The Truth About ADHD and Public Schools

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posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 03:22 PM
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Greetings, ATS!

As most of you know, I’m a teacher. Well, in the last couple of years I’ve noticed a disturbing trend develop in my school (and I believe it’s a wide-spread trend). I’m referring to the rise of ADHD diagnosis in young children.

So I thought I’d take the bull by the horns and address a very controversial topic….the facts about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and the problems I’m seeing with children in school.

First of all, let’s define ADHD. It is a real diagnosis, with consistent symptoms. Here is a list of the most prevalent symptoms of ADHD, which can manifest at any age.

• Difficulty paying attention to details, careless mistakes, inability to complete a task, messy or sloppy work
• Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli, often interrupts work to attend to trivial noises, etc.
• Inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities, even when said activity is enjoyable
• Difficulty performing tasks that require focus and attention, such as school work
• Frequent shifts from one activity to another, leaving the activities incomplete
• Disorganized work habits
• Forgetfulness in daily habits (ex: forgets to bring lunch)
• Failure to complete tasks, such as homework or chores
• Frequent shifts in conversation, inability to listen to others, unable to follow rules or conventions

Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms:
• Fidgeting, squirming, inability to be still
• Getting up frequently to walk around the room, unable to sit for any length of time
• Running or climbing excessively when inappropriate
• Inability or difficulty playing quietly
• Excessive talking
• Always “on the go”


So there are the symptoms of ADHD. Now, I’d like to share with you the trend in diagnosing ADHD in young children.

According to CDC, for children aged 3-17 in the US, approximately 5 million are diagnosed with ADHD. Boys (12%) are more than twice as likely than girls (5%) to be diagnosed.

Also, according to CDC, diagnosis of ADHD has increased an average of 3% each year, beginning with the year 1997 and ending with 2009 (date of most recent report).

The US Surgeon General reports that approximately 3-5% of school-age children have ADHD. With the current US school population of 46.6 million public school children, this works out to between 1.4-2.3 million children with ADHD.


Now, I’d like to switch gears for a moment and talk about the physical activity level in the average public school. To understand this, we first have to look at the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandate.
NCLB sounds great; it requires that every student demonstrate growth on standardized tests. The problem, though, is that standardized tests are not the best indicator of a child’s learning. And schools whose test scores do not meet the requirements find themselves facing budget cuts and the possibility of the school being closed. To compensate for the lack of academic achievement, these schools tend to marginalize all subjects that are not tested to focus more on tested subjects. Which means social studies, science, and specials (creative arts, music, physical ed) are the first subjects to be shortened. Another activity sometimes deemed “unnecessary” is recess. Schools struggling to make standardized testing mandates often reduce or even eliminate the amount of recess given to students.

So, how does shortening or eliminating PE and recess effect students? I’ll sum it up with information from a scholarly article on the subject:

• Five studies consistently show that more time in physical education and other school-based physical activity programs does not adversely affect academic performance.

• In some cases, more time in physical education leads to improved grades and standardized test scores.

• Physically active and fit children tend to have better academic achievement.

• There are several possible mechanisms by which physical education and regular physical activity could improve academic achievement, including enhanced concentration skills and classroom behavior.
So, based on this study (and countless others), we know that daily physical education improves students’ academic abilities and behavior. We also know that increased PE would help fight obesity. Yet despite this, schools who are struggling to make NCLB guidelines are shortening the amount of time spent in PE.

Now let’s turn our attention to recess. PE and recess are fundamentally different. Recess is unstructured play time, which children need to have in order to develop social and emotional skills. It also allows children to relieve stress and let off steam. Studies show that recess, just like PE, increases student achievement and performance. Yet, also like PE, schools considered “in need of improvement” tend to shorten recess in order to spend more time on academic material.

This is where the Law of Diminishing Returns comes in to play. Basically, in every school there is a point when you’ve pushed the students to their maximum potential, and to push further will only result in negative results. By reducing PE and recess and increasing time spent on academics, many schools find themselves actually losing academic ground.

So, what does all of this have to do with ADHD? It is my contention, based on my own observations as an educator, that SOME of the students diagnosed with ADHD are, in fact, simply in need of more physical stimulation.

In the years I’ve taught, I’ve noticed an increase in diagnosing young children with ADHD. Parents and teachers alike are quick to suggest the child may be ADHD, when in fact what the child really needs is more physical activity. Take another look at those symptoms of ADHD….and think about how you feel when you go hours without a break. I know I get the fidgets, lose my ability to focus, etc when I don’t have a break. Yet, schools routinely expect children to sustain high focus for hours with only minimal breaks for physical activity.
Now, this is not to say that every child with ADHD has been misdiagnosed. My own son is ADHD, and it is very obvious when he’s not taken his medication. He simply cannot focus, cannot be still, cannot learn. He started kindergarten last year, we took him to the doctor and he was given medicine (non-narcotic) towards the end of the year. I held him back, so he’s in kindergarten again this year, and the difference is night and day. So there are children who truly have this condition.




posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 03:22 PM
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So, what do you do if your child’s teacher suggests your child might have a problem with attention? First of all, ask about the amount of PE and recess on any given day. Also, ask if the teacher uses “brain breaks” and “movement breaks” throughout the day. For example, when I notice my students are starting to squirm or lose focus, we take a five minute break and dance to youtube videos. Even just five minutes can make a huge difference in how the child focuses and behaves.

Now, I’ve left out a lot of information about ADHD, brain development, medication, and more, but I fear this may be too long for most people anyway. So if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I might not know the answer, but I’m more than happy to try and find one for you.

Sources
Recess

stats

ADHD
edit on 28-1-2013 by smyleegrl because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 03:50 PM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


Good thread.

I can't imagine how my 10 year old's 4'th grade teacher deals with all those kids day in day out. She and other elementary school teachers should be nominated for saint hood!

Sure would be easier on her just to medicate the kids into submission.......




posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 03:53 PM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


Very well put together my friend!

Love the information you have presented.

I didn't realize that many children were diagnosed.

My friends child was diagnosed with ADHD and was told he needed to be put on medication.

My friends declined and actually moved back near me. They were in Bozeman, Montana.

Come to find out, he is extremely smart and was just bored to tears in his classes. So he would get bored and be bad.

He is now home schooled and doing fantastic!

Seems big pharma wants majority of our little ones doped up... Just my opinion.

Peace and love
~ nat~
edit on 28-1-2013 by natalia because: Spelling



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:00 PM
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I think a small minority of kids have a genuine brain disfunction, but the rest who are put under this umbrella label of "adhd" are simply being as they are, and the social institution doesn't much like it.

How is it that giving legal speed to people with slight brain dysfunction makes it all go away
Surely there is better treatment options in 2013.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:07 PM
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Although I agree with the overarching argument, I believe that the misdiagnosis of any children is just a statistical certainty. Continuing examination of this issue like other issues which can affect children's education and their life can only be for the best. There was a time when this sort of support did not occur and ADHD was not recognised as an issue, sort of like dyslexia. In both cases, misdiagnosis will occur. I just don't feel that the impact of such has an overly negative effect in contrast to the support that is provided to children who have such needs. In short, overall I feel that such policies have an overall positive effect and that is what matters.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:13 PM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


S&F!

My mother is teaching a 4th and 5th grade combo this year because the school is two students short of a complete second 5th grade class. Needless to say, she's contemplating retiring at the end of the year. Everyone wants great education for our kids, but no one wants to pay for it.

She's basically echoed the same points you've mentioned in this topic. She's also not sure if enviromental factors these days might also add to problem. I think this ADD/ADHD thing is multi-faceted, and a combination of factors are contributing.

Let's not forget that the drug companies are pushing their products straight to the consumer these days. It's easier to shove a pill down a kids throat than admit that our system is screwed up to save money.

IMO, teachers should hold one of the highest respected roles in society. Without teachers, who would teach future doctors and scientists?

In order to build a sturdy house, you have to have a solid foundation. Teachers give youngsters (or try to) that foundation for a sucessful life. If we skimp on that, we are only shooting ourselves in the foot.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:15 PM
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Well, I am 43 years old and finally officially diagnosed with ADD.

Physical activity does help relieve the symptoms of ADD/ADHD somewhat, but the monkey is still on the back, just a little smaller.

I have been taking Strattera for 15 days now, even though it's not the best medication out there compared to stimulants, it does have benefits that exercise cannot match. Like feeling awake, and 'with it' shortly after I get out of bed, instead of feeling tired and brain fogged all day until noon.

Sure, lack of exercise and no breaks can somewhat manifest as ADD/ADHD, but some of us have the genuine affliction.

ADHD/ADD is NOT fun, unless being called dumb, spacey, burnt, etc. is fun, fun for the bully though.
Pay attention to the ADD kids, the ones who are not hyper (without the 'H', like me) they fall through the cracks and are un-diagnosed and get out after school to a world of lifelong failure and struggle and substance use.

The ADD kids look like they are listening, but they did not register a damn thing, like Homer Simpson thinking about chocolate 'Mmmmm, Chocolate'


Exercise ain't gonna help those kids, but may help the lazy unfit kids.

I know a couple kids who play computer games on all there free time, they come down the stairs rubbing their eyes and looking like they just got out of bed. A lot of kids these days get a lot of exercise, but much more concentrated, all in the fingers. The rest of their bodies turn to mush.
So if they are not getting exercise in school, they are not getting exercise anywhere.

When I was a kid, all summer I would leave the house in the morning and be back at suppertime after running around all day, I had no computer or video games to play, but I would sit down to a nice Don Martin comic book.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:21 PM
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I'd also like to point out that it is NORMAL for someone to be bored or not pay attention when they don't think they're being taught properly. No offense, smiley, but the educational system isn't fit to find out all the kids with higher aptitudes who need a different learning environment to remain on task.

My guess is that 3/5 of these kids need more physical activity, 1/5 needs a different learning environment, and 1/5 has a true disability that may be best treated with speed.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:29 PM
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This all sounds like normal behavior for kids and adults so when did this behavior become a problem. We are a fast twiching society with comercials, media, radio, Internet, Iphones, Tablets etc...

Too bad by definition everyone has ADD, ADHD... so we might as well all get medictaed. We all have problems and must take our pills or whatever med is prescribed so we can function in this manmade system.

Personally, I choose to be a human being flaws and all... haven't had or needed meds, age 44 and don't need the doctor, give me a good dose of the Holy Spirt and Love for Jesus Christ and my path is more than satisfying...

I have two young children whom both have plenty of those personal chacteristics and yet I have had for a moment thought they had problems. I think of them as kids just exploring the world and trying to live within the box that society forces down our throats.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:31 PM
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hey, this is one of my fave topics, working as i do with adhd teens (amongst other diagnoses), and also as i feel i have a medium dose of add in my own make-up..
i dont have much time tonight, so i have not fully digested the thread but wanted to comment on my own experiences about what helps while i had a little time.

as a bit of back ground, i work in steiner/waldorf ed at a specialist "last chance" college for age 16+ students with aspergers, add/adhd, ocd, odd, edb and other acronyms, as well as those that have suffered abuse and neglect, we have a fairly wide range of abilities, but basicly we deal with mid to high functioning, as long as our students can communicate reasonably well one way or another... i know this is in a way quite different to mainstream ed, but regular schools could learn a lot from what we do and how we do it, and our advice and methods are increasingly sought out and recognised


our basic curriculum revolves around an apprenticeship model with a focus on arts and crafts and land work, and is therapeutic in it's intent, many students are residential with us as this allows a 24 hour curriculum and strong role modelling, as well as the availability of people who are not as emotionally attatched (or drained!) as their families are. general daytime lessons included things from various glass crafts, blacksmithing. woodland skills and management and a wide range of farming activites, interspersed with therapies, life skills, communication, literacy and vocation and independence/self reliance oriented training.

one of the keys to our success is the ability to give a lot of time and attention to students (3 to a class! a luxury compared to schools, i know), as well as strategy meetings and regular focuses on how to help individuals - we find that tailoring our communication and activities to each student's needs pays massive dividends, as well as ensuring that our students understand why they are doing things and how it will pay off for them.
students have bursts of focussed activity with regular time outs (as neeed) as well as places they can go to cool off when they get tired/irate/hyper etc, and plenty of people to mentor them, explain situations and allow them to sound off without annoying or aggravating each other too much

with the adhd students in particular, the physical activities and opportunities to make things with their hands and follow projects through that they can be justifiably proud of draws them away from distraction and allows them to develop their ability to focus for longer and longer periods, as well as facing the challenges of breaking/screwing up prohects and developing the will to keep going and try again without entering a rage everytime.. the sense of purpose they develop as their skills grow is another key to continued development.

i fond that not paying to much attention to horseplay really helps too, let them get it out of their system as appropriately as possible while not getting visibly annoyed, enjoying what makes them all unique and letting them feel valued..

i have kinda rambled a bit i know, but its a big subject and having spent a lot of time doing this it's impossible to get it in to one post, but i guess more may come out as the thread develops


best of luck with what you do, i would be happy to provide a sounding board top bounce ideas off, or be ranted at when the pressure gets a bit much, believe me, i know how hard it can be!

ETA: i agree on it's over diagnosis btw, sadly there seem to be quite a few lazy or uninformed dr's/social workers w/e out ther, and rather than tackling bad parenting in it's many guises or the ills of society, out comes the add/adhd diagnosis
edit on 28-1-2013 by skalla because: (no reason given)
edit on 28-1-2013 by skalla because: a little more clarity
edit on 28-1-2013 by skalla because: so many typos, so little time!


2nd ETA: i like what you said about dancing - some of our students benefit from a trip over the road to a park, to go on the swings, see-saws or just walking along walls to engage their balance - and we could be talikin about 18 yr old "tough" teens - it pays real dividends on bringing them back to focus and engagement
edit on 28-1-2013 by skalla because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:41 PM
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reply to post by unityemissions
 


It seems contradictory, but here's the reason they give stimulants to children with ADHD. Basically, the child's brain is actually under stimulated. So, in an effort to perform optimally, the brain compensates by bursts of activity and fidgeting. So, giving a child a stimulant allows the brain to stop compensating.

My son is not taking a stimulant; they have too many potential side effects. Instead, he's taking a blood pressure medicine that affects the same part of the brain. It works, too. We ran out of his medicine, only had one pill and we saved it for Monday so he'd have it for school. That Sunday he went without, and hoo-boy. That was a rough day.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:46 PM
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Originally posted by GoldenVoyager


Too bad by definition everyone has ADD, ADHD... so we might as well all get medictaed. We all have problems and must take our pills or whatever med is prescribed so we can function in this manmade system.


No, just NO!

Take a walk in my shoes lady and I'll show you what ADD is like.
Then you will eat your words.

Nobody has ADD/ADHD by definition.
When people say what you say, it's demeaning to those who struggle with the disorder.
It's not a joke!



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:46 PM
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I didn't mention this earlier, but there's another reason some parents push for an ADHD diagnosis. If a child has ADHD, you can apply for disability funds from the government. You have to be below a certain income level to get the money.

I've had parents try to tell me their child had ADHD, and I suspect it was for that reason (or to sell the drugs).

Only a doctor can diagnose it, but here's my litmus test. If a child is extremely interested in a topic and still can't be still, that's a telling symptom. If they can sit still and focus, then ADHD may not be the problem.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:48 PM
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Originally posted by Toadmund

Originally posted by GoldenVoyager


Too bad by definition everyone has ADD, ADHD... so we might as well all get medictaed. We all have problems and must take our pills or whatever med is prescribed so we can function in this manmade system.


No, just NO!

Take a walk in my shoes lady and I'll show you what ADD is like.
Then you will eat your words.

Nobody has ADD/ADHD by definition.
When people say what you say, it's demeaning to those who struggle with the disorder.
It's not a joke!


The students with ADD have it the hardest, in my opinion. They aren't behavior problems, instead they are extremely quiet and can easily get lost in the classroom. Because of this, these children are much harder to diagnose correctly. Often they get labeled as "learning disabled," when in fact they are quite intelligent, just have trouble focusing.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:51 PM
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Originally posted by unityemissions
I'd also like to point out that it is NORMAL for someone to be bored or not pay attention when they don't think they're being taught properly. No offense, smiley, but the educational system isn't fit to find out all the kids with higher aptitudes who need a different learning environment to remain on task.

My guess is that 3/5 of these kids need more physical activity, 1/5 needs a different learning environment, and 1/5 has a true disability that may be best treated with speed.


No offense taken. The public school system needs improvement, and the only way to do it is to be honest about where are problems lie.

And you're right. Kids learn in different ways. A good teacher will present lessons that target multiple learning styles, so that each child can understand the lesson. Not always easy to do, though.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:51 PM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 

Another test apparently is that if a stimulant med makes a kid drowsy, he/she has ADD/ADHD.

I tried ritalin as a kid for a short time, I was told it made me drowsy.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 04:55 PM
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Originally posted by smyleegrl
reply to post by unityemissions
 


It seems contradictory, but here's the reason they give stimulants to children with ADHD. Basically, the child's brain is actually under stimulated. So, in an effort to perform optimally, the brain compensates by bursts of activity and fidgeting. So, giving a child a stimulant allows the brain to stop compensating.


"under" stimulated? Says who? Why? Because they aren't into school work? How about you give them something to learn with their hands. It seems these kids are simply meant to learn tactily. Why are we forcing them to be something they're not? At what cost? I'm pretty sure we have a lot of science that says long term consumption of speed, legal or not, is detrimental to health. Introverts fire wild without much external stimuli. Extroverts don't. It seems these "adhd" are simply extreme extroverts. Leave them be.


My son is not taking a stimulant; they have too many potential side effects. Instead, he's taking a blood pressure medicine that affects the same part of the brain. It works, too. We ran out of his medicine, only had one pill and we saved it for Monday so he'd have it for school. That Sunday he went without, and hoo-boy. That was a rough day.


All I can say is I'm sooooo freaking glad that I will be home schooling. The assumptions the state uses to drug people up are lacking in common sense. I'm glad you haven't pushed meds onto your kid. I wonder why he needs blood pressure med?! Isn't that ... kinda young to have BP problems?? Not trying to pry, or imply that you're doing anything wrong, I simply was not aware that kids have BP issues. Is that common these days, too??



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 05:01 PM
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reply to post by GoldenVoyager
 


Just wanted to touch on the fast paced society issue.....

Do you know how hard it is to get a kid to slow down these days? Too much stimulation. The kids are focused to a knife's point it seems.

I find getting away somewhere to go camping under an unpolluted sky, enjoying a fire, and playing in the dirt does wonders for a kid's soul.



posted on Jan, 28 2013 @ 05:04 PM
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For someone with ADHD, stimulants regulate impulsive behavior and improve attention span and focus by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which help transmit signals between nerves.
reply to post by unityemissions
 


Web MD




Have you, like many other people, ever wondered why ADHD, a mental condition characterized by hyperactivity, should be prescribed stimulant medications as a treatment? If so, you're not alone. There are many who look at this common treatment and think it must be counterproductive, that a stimulant medication should make symptoms like hyperactivity and lack of focus worse. This understanding is often cited as one of the prime arguments for why ADHD is somehow a myth concocted by the pharmaceutical companies for the sake of earning a fortune pedaling unneeded drugs. . But the fact is, there's a very good reason why stimulants medications can be effective at treating ADHD, and that reason requires understanding just what, neurologically speaking, ADHD consists of.

In all of our brains, there is a portion that deals with matters of impulse suppression and control. It is this center that gives us the ability to focus on things that don't interest us, to be patient enough to do dull things like stand in long lines, to hold still without fidgeting, and to remember to take care of chores, tasks and organizational duties which we know are important. It makes us less likely to get so absorbed in engaging activities that we lose all track of time and keeps us from getting so easily caught up in strong emotions.

But for those of us with ADHD, there is, for some reason, a shortage of electrical activity in these portions of the brain. For us, it takes a great deal more willpower to do things we find tedious or unpleasant. Our emotions distract us hugely, and we have more trouble setting them aside. Daily chores and tasks slip our minds because our brains are reluctant to think about things we don't have a high emotional stake in. This same deficiency is what causes our brains to generate more creative ideas than we know what to do with, and to be constantly carried away with excitement about each new one (while forgetting all the old ones). This is why stimulant drugs help. With any form of stimulant, the brain's electrical impulses are kicked up in all areas, including these. This is why many people with undiagnosed ADHD will self-medicate with caffeine, nicotine, or even harder drugs like coc aine. While we do get the same boost in energy that anyone else does, the boost we also get to those underused portions of our brain give us the ability to manage it. In other words, we become very much like a normal person on a stimulant high, but that state of affairs is calmer and more focused than our usual state.

Source


Hope that explains it better than I did.

As for why my son takes blood pressure medicine, it's not because he has blood pressure problems. It just so happens that this particular medication also works the same way a stimulant would. It's a secondary use of the medicine.

Another example of a secondary use of medicine is Viagra. It was originally developed for use as a blood pressure med, then they discovered a unique side-effect. So now the drug is taken to produce that side effect, instead of treating blood pressure.





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