Thursday, December 09, 2010
ADD and ADHD
Like most parents of today we had a child that was unable to sit still in school: constantly moving, talking and disrupting everyone in the classroom. Now this was probably about 1980 and things like ADHD and ADD were still not well known. In those days ADHD/ADD was not like it is today or in the intervening years. In fact, we had a second child in school many years later that also suffered from the same problems.
In my day it was my problem to address these issues with my children.
There was no internet to search for clues, nothing much to do but take the crap from the school about how your child was a "problem". In the 1980's there were only books to read - at the library or bookstore - to help you sort things out.
Today things are far different.
ADHD/ADD and its drug-based treatments are now a top lifestyle choices of parents and teachers - primarily designed to make the teachers and parents lives flow smoothly and efficiently on a day-to-day basis.
What has changed over the last thirty or so years?
When I was a child in school in the 1960's things were far different than today. I went to a small Catholic school administered and taught by nuns. The nuns lived in large house behind the playground and teaching children was basically all they did. I definitely recall other children with what would today be called ADHD and ADD: they constantly fidgeted, talked and otherwise disrupted the classroom.
However, unlike today, the nuns applied strict discipline, sometimes physical, sometimes not, but always effective.
The first step in addressing ADHD/ADD is to ensure that there is adequate discipline involved with raising the child. Its quite possible that lack of discipline can easily be confused with ADHD/ADD. As a parent its actually fairly easy to tell if a child has the ability to properly concentrate. Does the child every exhibit proper learning behavior, i.e., do they ever concentrate, do they ever sit still, do they ever pay attention? (Of course the parent must be able to perform these tasks in a substantial way - otherwise how will they know if their child has a problem.)
If the answer is "yes they do", e.g., while playing a game, while watching TV, while spending time doing something they like to do, then my opinion is that the child is not ill and instead merely reacting to a lack of discipline in their life when asked to do something they don't like to do. Let's not forget these are children and they are going to behave that way given no supervision. Unless they learn that certain behaviors are unacceptable at certain times they will never be properly behaved.
Adequate discipline - now exactly what is that? When I was a child adequate discipline involved behaving in a situationally appropriate manner as required by adults. Adults during my childhood understood what it meant to be a child and knew the difference between when adequate discipline should be enforced and when not. Typically there was an understanding that, as a child, you were expected to a large degree to "play by yourself" and to "entertain yourself". Lack of proper behavior involved consequences that, though they varied from family to family, were never pleasant.
Today children have been taught that unpleasant consequences generally mean they are being abused or in some other way harmed. Today adults seem to believe that their personal comfort and convenience are a priority over the needs of their children. Today schools and child care facilities have become replacements for parental responsibility. Today children are taught that its is the job of the adults in their lives to entertain them.
So personally I find it very hard to tell if its the attention span of the child that has dwindled to unacceptable levels or if the adults are merely exhibiting child-like expectations that their children will somehow exhibit more responsibility than them with respect to their proper behavior.
If proper and adequate separation and definition of adult and child behavior has been arranged its then possible to examine the next aspect of ADD/ADHD: diet.
Most parents today consider things like chicken nuggets, french fries, candy, and sugary foods, cereals, and drinks as proper foods. Unfortunately these things have a variety of highly negative effects on the human body and the human body.
First and foremost today's adults with children must understand that the human body was not designed to consume these foods. The insanely high levels of salt, sugar (if you are lucky), high fructose corn syrup, and toxic oils can trigger all sorts of negative physical reactions. This is caused by two things I have written about previously: high blood glucose and toxic oils that corrupt the bodies ability to take up that glucose from the blood stream.
If a child is loaded with these chemicals day after day and subsequently expected to control his or her behavior the outcome is not very likely to be successful. The symptoms of eating these foods long term include the exact symptoms of ADHD and ADD.
Finally there is nutrition, i.e., what nutritional elements the diet brings to the body. Most people today in the US are deficient in Iodine and other vitamins. Lifestyles that are too busy to focus on proper diet also fail to provide children with proper nutrition. Nutritional deficiencies can cause all kinds of long term problems. Candy vitamins and other nutritional aids do nothing to make sure the vitamins are properly absorbed by the child's body.
So why is ADHD/ADD so common today?
1) There is no proper expectation of discipline by adults of children. Children today are tools of the adult lifestyle: no recess, 32 hours of TV per week, the expectation that non-parental caregivers are adequate for the child's needs (as covered in prior posts such as this one).
2) The children are literally being poisoned by their diets: rapid obesity, high sugar and corn syrup-based foods, and toxic oils; not to mention water laden with hormones and other problematic chemicals.
3) The children are nutritionally deficient. The nutrients and elements in their diets they need to learn, to exhibit proper discipline, to grow and develop are missing.
4) Today's parents, doctors and teach have themselves more than likely been raised with these very problems leaving them ill-equipped to deal with their own lives let alone the lives of their children.
5) Adults raised to believe that medications, drugs and pills are the best lifestyle choices for themselves are likely to believe this is also true for their children.
6) Today's adults are taught to listen to other adults (teachers, care givers, medical professionals) and not children - after all, what do children know? Yet the role of parents for the last two hundred thousand years or so has been nothing but parents listening and reacting to their children in order to guide them to adulthood in an all-to-dangerous world.
In assessing these points you will quickly see that the problem with ADHD and ADD is one that can clearly be placed on the shoulders of society and parents. Children are not in a position to learn discipline on their own, to select a properly nutritious diet on their own, to supersede their parents level of self control and responsibility, nor to distinguish between true medical treatment and relying on pills and drugs as crutches.
Nothing here that I am saying is new, or, for me, even interesting any more.
There are hundreds if not thousands of web sites, books and health professionals that understand the true causes of ADD and ADHD and what can be done about it.
Finally I offer this video. (I think the problem is not just that of the "educational system" as described in the video but in fact must be applied to the full society instead, i.e., is what our society is doing to our children the right thing.)
Whether you agree with it or not this video illustrates that there are many different ways to perceive the problem of ADHD/ADD in society today and many ideas of what might be done about it...
Posted by John Gault at 4:04 PM