root issue: add/adhd

ADD/ADHD….overdiagnosed?

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…

why dont we care?? where has honesty gone?

Why don’t we care about other people?

Why do we refuse to talk to people about what really bothers us?Why do we try to use all kinds of surface issues instead of saying what we really want to say?What happened to honesty and genuine-ness in today’s world?Why is it so hard for us to get off of our pedestal and see that we really aren’t all that different?Each one of us has our own struggles, our own issues, our own pet peeves, and our own things we are good at.While those things may be different for each of us, we each still have them.While some people may struggle with alcohol others may struggle with loving themselves.Each of these issues, while unrelated, are related.One could be a root issue for the other.Either way, we each have issues.No one is perfect, no one goes without struggling, but I think very few people are strong enough to admit their issues to others and very few are willing to talk things out.

This is evident in our world today everywhere we turn.

In my previous note I discussed the overdiagnosis of childhood attention disorders.We don’t want to admit issues, we simply want a pill that will fix them.Another issue that is really sensitive is the current war in iraq.War in general is simply a cop out from fixing the real issues. Why talk something out when we can just fight them and kill them and ruin their entire society.I know I’m gonna get a lot of crap for saying that but hey if people never get pissed at you for what you think, you must not have strong thoughts.And granted, I think Iraq’s society was clearly in need of changes, but we did not exactly go about it in the right manner by any means.We also are completely using all our resources to fix problems which is clearly not going to get fixed the way we want it to.We cannot Americanize their nation and we don’t realize that.We also refuse to fix our own problems because that would require humility and admitting we have issues.

Education systems.the issue I’m most passionate about.If we could fund and fix our education systems we could fix SOO many other problems.I’ve never been one to simply say throw money at it, but money is what is needed here.Money, effort, time, and passionate people.If dropout rates weren’t at the high point, we wouldn’t have as many juvenile crimes.If teachers weren’t passionless, kids might want to go to school instead of cutting class to do who knows what.If kids were encouraged to nurture their passions, desires, and goals in life instead of simply being told ‘youre good at math and science, be an engineer’ or ‘your grades aren’t that great, maybe you should reconsider college’ we might have a more passionate society (another issue).Children should figure out what they enjoy and nurture it and education systems should allow that.We need to stop creating copycat children and encourage individual passion instead of group conformity.We need school counselors who care about the children beyond simply what test scores show.We need education administrators who care about more than just athletics.We need schools to encourage and assist each child to develop to his/her fullest potential whether that be in the classroom, on the field, on the stage, or wherever.

We also simply need to care.

Love people.

If we loved other people half as much as we seem to love ourselves, wow.

We need to reinstate community in society.We need accountability.Any sense of accountability has been lost in today’s society.Your kid acts out, medicate them.You have a bad few days, take some medication.You want a new whatever, charge it and pay it later.You don’t like someone, you don’t have to deal with them, take matters into your own hand.You don’t have to care, just look after yourself.terrible mindset.

In my recent TIME magazine, there’s an article about California and the new efforts they are making to ensure that the people of California are able to deal with any disasters that may come their way.The article discusses how after hurricane Katrina, it was clear that the government was unable to deal with national disasters, so California has decided to educate its people on how to take care of themselves in such an instant.How to take care of each other.After the hurricane, the majority of fixing things was not done by the ‘government of the people’ it was done by individual communities who saw a need and acted upon their desire to see the world better.People acted upon the fact that if they had been in that situation they would have wanted someone to care for them.

In a (I cringe to use this word) religious sense, I was listening to a podcast recently about how to be great.It discussed how we choose to be great.There are opportunities all around us each and every day where we can choose to be great. We can choose to help out someone in need or to pass them by.The discussion used the illustration of the Good Samaritan.All of the people who passed him by were in helping positions.Positions where you are employed to help people yet when they saw someone in obvious need, they passed by, they chose not to be great.In the Message version of the bible, the word ‘neighbor’ is used for how the Samaritan acted.Will we choose to act as neighbors or will we pass right by with our noses turned up?Studies have shown, the more we have (materially, financially, however) the less likely we are to give and help.I find this ironic because the more we have the more we are able to help and give.The more resources we have to be great, yet we choose to be good and make ourselves feel great.God did not call us to be good and help people when its convenient for us, He called us to be great when someone else needs it because we may be the one in need one day.Greatness is a choice we face every day.We can all be great AT something but will we choose to be great people?