualities enhanced survival. The effect of technology, speeding up young minds, an occasion for hand-wringing, has no change in sight.
I want to underscore some practical history. At the end of the 19th century, many schools started girls in kindergarten at 5 and boys at 7. Now we know the part of the brain that governs understanding of social systems develops later in boys. Without the capacity to scan brains, educators observed that boys were “fidgety,”better able to deal with school at at a later age. Rather than assuming it was a deficit in boys, the schools made requirements fit children.
tom-sawyer
Consider also that great 20th century classic, Tom Sawyer, a figure Twain considered the prototypical American boy with the restless entrepreneurial spirit of his young country. Tom Sawyer was more than fidgety, he lied and swore, he cut class, and, when there disrupted it–behind his teacher’s back. Today, he would be drugged for ADD/ADHD, he would be in “special” classes and in therapy for defiant behavior syndrome. His behavior would be considered off the “normal” chart and perhaps on the autistic scale, because of his constant collections of bottle caps, rocks, whatever he could trade.
In the mid 20th century, before the diagnosis and labeling of children for easier classroom management, there were dedicated teachers who went into the profession with the idea of reaching every child in a classroom–no matter how difficult or disruptive. The movie, “To Sir With Love” was a popular 1960’s tale of a black teacher in a hard-luck English classroom, who inspired kids to turn their lives around..
My great aunt, a public school teacher until the late 1970’s, considered the “bored” and alienated her biggest challenge. Before retiring, she lamented that the student teachers, who worked with her, were schooled to teach a very narrow segment of kids and to refer for evaluation all who posed challenges. As the medical and educational sectors merged, children who did not fit the narrow categories for success–based mostly on academic progress–learned to think of themselves as not just failures but disabled people, who had to be “fixed” with drugs.
Consider the late 1960’s, when the U.S. battled Russia in the space race. Money was poured into science after-school programs. There were garage computer labs, which acted as  incubators for the innovative science that became our computer industry. And of course, many of the kids, who lived for after school, were “bored” in school. There was also money for art, drama and music now rare in public schools–though sports continues as the accepted outlet in wealthier districts.

inside of classroom
In 2014, we have schools increasingly focused on academics with conformity to the Common Core. There is scarce money for Art, Music, Science that’s inspiring. Though it’s been shown that kids, when engaged emotionally, can do intellectual work to equal adults, they are considered unusually “gifted.” Instead kids that don’t conform are labelled and treated, and their potential is compromised. Worse yet, anxiety, which is very common, is often misdiagnosied as ADD/A.D.H.D. Very few schools, where referrals are made by teachers with little psych training, and psychologists/psychiatrists, do brain scans to confirm this diagnosis.

And the stimulants used for ADD/A.D.H.D. are a disaster for kids who actually have anxiety. But rather than thinking of alternatives to drugs, when classroom management is the main goal, psychiatrists proscribe “toppers” to calm them down. Though the drugs often come with suicidal thoughts and are admitted to block creative thought, specifically drawing ability, this cocktail is widely disseminated.

So where does our next generation of innovators come from to invent new industries and inspire a skilled work force? Not in a United States, where a generation of children suffer the stigma of labels. Worse yet, little research has been done on the long-terms affect of drug cocktails on growing brains. Managing a classroom for convenience is a choice that has impoverished the lives and futures of children, their families, and our nation. You have only to look at The Economist’s comparison of the U.S. and Britain, where only 2 out 10 boys are diagnosed to the U.S.’s staggering 8 out of 10. In Britain, the treatment is cognitive therapy, in the classroom and home, with a 98%  success rate.
Susan I. Weinstein, author and playwright, is working on a new play, “The Making of ADD/ADHD.” 

 http://maglomaniac.com/making-adhd/