This guest post is by Ronit Baras, author of Motivating Kids.
The ADHD Myth
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is very trendy. Over the last 30 years of my special education work, the percentage of kids and people with ADHD goes up. Is there an explanation for this?
In the special education profession there is still split on the definition of ADHD. Some say it is a brain malfunction, some say it another way of thinking and children’s need to move beyond the “normal” range. I think that no matter which approach you take, our society is sick with the labelling disease! Otherwise I cannot explain the inflation.
Here are some of the symptoms of inattention used to classify ADHD children (they need more than 6 to qualify):
- Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
- Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
- Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behaviour or failure to understand instructions).
- Often has trouble organizing activities.
- Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
- Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
- Is often easily distracted.
- Is often forgetful in daily activities.
Well, look at that list and realise why we have an inflation of children with ADHD. I had ADHD, my children had ADHD. In fact, most children I worked with, who did amazing things in their life, had ADHD.
According to US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD is:
ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood and can persist through adolescence and into adulthood. Currently the causes are unknown.
A person with ADHD has a chronic level of inattention, impulsive hyperactivity, or both such that daily functioning is compromised. The symptoms of the disorder must be present at levels that are higher than expected for a person’s developmental stage and must interfere with the person’s ability to function in different settings (e.g., in school and at home). A person with ADHD may struggle in important areas of life, such as peer and family relationships, and school or work performance.
When I worked with these kids’ motivation, I changed their behaviour and performance dramatically within a short time. So much so that none of their “symptoms” remained.
Now you tell me, if ADHD is “a chronic level of inattention” and “a neurobehavioral disorder”, how can it be changed in three months? This is because “Low Motivation” is a different label from “Attention Deficit Disorder”. Responsibility is needed here, not labels!
To get kids to follow instructions, we must provide them with internal motivation. Not bribing or threatening or giving lectures but creating an internal motivation to eliminate emotional block. School is all about external motivation –grades and making parents and teachers happy. Fun, on the other hand is a one of the best incentives.
The Inflation of ADHD
There are many reasons for the inflation of ADHD. It is better for parents to consider them before going towards the medication path.
- The definition of ADHD is so broad that almost every person in the world has it.
- ADHD is genetic. All people carry the gene and it is recessive (it does not manifest itself) until someone finds it too hard to control you.
- ADHD is contagious. It is transmitted from the people around you through their attitude.
- Is easier to control children if you give them a label and put them in a box.
- It is easier to get funding from governments and organizations if you present a growing need.
- ADHD is a business. There is a lot of money for the pharmaceutical companies, so they have a great interest in promoting it.
- Parents prefer a diagnosis because it helps them with guilt feelings.
- Being diagnosed with ADHD can be used as a great excuse to misbehave, be irresponsible and unsuccessful.
Here is the simple rule, If it is selective, it is not ADHD. If they can pay attention to their Lego and are very distracted when doing homework, if they forget to bring their pencil case but never forget where they put their IPod, it is not ADHD
Distraction is connected more to physical emotional state than to having ADHD. Insufficient sleep, unhealthy eating and problems at home or school have major effects on any person’s ability to focus, especially children.
One of my greatest teachers taught me the greatest attitude to education: “If a kid cannot understand something, it is only because we have not found a good enough way of explaining it yet!”
Find a way!
Ronit Baras is an educator, author, life coach, motivational speaker and parenting expert specialising in Emotional Intelligence. She worked around the world in the last 30 years with teachers, parents and children. Her book Motivating Kids is an inspiration for parents and teachers including researched based, effective proven tools to help children excel in their academic, social and emotional life.
You can contact Ronit at www.ronitbaras.com