Today in psych we talked about these two “disorders” and their relation to school and just to children’s basic lives. In elementary schools today, 1 in every 9 boys is diagnosed with one of these disorders and is being medicated for it. This is WAY too many children. The question is asked “are there really this many children with ADD/ADHD or are we simply overdiagnosing America starting at the youngest age possible?” While I do believe that attention disorders exist, I do not feel that this many children suffer from them. I feel that these disorders are overdiagnosed as a cop out. It is much easier to diagnose a kid and give them some medicine that will make them sit still than to actually figure out what is wrong. Whether their environment needs improvements, diet changes need to be made, or there are problems within the home environment, its much easier to just medicate a kid than to fix the root issue. While I feel that refusing to look at and discuss root issues stems far into adulthood, I’ll focus on that in a later note.
Today’s children are being screwed by the system, by medication, and by today’s culture and no one is doing a damn thing about it but everyone knows its happening. At a young age, these children are diagnosed and medicated. This poses several problems. First, these children are just at the age when children begin to label each other, therefore, these children could feel like an outcast or ‘different’ or just simply have their self esteem lowered. Also, these children could see their diagnosis as an excuse for certain behaviors. Also, the medication has not been properly tested in longitudinal studies to see what long term effects mentally, physically, and emotionally the medication will have on them.
Outside of the child’s mindset, adults see this diagnosis as an excuse, and as a cop out. Too many parents will attribute every behavior problem to ADD/ADHD and refuse to spend time with their children or talk to their children and discover the root issues. (I think I’ll write a book entitled Root Issues about the fact that America refuses to acknowledge them). A child diagnosed with these disorders will simply be medicated and the parent will feel that all of the problems are solved.
Teachers. Teachers are already in a tough enough position as I am constantly learning. First of all they are the most underpaid position in America. They build the foundations for many children’s futures and are paid barely enough to allow them to live above poverty. They put in countless hours outside of school grading papers, developing lesson plans, working on behavior issues, and sometimes even playing surrogate parents for parents who refuse to psychologically nurture their children. Teachers are forced to find magical ways to cater to each child’s differing zone of learning (area at which they are mentally capable of comprehending knowledge) and each childs different developmental stage. In the midst of all of this, teachers have to deal with behavior problems from children. Whether the child simply acts out, is socially aloof, does poorly in class for whatever reason, shows clear signs of abuse, or just causes problems amongst the class, the teacher has to deal with them, all at the same time. Once children are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, they may be medicated which sedates them to a zombie like state where they can pay attention but are clearly not themselves anymore. Although this gives the teacher a break from dealing with the crazy child, this is not the answer.
Too often though, this is the decision that is made. Education systems are underfunded, parents are overworked, and politicians don’t care. If we simply fund the education systems more and fix the environments that neglect certain children while catering to others we may be able to help these children. If the culture we live in encouraged parents to spend more time with their children and actually know them, we would have an easier time. If the economy was not in such a sorry state thanks to our lovely president, parents would not be forced to work their asses off to meet the minimum level of living. If society did not have such a gap between the upper class and the rest of us, things would be better. But all of these things require effort, time, thought, and looking beyond our own noses, something too many Americans cannot do. Its sad. Fund the education systems, get off your high horses, and focus on todays children. No Child Left Behind was the sorriest excuse for a fix which actually screwed up the education systems more than anything. Worst idea in the history of American education.
While this was meant to be directly about ADD/ADHD, I hope I’ve exposed a deeper issue, the root issue, is the need for a quick fix rather than a real fix.
Stay tuned for how this root issue has screwed up other aspects of our society…